Sunday, July 1, 2018

I make concrete balls when I'm not #amwriting #suspense novels. Want to join me?

Some of you asked how I made the concrete balls for my yard art. Here you go!  

What motivated me to become a ball-maker?  Cost was primary.  I would have to pay from $80 to more than $600 to buy cement globes, even if shipping were free.  The bigger they are, the more expensive.  The biggest ball I made, using a basketball as a mold, was fourteen inches in diameter.  I also made six, eight, and ten inch spheres.

I started by buying cheap glass globes for lighting.  A hardware store should have six, eight and maybe ten inch diameter glass ones for you.  DO NOT USE ACRYLIC.  The glass breaks easily after the concrete is set; acrylic might be hard to break without damaging the concrete ball.  You’ll pay up to $10 for the ten inch glass globe.

For a larger 14 inch mold, I used a cheap basketball I bought from Walmart for $5.00. You need heavy rubber that ‘stands’ on it’s own after you’ve cut out a hole and let the air out (hint: cut out the air nodule…make a hole about the size of the neck of a lighting globe)

(Caution: wear a mask, protective glasses and gloves when you work with cement.) 

Buy white mortar from your local hardware store along with gray liquid coloring.  You decide if you want all the globes to be the same color, or a variety of white/shades of gray.  Mix the mortar with water (and dye) to give it the smooth consistency of a  milkshake. Small batches are easier to manage; I used a special stirrer on the end of a drill to mix mine more easily. Some may want to mix in sand or tiny rocks for texture. 

SPRAY THE INSIDE OF THE LIGHTING GLOBES WITH PAM OR SILICON SPRAY.  No need to put lubricant inside of the rubber ball.

Set the mold in sand or dirt to distribute weight (I put some in planters as you can see), and especially for the rubber basketball, to keep the ball round in form. Pour mortar into the globe (or basketball).  I bought a plastic, wide-mouth funnel to make this easier.

Let cure for at least 48 hours.  Place whole mold in a plastic bag and with protective glasses on, begin banging on the glass to break it off. You’ll have some bits to work on at the end of the process. Be sure to get all glass pieces off so you don’t cut yourself.

You can smooth, even shine the surface, by using fine sandpaper, but I like the natural, rough look.

The picture below shows my final products.  In my next blog entry, I’ll show you where I’ve placed my globes in my new landscape.

Here are some DIY takes from Google:

My hero in CÉZANNE’S GHOST is a budding sketch artist. In fact, the ghost of post-impressionist PAUL CÉZANNE, lurks throughout this mystery novel.  

We’re all artists in our own way…and now I can say I ‘sculpt’ concrete balls!

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Leah St. James said...

Wow. Now that's something I've never considered! We don't see a lot of concrete globes around here! Very cool though. I'll bet you can release a lot of frustration whacking at the glass at the end! Thanks for sharing, Rolynn. Looking forward to seeing where you've "planted" them!

Alicia Dean said...

I'm impressed! Another aspect of your creativity at work. They're fantastic!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Thanks, Leah. The whole process is kind of fun...playing in the mud, not having to be careful about making the molding process, and breaking glass at the end. You are right...that's the most fun! You'll see pics in about two weeks I'm hoping.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Alicia, thank you. When I saw the concrete spheres in a landscaping setting I was hooked. Such a pleasing, Zen look!

I've got to go back into my directions to tell you: SPRAY THE INSIDE OF THE LIGHTING GLOBES WITH PAM OR SILICON SPRAY. Not need to put lubricant inside of the rubber ball.

Jannine Gallant said...

Very cool idea. But what about color? Do they have colored dye to create bright balls for your landscaping?

Alison Henderson said...

I've seen concrete globes, but I never considered making them myself. What an impressive project! I have a glazed ceramic ball, a glass gazing ball on a copper pole, my multi-colored spinner, and a couple of bird baths, but I can't claim to have made any of them myself. Kudos to you!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Now that’s something i’ve never considered doing either, but it does sound like fun. I’m another one who wonders about making them in colors. I agree, they are very Zen like. My mosaic gazing ball is one of the non living additions to my garden area. And I had nothing whatsoever to do with making it. ;-)

Rolynn Anderson said...

Jannine, I saw two colors available for concrete/mortar...gray and brown. Other colors may be available. I do have blown glass brown balls for the front yard, but I was looking for something in the gray shades for the back yard. I also have two Japanese balls used as floats for fishing...that are about 100 years old. I'm beginning to think I have a fixation on balls? :-)

Rolynn Anderson said...

Alison, I have the bug. Now I want to make REALLY BIG ones. Another method allows you to cover a ball with concrete. That sounds tricky to me. Will consider.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Cool, Margo. Mosaic stuff is all the rage. Gaze away, my friend. Whatever brings us a deep breath and an appreciative look...I'm for it!

Andrea Downing said...

Goodness Rolynn, what talent--and how creative. I might have to think about these for my new house. Thanks!

RE Mullins said...

Love crafts. Thanks for sharing

Diane Burton said...

How creative, Rolynn. Wow. I never thought about making concrete balls. Can't wait to see them in your garden.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Andi, thanks for the compliment. If you decide to make them, please let me know and I'll cheerlead and advise from the sidelines. :-)

Rolynn Anderson said...

R.E. and Diane...thanks. So much more tangible...uh, concrete...than writing a book. I need that outlet!