I originally posted this project in April 2009, but I’ve decided to re-run it for CSI Project’s Typography challenge, because not too many people saw it back then, and because I still think it’s pretty neat!
A couple of
months years ago my friend Dixie and I were in Pottery Barn and saw a display with some ceramic alphabet balls. I don’t even remember looking for a price, but they were not on the website, so apparently were not available through the catalog.
We both loved the look and started brainstorming about how to create such a thing. Dixie thought of ping pong balls. I ran with that, and remembering some rub-on letters that I had, gave that a try. It worked great!
Coincidentally, the very next day I had an online gift certificate I needed to use. There were only two stores that I recognized that accepted it; one was Coldwater Creek, so I started there. I couldn’t believe it when I stumbled upon their Word Play Letter and Number Spheres! They were on clearance, and I got them for just a few dollars for the whole set. They came in large and small, and Dixie and I got both and divvied them up. They no longer carry them, but I have since seen these type of ceramic alphabet balls in a number of places, usually for anywhere from $1 to $2 each!
I decided to go ahead and try one of the ping pong balls, just to see if it would work, and to give you the option of making them if you wanted to.
I got the little package of ping pong balls at Walmart, but they have a logo on them. If you were going to do this for real, you would want to get blank ones (check Ebay…they’re really cheap).
I cut out the rub-on letters individually, held it down sort of curving around the ball, and just rubbed it on with the stick. If you look closely at the top photo, you can see that each ceramic ball has the letter several times. Six, to be exact; four around the diameter and then one top and bottom.
Next, I gave it a few coats of glossy ModPodge. You can push a pin into the ball and use that to hold it while you brush on the ModPodge.
I then stuck the pin into some floral foam to let it dry. Obviously, if you were doing a bunch of these, you would need a lot of pins and a lot more foam to stick them in. Really, it could be anything that would support it and allow you to push the flat end of a straight pin into it. Maybe clay or playdough.
Here, I’ve put the ping pong ball in with the ceramic ones. It’s the ‘U’ on the top left. If it wasn’t a slightly different typography, I don’t think you could tell!
This was really quite easy, and you could make a bunch of them without too much effort. But if you didn’t want to make the whole alphabet, you could always just spell out a special word, or your family’s initials, or whatever.
I’d love to know if you try this! Have fun!