Made from Bowling Balls
- If you live in an area with freezing temperatures, bring your bowling balls inside for the winter. A dry storage shed is fine, otherwise they could crack during the freeze and thaw cycles.
- You can find bowling balls at garage sales, thrift stores and bowling alleys. Many times you can get them for free at bowling alleys or on Freecycle, all you have to do is ask.
- The longer a project cures inside a controlled environment, whether it be painted or mosaicked, the better it will hold up outside.
- Always start with a clean and prepped bowling ball. Use rubbing alcohol or vinegar to get the wax finish off the ball. Sand lightly to rough up the surface, then rinse and dry the ball.
- Sit your ball on a coffee can or some other object to make it easier to work on.
- You may want to fill the holes with concrete or wood putty filler. I will often fill the hole with aluminum foil, then just fill in the end with putty or thin set mortar. Leave one hole uncovered if you plan on using re-bar/re-rod to display your ball.
- There are a variety of adhesives that can be used, based on what type of material you will be applying to the ball. I find that thin set mortar, construction adhesive, clear silicone or premixed concrete patch work for most things. Mac Glue, Plumber's Goop and Silicone work well for glass. Make sure you have proper ventilation when working with glues, following the manufacturer's instructions.
- Always use sanded grout as it holds up better outdoors. Adding Admix to the grout instead of water will strengthen grout and help to prevent mold and mildew. Mix the grout so that it is the consistency of a stiff brownie batter. Always wear a dust mask when mixing grout to avoid breathing in the grout dust. It's easier to apply the grout with your hands on a round surface. Wearing two pair of latex or nitrile gloves when applying the grout will protect your hands from chemicals and from getting cut by any sharp edges. Apply the grout so that it gets in between all the pieces. This adds strength to the mosaic.
- Allow the grout to set up for 10 minutes, then wipe off excess grout using a dry cloth or sponge. Allow grout to set up for another 10 minutes, then wipe the ball down with a damp sponge, buffing the tiles as you go along to remove any grout film.
- Have a bucket of water handy and use the water to keep your sponge clean as much as possible. Never put this water down your drains, as any grout residue can set up in your pipes and cause a blockage. Pour any water outside and then wipe out any grout residue that remains and dispose of it in the trash.
- Sealing the grout is not an absolute necessity, but I find the grout resists stains better that way and lasts longer outdoors. Sealer can be applied after grout has set up for at least 24 hours. Follow manufacturer's instructions, as they may be slightly different depending on the brand you use.
- Most of the supplies you will need can be found in the tile section of your home improvement store, including the mortar, grout, Admix, and sealer. It's also less expensive then mosaic supplies found at craft stores.