Monday, December 04, 2006

How to make Garden Balls, a tutorial

Materials needed-a ball, flat marbles, GE Silicone II exterior version, grout or mortar mix with sand, water, plastic bag, rubber gloves, a paper plate or old lid, a spreader; such as a popcicle stick

Step one- Gather materials. I am using a tennis ball attached to a pole, which used to hold flags, until it broke (Reduce, reuse, recycle). Using the larger size of flat marbles, it will take approximately 40 to cover an entire tennis ball. I am using two shades of blue this time, and I figured out a pattern that I want to use.

Step two-Squirt some silicone onto the old lid. Make sure you use the right kind.

Step three- Using the popcicle stick, spread a liberal amount of silicone on a section of the ball.

Step four-Begin placing the flat marbles onto the ball in the silicone. Push firmly, but do not push so hard as to squish all of the silicone out from under the marbles.

Step five-Add another section of silicone and another round of marbles.

Step six-Continue adding silicone and marbles all the way to the bottom of the ball. You may have to carefully hold the ball in the palm of your hand to place the marbles on the bottom half of the ball. Once completed, carefully set it down and let it dry over night.

Step seven-Put your mortar/sand mix into a bowl, about 2 cups full.

Step eight-Add some water and stir it up using another popcicle stick.

Mix should be very thick. If it is runny, sprinkle some mix in it and stir. Continue to add mix or water until a paste like consistency.

Step nine-With gloves on, scoop up some of the mix and start applying to the ball. You will want to push it down firmily inbetween the marbles. It is okay if it gets on the marbles.

Step ten-Once completed mortared, wrap in plastic and let sit for a couple of hours to semi-set. Do not worry at this time if there is mortar on the marbles.
Step eleven-Unwrap ball from the plastic. Run it under slow moving water. If a hard running water is used, it could wash the mortar out from between the marbles. Using a rag, carefully wipe the ball, getting the excess mortar off of the marbles.

Rewrap the ball in the plastic and let sit for another few hours. Once again, remove it from the plastic and gently wet and wipe. By now, you should have the mortar / grout cleaned off enough to make the ball look nice. Rewrap in plastic.

The garden ball is done now, except for curing. Curing will take a week or so. For the first 5 days, keep the ball wrapped in plastic, removing it once per day and gently wetting, either using the faucet or a spray bottle. This prevents it from drying too quickly and causing it to crack.
After five days, remove it from the plastic and continue to wet it down, several times a day. You will want to do this for at least 3 more days. Then you can let it start to dry more, with maybe only wetting it once a day or so. After another week it will be cured enough to place outside.

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