Process and materials

Process and materials

Marble Soccer Ball

Making a marble soccer ball is very labor intensive, and has required a lot of experimentation to find a good process, but the way I'm doing it seems to be working for me.  The process is split into about 7 steps.

Step 1:  Backing
   I glue a backing material to the marble before cutting it, which makes it easier to handle and increases the strength of the final sphere.

Step 2:  Cutting The Pieces
   I very accurately cut out the 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons that make up the soccer ball.  At this time, I also cut the correct angles on each piece to ensure the ball will assemble correctly.

Step 3: Assemble and glue
   The most stressful part of the process.  I assemble, glue with epoxy and clamp the ball simultaneously in one step.

Step 4:  Angle grind
   After the glue has set for a minimum of 48 hours, I use an angle grinder with a 'grinding cup' to grind off the rough edges before putting it in the sphere machine.

Step 5:  Rough grind to a sphere
   I built a 'sphere machine' which has 3 motors attached to 'sphere grinding cups'.  This grinds the ball to a sphere.  At this stage, the ball is still very rough.

Step 6:  Polishing 
   In the same sphere machine, I use 10 stages of successively finer grits, starting at 50 grit and working up to 10,000 grit to polish the ball to a gloss finish.  

Step 7:  Sealing
   Like all marble, it should be sealed to avoid staining.  I apply 3 coats of marble sealer and a 'polish' step to bring the ball to a bright finish.

Marble Soccer Ball Materials

I currently use 3 kinds of marble in my soccer balls.

Carrara Venato is an Italian natural stone marble, which has a white base and less veining compared to Carrara Bianco, creating an overall whiter appearance.

Carrara Bianco is also an Italian natural stone marble. Carrara Bianco is a classic Italian marble with more veining and mottling than the Venato marble.

Nero Marquina is a classic black marble. This black stone has some beautiful white veining and is quarried in Spain.