As with all of my projects, they begin in my head long before anything is gathered or glued. This one began, probably just after I finished #9, the Junk Ball. Being the junkie who wants to simplify and declutter our lives, making use of junk to create something beautiful while clearing out stuff is just the epitome of upcycle crafting. The fact that another physical entity is made doesn't bother me too much. I'm not sure how long they'll last anyway. And who wouldn't want lovely garden art.
I've already digressed, but I suspect that will happen a lot before I am done, as I have a lot to say, and I haven't necessarily organized my thoughts. After completing #9, the Junk Ball, there was still a box of junk. A small box, one of those they sell at Michaels, about the size of a shoe box. But a shoe box can hold quite a lot of little bits and bobs. And more items have gotten added to the box. I like that there's now a box in the garage, so as I come across stuff, I just put it by the front door, then take it out to the garage.
Back in December, when I was cleaning out Mom's house, there were so many of these little items. Things I knew no one would want, so they weren't candidates for the estate sale, but things I couldn't bring myself to throw away. The little glass angel she kept on the shelf above the sink. Her house keys. The magnets on her refrigerator. Pins and costume jewelry and all the little things that roll around in a drawer, just like they did here in my house. I would stuff them in my pockets, or toss them into my backpack, and then they made their way to that box in the garage. But not for long. As soon as I completed the Mosaic Succulent Wall, I moved a blank bowling ball into the garage and I was ready to begin. I knew this project would be dedicated to Mom and contain all the stuff I brought home in my pockets and backpack.
The next section I added was the Raggedy Ann, also a magnet from her refrigerator. This I surrounded with some blue ceramic mini tiles, more glass gems and millefiore, and some pearl button covers from my junk box. Did she like Raggedy Ann because of her name? Again, something I don't know. This reminds me of getting a Raggedy Ann doll for Christmas one year. I might have been as old as 8, but I treasured that doll. It sat on my bed in the house in Bloomfield. At some point it was joined by Andy. I still have them both in my bedroom. Megan played with them for a while, but I made sure to get them back. I love those dolls.
The Pisces medallion and the other gold medallion were already in my house, but I am sure they were Mom's. She and Megan share being a Pisces, I'm an Aquarian. I believe she gave these to Megan a long time ago. Now they have a home on the ball. Another memory, distant and faint, but something about asking to play with jewelry. All little girls ask to play with jewelry, right? I can't remember if I asked Mom or Aunt Jo, Mom's sister. But I remember being thrilled to play with jewelry. And I feel I need to save some costume jewelry in case I am ever asked.
By the way, in case this is not yet clear, this mosaic ball is a Memory Ball. Because, there are so many memories evoked both in the process of creating and hopefully whenever I gaze upon it. There are so many stories embedded in this ball. I feel like it needs to come with instructions. "Please treasure this ball, it was made with love and contains precious memories". Sort of like the tag that comes on Paddington Bear.
There's one more magnet I included, her name. "Ann". Her full name was Antoinette. I suspect she didn't like that much, as hardly anyone called her Antoinette. I like it, it's different. There were three Ann's in the family, Aunt Ann across the street (Uncle Junie's wife) and Aunt Ann, Uncle Petey's wife, who I think was really called Anna. The "Ann" magnet is flexible so it wrapped well around the curve of the bowling ball. Near this is a mirror of unknown origins, and a gold and pearl piece from a necklace. This wasn't her necklace, but I picked it up at Robert's house when I was there for her funeral. This necklace sat on their dining room table for days. No one wanted it, but no one would do anything with it, except argue about who was going to do something with it. Finally I said I would take it, and now it too has a home; I simply cut off the chain. Below this is one of her house keys, and a hair clip I found on the street in New York when I was there in December.
Her house keys were on a key chain with a St. Christopher medal. He's the one who makes sure you don't lose things, therefore appropriate for a key chain. This I placed behind the angel bear, with the rest of her keys scattered over the surface. This is the first time I've used keys on a ball. I like how dimensional they are. I have lots more. On one of my crafting forays I once bought a whole box of keys. I don't think I've used any. I remember once Dad got a whole bucket of keys. This was at the house in Newark I am pretty sure, so I was less than 8 years old, and the memory of the circumstances is gone. But I remember the bucket of keys. It was a large bucket, like a 5-gallon paint bucket, and it was nearly full with keys. Dad collected metal of all sorts and he would sell it as scrap for cash. I think someone brought him the bucket. I don't know what ever happened to it, I guess he sold it. To me, it was a bucket of treasure. I think I can remember sifting through the bucket. There would be that pungent metal smell and my hands likely got pretty dirty. But oh the treasure. Behind every key there must be a story. These were old keys, some of them skeleton keys. There is another key chain I found in the dining room hutch, I "heart" NY. I don't know anything about it. To set the record straight, I don't "heart" NY, I "heart" San Francisco, but I like the way this apple-shaped key chain takes up space on the ball, surrounded by gems, china and millefiore.
Mom liked to play scrabble. I can't remember the last time we played. I should have played with her when I visited. I should have done a lot of things. But playing Scrabble is a happy memory, so I put some scrabble letters on the ball to spell out "M O M". Don't worry, I didn't pilfer these from my game. At some point in my craft supply collecting, probably in my Artist Trading Card days, and likely in the same timeframe in which I bought a box of keys, I bought an extra set of tiles to use for crafts. I made sure all my game tiles were safely in place. There is that "Letter Distribution" guide on the side of the board. I used it to carefully sort through the tiles to make sure they are all there. And while I was at it, I played a game. With myself, because no one will play with me. Just as well, as I am a very bad loser. I won, but it was close. I included other game pieces on the ball, mahjong and dominoes. These are mostly costume pieces from junk jewelry I've made, although at least one dominoe, the large red and purple one under Raggedy Ann, is a piece I found on the beach at Carmel. I wanted to include a couple of dice I picked up at Mom's house, but like the jars of marbles I carried home, which yes did put me over the 50 lb limit, I'm not ready yet. They seem too precious, I don't know their story. Suppose they are somehow too valuable to be siliconed in place.
What else is on the ball?
- buttons and pins and earrings I got at Scrap in San Francisco; I remember sorting through the tray of things that was outside and therefore sitting in an inch of rainwater. But they were free!
- a watch ring that I gave Megan for Christmas one year. I'm not sure it ever worked or was ever worn, but it was a well-intended gift. And somehow she learned to be reasonably on time in life, an important characteristic. I had to mount the face on a piece of tile, and it kept wanting to curl back up, so I had to sit and hold it in place for about 15 minutes.
- there is a whole set of intriguing copper enameled circles, some with numbers on them. I think I found these in Megan's boxes of junk. Not sure of their origins, but they are lovely little things. I have more, likely to appear on the next ball.
- circular mirrors and filler tiles; glass tiles that I got at Mendel's Far Out Fabrics, glass and ceramic tiles left over from all the previous mosaic projects, flat-backed glass beads; all those glass gems I got at the closing sale at Big Apple grocery are all gone now.
- a few beads and pearls, all of these likely found on the street.
- a couple of those flattened pennies I found at Mom's house; I'm surprised there weren't more of these. I have a bunch more that Megan collected when we traveled, but I'm not ready to glue these to a ball yet
- costume earrings and button covers
- and on the very bottom, out of sight, bits of glass and ceramic plates
Now for some practical notes:
- GE Silicone II clear 30-minute rain-ready is THE product to use; it's messy and a little noxious (I always work in the ventilated garage) but it holds, it's waterproof and the flexibility enables it to handle the expansion and contraction of the bowling balls in the heat and cold. I like using the 30-minute rain-ready on a rounded surface. When I used the 3-hour product, there was too much likelihood of items slipping out of place. A tube lasts for multiple projects and with coupons is just a few bucks.
- for a few hollow objects like button covers, I fill them with ready-made mortar. This is not necessarily weather-proof, but it gets covered with silicone so I think it will be okay
- oh and what the heck is this ball sitting on? No idea, but I suspect it's a chafing dish holder, as there appears to be a place to set a Sterno. I got it at Savers for $3.99 (less with my donation discount)
- is everything weather and sun proof? Not sure. I remember how disheartened I was when Junk Ball #9, after being left on the front porch for only a week, had the main focal enamel pin completely bleached of color. I've since painted it and moved it to the shade. I did put some polyurethane coating on the ceramic magnets.
- Some objects are far more dimensional than others. Since I am not grouting, I am not too concerned with an even surface, but I did use plastic buttons or bits of tiles glued to the backs of objects, like those copper discs, to raise them
- I finished this project in less than a week. Because of the curved surface, I can only work on a small space then have to let it set. Again, the 30 minute set time is a plus.
- What if there is something that I really want off the ball? It can be pried off with an exacto knife if necessary.
- Although I have not done so yet, I may grout the white china bottom, but only if I feel like it will improve the sustainability of the project.
In conclusion, I don't think Mom or Dad would necessarily "get" a project like this, although they both greatly appreciated craftiness. Come to think of it, I'm not sure anyone will get it, but as I started out saying, I love it. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.