CRAFT Summer Camp
By Jennifer Perkins
Bowling, garden gnomes, recycling – what’s not to love about this project? I have seen various incarnations of this lawn bowling game, but since it is summer, I thought it best to go with a gnome theme. Start slugging your favorite soda and mow your bowling lane, because the summer fun is about to begin!



10 empty 2-liter bottles

White spray paint
, formulated for plastic
Craft paint in assorted colors
Downloadable gnome template
, optional

Paint brushes





Straight razor

Large ball

Clear top coat spray

Download PDF Download the Template PDF
Right click to save the PDF to your desktop. Directions on downloading PDFs.


Step 1: Remove the labels from the empty bottles. Some of the labels came off easily, others needed a bit of help. I used a razor and running water to remove the glue and last bits of label.

Step 2: Once your labels are removed, rinse your bottles well and set aside to dry completely.

Step 3: Using a funnel, pour a bit of gravel into each bottle. The key is to add enough so they won’t blow over in the wind, but not so much that they’re too heavy to be knocked over by the ball. I just eyeballed the amount of gravel I used, but if you were so inclined, you could measure your gravel for even distribution among the ten bottle pins.

Step 4: Take your gravel-filled bottles outside and set them on a blanket, tarp, or newspaper.

Step 5: Paint your bottles white with spray paint designed for plastics. This may take a couple of coats. Be sure to allow your paint to dry between coats.

Step 6: Once the white paint has dried, use a pencil to draw your gnome designs on the bottles. (You can download my design template above, or come up with your own!)
If you’re using my template, print it out and place a sheet of carbon paper on the bottle. Position the pattern over the carbon paper. Using a sharp pencil, trace the pattern onto the bottle. Do this for all ten bottles. The backside of the bottle will be very plain with just the gnome’s pants and top. If you are feeling arty, feel free to draw in more details.

Step 7:The fun part is painting your gnomes. Thank goodness for my mother and her artistic abilities. She was able to draw several different gnomes for me, including a couple of cute lady gnomes. Use your favorite craft paint to fill in your line drawing.

Step 8: No gnome lawn bowling set is complete without at least a couple of polka-dotted toadstool mushrooms. To get the perfect dots for your gnomes’ eyes and shrooms, dip the end of your paint brush into paint and apply. A pencil eraser also works great.

Step 9: Once the paint has dried, put the lids back on the bottles. I recommend gluing them into place.

You might want to add a top coat of some sort, so your fancy paint job won’t crack and flake. I applied two coats of polyurethane sealer, allowing it to dry between coats.
Step 10: Now that you have your ten pins painted and ready for action, you need your bowling ball. Choose a ball comparable to the size of a bowling ball, but much lighter in weight.

Step 11: Line up your pins and get your ball. It was a little tricky for a 2 1/2 year-old to understand the concept of bowling – she wanted to throw the ball rather than roll it.

Step 12:The ball should roll and hit your bottles just like you were bowling. If you are playing with young children, you might set the pins up in an indoor hallway, so they have “bumpers” to help guide the ball to the pins. If you’re playing outdoors, you can set up some bumpers with bricks or flower bed edging.
Step 13: Now cross your fingers and hope for a strike! Nothing says you have to stick to gnomes, of course. I got the idea from a ghost bowling set I made for HGTV. You could paint bunnies for Easter bowling, Santas for Christmas, or top 10 favorite presidents for an educational version.  

About the Author:
Author Jenniferperkins
Jennifer Perkins is the lady behind The Naughty Secretary Club blog and Etsy store. When she is not crafting, you can find her at various haunts around Austin, TX with her hubby and 2 kidlets.

41 thoughts on “How-To: Gnome Lawn Bowling Game

  1. This is a great idea. I am addicted to chalkboard paint so im going to use that for mine so one set could be resuse. Thanks my families kids should love this

  2. How clever! I’m going to use copies of pictures of different family members (taped on bottles painted white). We love each other, but still would be fun to knock over the picture version.

  3. There is a much easier and safer way to get labels off of soda bottles. Heat some water until it is very hot but not boiling and pour it into the bottle. Have a couple spare bottles on hand because it might take a couple tries (if it’s too hot the bottle melts).
    When it’s the right temperature, the labels and glue peel right off with no residue left over, and it stays hot enough to do that for 3-4 bottles in a row usually.

  4. You’ve made some really good points there. I checked on the net for more info about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this web site.

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