Every now and again you’ll replace your pool balls or find some old ones at a garage sale and get a few artistic ideas. This is only natural, as these spherical, painted balls are aesthetically pleasing due to their shape and fine paintjobs.
Today we’re going to encourage that urge with 7 things you can do with old pool balls. We’ve got a few artistic ideas to get your creative juices flowing and a quick warning about antique pool balls that you might find of interest.
As long as you pay attention to this antique-ball-bulletin, then repurposing your pool balls creatively is a lot of fun and gives you some unique decorative options that will look great in your game room or anywhere else in the house that you like. Let’s get that warning out of the way and share a few creative ideas which are completely billiard-born!
A Warning About Antique Pool Balls: Nitrocellulose
While the odds are that you won’t be working with one of these, we’d be amiss if we didn’t mention this possible explosive pitfall. In the mid-1900s traditional ivory balls ceased production due to a perceived shortage of ivory.
Pheland and Collender, a major billiards supplier of the time issued a $10,000 reward for anyone who could produce billiard balls that a similar density and rebound properties that would mirror those of ivory and someone quickly met that challenge. A man named John Wesley Hyatt developed a substance called Celluloid.
While it had the right properties, it incorporated a substance called Nitrocellulose, which had the unfortunate (or super-cool, depending on your view) tendency to snap like a gunshot when balls hit each other with the right amount of percussive force.
Naturally, this sort of plastic quickly was quickly replaced but there are still some nitrocellulose balls floating around out there. Supposedly it will dissolve with acetone, but if you are not sure about some antique balls that you want to repurpose, it’s better to leave them alone and to definitely not drill into them.
Now that we’ve gotten that juicy little warning out of the way, here are some great ideas for repurposing more modern and completely safe pool balls!
1. Door Stops
Making a doorstopper out of a pool ball is easy and looks quite nice. All you will need to do is find a door-stopper base to use and drill into the ball so that you can screw the ball safely into the base. The colorful pool balls look nice and this is a fine addition to a game room for avid aficionados of billiards.
You can also make them fairly quickly with a quick trip to the hardware store and a handy drill to prepare the ball for the screw, so this is a quick billiards-themed gift that you can make cheaply but which will be most appreciated by fans of the game.
2. Coat Hangers
The shape of a pool ball is perfect for hanging coats on the door and this is one are that you can have a lot of fun with. Whether it is a simple post, much like the doorstopper is made, or just incorporating a more elaborate hook design that you buy online or at your local hardware store, a billiard-ball coat-hook is a practical gift that is sure to be enjoyed.
You can find 3-pronged style coat-hangers which are optimal for small spaces, as well, and these look particularly nice without hogging a lot of space. Put the 8 ball in the highest center point and pick 2 complimentary colors for the remaining 2 balls in the lower sconce.
Voilla! You now have a super-stylish coat hanger!
3. Bottle Stoppers
A really nice way to repurpose old pool balls is to make them into bottle stoppers. This is practical and aesthetically pleasing and fairly easy to make. You just need to affix a metal stem to your pool ball so that you can then screw it into a wine cork.
Once done, you’ve produced a unique stopper, but don’t stop at one. Get yourself a nice wooden box that you can paint or burn a decoration into and line it with velvet. This way you can make a set to place inside and give yourself or someone you appreciate a fine and most unique gift.
4. Flowerpot or Glass Vase Decoration
An easy way to decorate indoor or outdoor plants is to simply take old pool balls and pile them in on top. Choose some bright, complimentary colors and you’ve got a simple way to draw attention to your plants will look good and won’t hinder you from watering them.
You can also simply place a bunch of old billiard balls inside a clear glass vase and place it anywhere that you like. The effect is simple, but quite pleasing to the eye and it is sure to draw notice.
5. Put Them in an Old Gumball Machine
For anywhere from $20 to $120 you can acquire a new or even a vintage gumball machine and make a game room or standard house decoration that you can gift or show proudly and tastefully as part of your home décor.
A gumball machine is something that everyone recognizes and by adding just a few pool balls inside, you have a decoration that evokes both nostalgia and can also reflect a love of billiards. It’s easy to make and if you want to keep the balls from rolling around, you can sand and glue a specific formation quite easily.
6. Table-Leg Decoration
By drilling a central hollow which is the exact circumference of a thin table leg, you can easily fit a pool ball at any height and secure it with a thin seal of glue or latex. This looks particularly nice on tall, tripod-tables and is a simple, elegant modification that you can make quite quickly.
By sanding the base of the balls to make a flat, stable surface and by hollowing the top and center, you can make a simple, but attractive candleholder. Take it a step further if you like, by affixing a full set inside a rack and you’ve got a decoration that looks good and for billiard-playing couples, can provide a little romantic ambience for private games!
With a little creativity and a well-stocked workroom, you can make all kinds of items out of old pool balls that would normally (and quite wastefully) be discarded. These balls are already attractively painted and their spherical shape means that you can definitely do more with them than simply throwing them away.
We hope that the ideas presented here have gotten the creative gears turning in your head and given you either a project which you can start on or an idea which is all your own for making the most out of this attractive medium.
So, what are you waiting for? Put those old billiard balls to some good use. Make them into something which is practical or even just pleasing to the eye. With a little drilling, sanding, and the choice application of epoxies or glues you can quickly whip up something that will help to make your game room closer to the perfect place that you envision in your mind!