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Quest For a Spherical Form

Landscaping With Concrete Spheres

Several years ago, in Pamplona, Spain, I saw, along the road, several stone or concrete spheres, about 16 inches in diameter. When we came back home, I wondered how a person might do that.

At first, I decided I might use something like a ball, make a form out of fiberglass, and make it easy to take apart. I started small, 3 inches. Soon I had myself a fine round concrete ball. They were pretty cool, but soon the challenge became making them bigger.

I tried an 8 inch ball, using a spherical object and a fiberglass mold. It worked pretty good, but to make a bigger one proved a bit more difficult.

When I find myself challenged, mentally, and, believe me, I feel that way, I have a bad tendency to not give up. I found a guy who made fiberglass molds for spheres to be used for a 'strongman' competition. I actually decided it would be cheaper to have him make me a form. I sent him, I am so embarrassed to say, some money.

Hmm, yeah.

Beware the bad form maker

A few weeks went by, and my contact, from Newfoundland, was having some bad internet things being written about him. I felt sure I would not get my form, and pretty positive I would not get my money back. Well, at this point I not only felt mentally challenged, but extremely foolish. But, the UPS man brought a package that I eagerly opened. Inside, I found what seemed like it 'might' work, but it, was a little, uh, lumpy.

I cast a ball from it.

Yeah. It was lumpy. Not really round, exactly.

One thing that is cool about a sphere is that it really is a great shape. A graceful shape, the shape of our world, the moon, the stars and the sun. Energywise, it is the graceful solution to many ideas, the shape with the least surface area per unit volume, the form dearest to man. One guy who I emailed in New South Wales made stainless steel spheres. He told me that making the sphere, a large one, is not that easy a task. When it is out of round, or lumpy, it kind of defeats the 'cool' factor.

You might not think the above ball is that bad, if say, viewed from a distance, like we view the moon, which, according to astronomers, is not perfect. It is bad, though. Unacceptible, really.

So, my new friend in New South Wales bought one of my CD's, and gave me hope that I was not on an impossible quest. I even tried buying some acrylic half sphere domes, which, when put together, made, hmm, kind of an almond shape. You would think they would be making them just great, but alas, and much to the chastisement of my daughter, who thought me quite wasteful... spending good money that might otherwise go to purchase some fashionable jeans with holes, or something.

Along the driveway

Believe it or not, I just about threw in the towel on the whole idea, and several years had gone by. I tried one more time to make a form of my own, and realized I just did not enjoy large fiberglass projects-- and then it hit me.

I tried one last attempt, and now I can say that anyone can make a concrete sphere with relatively low cost form, of just about any size -- up to, say, 36 inches, perhaps.

I have based the start of my landscaping on a large circle, with a 16 inch sphere on each, minute line, that is, every 6 degrees of arc. The radius is 180 feet, roughly.

These concrete spheres are sixteen inches in diameter resting on a cap. In each ball, I just put re-bar coming out of its neck so that I could plop it into some wet concrete in the center of the cap where it rests. The ones in Spain had a threaded bolt coming out of the ground and a recieving threaded nut in the ball. I am not sure if they were cast or carved from stone.

What has really cheapened this whole experience is that Target decided to put spherical balls on their new stores, painted bright red! Ugh.