Hollow Garden Sphere Mold Question

Please Explain Deflatable Balls for Making
Hypertufa or Concrete Hollow Garden Spheres

I received an email from Debbie asking me:

In the instructions given for the Hypertufa Hollow Garden Sphere, one of the materials needed was a deflatable ball.

Can you advise me where I would get such a ball? What size does it come in and what type material is it made of? (Guess you can see I don’t have any young kids at home nor any grandchildren. :D)

Thanks for your help. Oh by the way, I love the project info you send. My neighbor and I have tried a lot of the projects you have sent to me in your great little Newsletter. Debbie

My reply:

Hi Debbie:
I’ll be happy to explain this for you. You can use a plastic blow-up (inflatable) beach ball like the kind you’d toss back and forth to each other while frolicking on the beach 🙂 which you can buy at most drug stores, Wal-Mart, etc. Just depends upon the climate zone where you live as to whether you’ll be able to find them year-round. Stores don’t usually stock them during frigid winter months. Or of course I am sure you’ll find them on the internet. And they’re pretty cheap.

Use caution when using beach balls for hypertufa hollow spheres.The main thing, though about using these balls for a hollow sphere mold (form) is that they can deflate S..L..O..W..L..Y and without it being noticeable in the beginning. Most normally this is due to a pin-sized hole that allows the air to escape. I know in my case, as a kid, sometimes I’d find that my new beach ball was pretty much totally deflated within about a day. This was probably caused by a tiny pinhole leak.

Now … add the weight of a heavy, wet ‘tufa or concrete recipe pressing down on the ball. The weight helps to accelerate the air escaping. Some crafters have reported that when they came back the next day to inspect their sphere to see how it was curing – yikes! They found a pretty sad looking deflated and slumped down sphere.

Now … perhaps this “disaster” might prove to be an interesting sculptural form that once cured can be painted and utilized in some other fashion, but let’s just say most folks end up having to trash the project. So … “cheap” beach balls are quite OK most of the time and hold air without causing a project failure … but just be aware of the potential deflation problem.

Or you can get one of the big heavy-rubber inflatable types that people use to exercise with. These can be found at Wal-Mart or Target in the exercise depts. (as examples) and just the other day I saw some at T.J. Maxx for sale. This size ball would of course be used if you want to make a really big garden sphere. But deflation problems from small leaks most likely won’t be an issue for you.

Now, there are other smaller, sturdier type balls you could use, but you asked about inflatable/deflatable, so I am mentioning the most often used balls. You want something with a stem you can blow into or can hook-up an air supply to for automatic inflation. And the stem allows you to deflate the ball easily after your sphere has cured enough.

Good luck with your hollow sphere project!

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