Thumbtack Vase Fillers

A while back I started collecting glass containers.  Tall ones.  Short ones.  Fat ones.  Curvy ones.  Straight ones.  I decided they were so versatile I could fill them up with various things depending on my mood/what holiday it was/whatever.

The problem is, aside from filling them with round Christmas ornaments during the holidays, they’ve been sitting empty!  I soon realized that a lot of those things people normally fill them with are somewhat expensive.  Plus, I’m the WORST at accessorizing.  I’m the same way with outfits…I can put on a shirt and a pair of pants but necklaces?  What?  I wear the same pair of earrings almost every day (silver hoops).

But I’m determined to be more of a “it’s all in the details” kind of a girl and this is where I’m starting.  My glass vases.

Here are some cute thumbtack vase filler balls I made this week.  I’m quite pleased with them.  Pleased as punch actually.

Here’s the what’s what on making them:

Get inexpensive thumbtacks from your junk drawer or nearby office supply store.  Each ball took about 100-150 tacks depending on its size.

I started by creating a line of tacks around the center and then working my way up & down overlapping the tacks a best I could.

I also did a couple where I started at one end and worked my way down.  Both ways turned out fab.

Worried about the color?  Don’t be. After the ball was completely covered in tacks, I took it out and spray painted it!  It was awesome.  Totally customized to what colors I wanted and very easy to do.  I did prime it first as well… I’m not sure if it was necessary but I felt better doing it.  I also finished them with a nice coat of clear enamel spray paint for a shiny finish.  That is entirely up to you, of course.

Now, if you do happen to get some metallic thumbtacks and want the silver or gold look then, by all means, do not paint!

Gorgeous, right?  I loved them unpainted, but I had a colorful vision in mind so I had to proceed with the spray painting.

I think they’re great all together in one big vase.    But I also like them mixed in with other decorative balls (which I will show you how I did next time).

Or maybe you want them in a bowl or basket?

I think they added some funkiness to my living room space which was lacking in the accessories department.

The only problem I’ve had so far is my kids won’t stop touching them!  There’s something about that shiny smooth, yet bumpy texture they can’t leave alone.  Plus they love that they are made out of thumbtacks.  I guess we’ll see how durable they are!

Hey, check out THESE thumb tack decorative balls using silver thumb tacks and duct tape!

Here are the spraypaint colors I used:

Summer Squash

Valspar: Everglade Glen
Krylon: Blue Ocean Breeze

*************EDIT on July 25, 2011************

I’ve had some people email me/leave a comment who have had some trouble creating these.  Unfortunately their comments are not attached to their email so I can’t write them back!!  So, I figured I’d address the issues here…

You:  My thumbtacks are not staying in!

Me:  I had no issues with the thumbtacks until I got to the very end.  The last thumbtack always seemed to be loose since I was unable to push that one in as far as the other ones (it sat up on top of other thumbtacks all the way around).  On the couple that happend, I simply dipped the point of the thumbtack into white glue and then put it in.  Once it dried it was sturdy.    They were also sured up quite a bit after a couple of coats of spray paint.

I have also been thinking that the styrofoam on these balls must vary quite a bit from brand to brand.  Maybe mine were quite a bit denser than yours?    Perhaps as a remedy you could do a quick coat of Mod Podge over  your ball and allow it to dry first?  That might make a sturdier surface for you to push in your pins.  

You: My styrofoam is disintegrating when I spray paint it!

Me:  Again, maybe it is the brand of the styrofoam ball?  I had very little styrofoam even showing when I got to that point but what was showing had no problem with this.  I’m guessing a quick coat of Mod Podge would help this as well…. yes, Mod Podge is the miracle crafting drug!  :)

Other unsolicited tip from me:  I didn’t mention above how I spray painted these bad-boys.  I actually took inexpensive bamboo skewers from the grocery store and stuck them into one of the small places the styrofoam was showing.  I then held on to that as I spray painted them, leaving them stuck upright in a bucket (sticking out the top) as they dried between coats.  If you picked one up now and looked closely you can still see the small hole it made.  But really, who is going to do that?  No one, that’s who.  

Please let me know if you have any other issues or if the Mod Podge helps!  The world needs more thumbtack balls so let’s figure out all the problems, k?  :)

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  1. says

    I love this easy decor piece! I am going to try these this weekend for our new office area in our home. Thanks for posting!

  2. says

    I’m visiting from Tatertots and Jello!

    This idea is genius! And I really was thinking “Where did she find such pretty colored thumbtacks?” right as you said not to worry about the color. They are so cool and I’m really looking forward to seeing how you made the other balls also!

  3. says

    I’m typically not into the whole decorative ball thing, but these came out so cute, and I’m sure they were cheap as all get out to make. Plus they look like they’re covered in wee little fish scales. 😀 Love ’em!

  4. says

    TFS! I was just looking at some decorative balls last night at the store and thought my kids would do damage with them, but these are fabulous! I think you are on to something. I have to try this.

  5. says

    These are stunning. Love the colors and fabric you chose to go with them. I’ve seen one other ball like this but it wasn’t spray painted. I LOVE yours! I will feature this Sunday at Grab my “featured” button.

  6. says

    I L.O.V.E. this idea!! I am so tired of seeing tacky decorating ideas – and so I think it is hilarious that something made out of tacks could turn out to be awesome! I loved the way the spray painting made the colors exactly coordinated your decor AND how the paint probably keeps the tacks all stuck there (which matters when there are little people around).


  7. says

    I love these! And the color is perfect for my house. I’ll be by around 5 to pick them up….mmmkay? =) So glad I found your blog. Can’t wait to see what else you are making.

  8. says

    How fun! Love it! You know what else is pretty and it doesn’t have to be for Christmas is get the small stick pins, small styrofoam balls, put a seed bead then a sequin and cover the whole thing. I did these one Christmas as gifts, everyone loved them!

  9. says

    Genius! You picked the perfect colors, they go so well together. I love this and am sharing on my blog’s facebook and twitter page. Thanks for the idea!

  10. says

    i love this idea. I have been wanting to do something like this for awhile, but wasn’t sure what to do! I will be adding this to my list of things!!

  11. says

    Aw, I love these! They remind me of little ornaments my grandma used to make (except I don’t think she used thumbtacks XD) I might have to try this out sometime, it’s a very creative storage idea and it gives me the fuzzies! Thanks for sharing :)

  12. says

    These are gorgeous! What fun pops of color–and the texture is so perfect too! Thank you for this tutorial. I shared it on my Friday Favorites post (posted today/Tuesday due to Blogger issues last week). Have a great day!

  13. Daily Craft says

    Great project! I just wanted to let you know that we featured this project on our Facebook page with almost 12,000 fans. We’d love it if you’d use our Featured Blogger button, available at: Our audience loved the project and we look forward to sharing more from you. Please let us know if you have any questions or projects you’d love us to feature! Thanks!

  14. Catha says

    Hi there. I love these! I tried to make them last night, but my thumb tacks seem to be much smaller than the ones you used. However, I cannot seem to find bigger ones. Where did you get yours?

    Thanks for sharing your creativity. I love to duplicate other people’s genius.

  15. says

    Thanks for posting this! However, I tried making these tonight and when I put the spray paint on, the styrofoam that was visible seemed to fall apart and the tacks started sliding out. Any advice?

  16. says

    The same thing happened to me! The styrofoam seemed to shrink and disintegrate! My tacks fell out too :( And I bought Krylon indoor/outdoor Sun Yellow paint and it didn’t seem to cover the best. Not sure how many coats I would need (but I didn’t prime either — maybe that’s key). Advice would be helpful!

  17. says

    Awesome project – I have been recreating this weekend and instead of regular styrofoam balls I found “smooth foam” Crafter’s Foam balls at Michaels (cheaper than the styrofoam ones!) and these have worked out great.

  18. Marissa says

    I attempted to make these and got all of the tacks on just fine, but when I went to spray paint them, all of the tacks fell out and the foam sphere disintegrated! Needless to say, frustrated, especially after all the tacking. Did anyone else have this problem? If so, what did you do? I really don’t want to waste the time and the tack covered spheres! Help!

  19. Anonymous says

    You might try covering the balls in Mod Podge( a cheaper version is half white glue and half water mixed together, works same as Mod Podge) and let dry.

  20. Vicki Wilson says

    Those thumbtack balls are the coolest. I love the texture and the colors you used. We had a 2000 mile trip for spring break, so this was a perfect project. I also bought the “smooth foam balls at Michaels and had no promblems. The dollar store I bought my thumbtacks at had 300 in a pkg. I ran out of thumbtacks and after going into, I don’t know how many $ stores looking for the 300 pkg., my husband went to staple, yikes to expensive, but kind of done with looking he gladly paid. The tacks their were bigger, I liked working with the smaller ones. Off to buy spray paint.

  21. Tammy B says

    I’ve made a few of these and the smooth foam balls work best. They are denser and hold the thumbtacks better.

  22. Holly says

    I found a picture of these on Pinterest. They look so cool–I’m really looking forward to trying them out. Thanks for the tutorial!

  23. says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. I have been looking for colorful spheres to go in my red bread basket for months and haven’t been able to find anything… until now. This is so awesome. I am your newest follower too! 😉


  24. says

    Love this! Tip for disentigrating styrofoam ball after spray paint: I was warned by a Michael’s employee so I used saran wrap to cover the ball first. Didn’t know about the mod podge suggestion but this worked for me!

  25. Anonymous says

    Great idea for Christmas ornaments!! I did some ornaments years ago with styrofoam balls, sequins, and straight pins (you pin the sequin in the ball – looks kind of like a disco ball)

  26. says

    Wow! This is super cool! I have been looking into decorative vases and how to make mine more fun and this is sure a great way! can you tell me where to find more options like this? I think it is super helpful for my creative juices!

  27. says

    Hi, so I just found your idea recently and have decided to try it out for myself, because I needed something to fill an empty vase. I didn’t realize it took SO many thumb tacks to cover the balls (I bought the 2″ balls, 24 of them).

    I bought them in 100-packs (3 of them) from Hobby Lobby (arts & crafts specialty store) for $1.99 each and I was only able to complete 3 balls, plus half of a 1.5″ ball. Any ideas as to where I can get thumb tacks in bulk, for a decent price?


  1. […] Thumb Tack Decorative Balls  – these are the coolest, but I’m not sure if I’d have the thumb power or patience to complete one, let alone several.  This reminds me of my grand ideas to make several gum drop trees……….I ended up making ONE before I threw in the towel.  But I love how these look. She also made holiday trees with gold thumb tacks.  […]

  2. […] Thumb Tack Decorative Balls  – these are the coolest, but I’m not sure if I’d have the thumb power or patience to complete one, let alone several.  This reminds me of my grand ideas to make several gum drop trees……….I ended up making ONE before I threw in the towel.  But I love how these look. She also made holiday trees with gold thumb tacks.  […]

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