Thursday, July 26, 2012

I.S.S. in the Real World: West Coast Style

Hey Folks,

Here's how skinny dudes in California kick it with there I.S.S. tees.  Both of these guys are top level cyclists, and Roman (in Galaxy Tee) races pro for Kenda/5 Hour Energy.  Look out for him on the roads (if you can catch him!)

Also in I.S.S. news, our Chief Sphaeralogist was commissioned to create a one-of-a-kind Sphaeragemma for a young lady who picked out a bouncy ball after a Dr.'s appointment.

The custom neck piece, Em's Gems.


The Founders

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Hypersphaera vaporifer

Hypersphaera vaporifer
Vaporous Superball

These uniformly colored balls differ from other solidly colored balls in that they are semi-opaque. They have a clear coating of rubber over a solid core, creating the appearance of a colored mist.  Unlike "ades" of aeris, they do not contain any white swirls.

Hypersphaera vaporifer
by Henry J. Simonds

Specimen box of H vaporifer from the series, Requiem for the Super Ball®

Found object sculpture.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith, ©2011

Hypersphaera phosphori

Hypersphaera phosphori
Glow-in-the-Dark Superball

These translucent Superballs contain a substance that radiates visible light after being energized.  These "phosphors" - often Zinc Sulfide or Strontium Aluminate - will provide a persistent visible glow when they are moved from light into darkness.  The length of luminescence and brightness depends on the strength of the energizing light source and duration of exposure.  The light (and the balls) and general green, but can vary depending on the pigment of the rubber in which it is housed.  Occasionally, a printed pattern will be applied or the phosphors can be mixed into a portion of the ball creating varied phosphorescence.

Hyperpshaerae phosphori
by Henry J. Simonds

Specimen boxes created for the exhibition, Requiem for the Super Ball®.

Constructed from wire hangers, hand-carved and engraved brass and found objects.

Photos Courtesy of Steve Smith, ©2011
(Detail of balls glowing in the dark.)

Hypersphaera paschaovum

Hypersphaera paschaovum
Easter Egg Superball

This family of balls - if you can call them that - is one of several non-spherical forms in which you'll find bouncy balls.  These egg shaped oblong objects are made with the same rubbers and production methods as other Hypersphaera, 
although these—unlike most—are not cast in molds with two halves.  They are primarily uniform in texture and are either brightly colored in solids or banded with color in the manner of a hand-dipped Easter Egg.  (Photo Courtesy of Lenore M. Edman,

Hypersphaera paschaovum
by Henry J. Simonds

A specimen box form the series, Requiem for the Super Ball®.

Constructed of found objects.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith, ©2011

Friday, July 20, 2012

Hypersphaera gauisus

Hypersphaera gauisus
Smiley Face Superball

Made in a variety of colors* and densities - ranging from clear to opaque - including the traditional yellow background, H gauisus is commonly characterized by a printed black Smiley (or Happy) Face on a solid background.  A stylized representation of a smiling humanoid face, the graphic as we know it today, with its bright yellow background, dark oval eyes, and creases at the sides of the mouth was invented in 1963 by Harvey Ball, an American commercial artist employed by State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts.  It was originally intended as a way to boost corporate morale. Though Ball's claim of origination has been disputed - most famously by European Franklin Loufrani, who had the sense to file a copyright - and there are varying forms, his simple graphic is one of the most ubiquitous marks of 20th century illustration.

Photo Courtesy of Lenore M. Edman

Hypersphaera gauisus
by Henry J. Simonds

A hand-made specimen box from the exhibition, Requiem for the Super Ball®.
Constructed of reclaimed and found materials.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith, ©2011
*Hypersphaerae gauisus

Hand-made specimen boxes by Henry J. Simonds, created for the exhibition, Bounce, produced in collaboration with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

Constructed of reclaimed and found materials.

Photo: ©2014 Henry J. Simonds/Headwater Media.

Hypersphaera primomarmoreus

Hypersphaera primomarmoreus
Marbled Primary Color Superball

As distinguished from other swirls and cyclone styles, the ribbons and eddies of color here do not originate from a single injection point of origin in the mold but appear to have been administered through an additive process of rolling.  The marbling is similar to the effect of hand-rolling clay or dough of varying colors and adhere more to principles of fluid dynamics. 

(Photo Courtesy of Lenore M. Edman,

Hypersphaera primomarmoreus
by Henry J. Simonds

An original specimen box from the series, Requiem for the Super Ball®.
Constructed of found and vintage objects.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith, ©2011

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Find here, friends, a fine example of how one man's pen was inspired by our old bouncy.

-  The Founders

The Super Ball was invented in 1965. Thrown down, it could leap over a three-story building…and would bounce on for about a minute after being dropped from a short distance. Wham-O's oft-repeated claim was that the ball had 92 percent resiliency.
My brother and I drank in the kitchen while the adults drank
in the basement. We’d lifted a twelve-pack from the fridge. 

No one noticed or cared. Somebody called to offer condolences
and I laughed till beer spewed out my nose.

What was funny about my grandmother dying?
She’d lived with us for fifteen years. We should’ve been…What?
Drinking with our parents instead? Her children, reunited members
of the unacknowledged “A” team of alcohol. Ten more years

and two more funerals before anyone tacked on the other A.


My grandmother only drank Drambuie, and only for medicinal
purposes. Downstairs, they passed a bottle in her memory.

A cousin’s pocket bulged with a Super Ball.
They’d just come out, replacing the Slinky in Fadville. 

March thaw. We took the kid outside. Grandma farts a lot, 
he said. He didn’t live with her. He thought she still might be

coming back. We held him down and dislodged it
from his sticky hands. We hammered his Super Ball 

against the street bearded with dirty snow 
and watched it disappear.


That chubby little cousin killed himself twenty years later. 
Too much dessert. Eat your vegetables, dude, 

I should’ve said. It bounced high and wild down the street,
ricocheting off the parked cars of the grieving. Cold enough

for runny noses and the back of a sleeve. Nobody wore coats. 
Good in the lungs, that air. Nobody had any dope. Big bust

in the neighborhood. We lost the damn ball—kid started crying. 
We drove off in grandma’s car—an old gray Falcon with no radio—

to the five and dime and bought a bunch of Super Balls 
with cash stolen from the funeral kitty. The kid was happy. 

Everybody was happy. a Super Ball Orgy. My brother and I 
stood at each end of the block, firing them back and forth

watching them rise over our boxy little houses till it got dark
or we ran out of beer or got cold or somebody barked us back 

into the wake to move the ping pong table or drive Aunt Millie home. 


It’s okay to laugh, Aunt Millie’d caught us. Cool, Aunt Millie—
did you ever get high? Got any dope?
Grandma liked the Irish Rovers. I was taking requests,
cranking up “Danny Boy” at 45 rpms till it almost rocked.

We bought grandma a new rosary each year. 
Blessed by the Pope. Touched by the kids in Guadalupe. 

Made by blind midgets in Omaha. She left us each one. 
They jiggled in our pockets like Chiclets, the cross

 a crotch discomfort. I don’t know how grandma 
would’ve wanted to go, but not as Farting Grandma,

Where’d everybody go? Just me and my brother
at the kitchen table, into the Drambuie ourselves,

getting sick in memory.


I’d loved her, little old grandma, but I was 
a Stupor Ball. Jesus was her Super Ball.

I shouldn’t have been driving her old car.
The moon came out to shame me.

Fifteen years of her shrinking, reduced
resiliency, curling into herself with the fragile

delicacy of a charcoal snake till she disintegrated
and blew away. So, get mad, get drunk, laugh loud. 

Drinking as hobby, sport, part-time job. As she went deaf,
silence leaked from her bones. She must’ve believed 

she was coming back to Jesus, bead by bead. 
Nobody had any funny stories to tell about her. 

Watching the Super Balls erupt off cement 
in a reckless, indestructible surge, I became addicted too,

and shame on me. 92% resiliency. I wound up 
and smashed my grief into concrete, but it simply rose, 

and rose, high, higher still.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hypersphaera monochromaticus

Hypersphaera monochromaticus
Monochromatic Superball

Opaque and uniformly colored.  These solid, colorful balls come in the range of colors that can be found on the Chromatic Scale or appear in the visible spectrum. Also known as Spectral Colors.  In color theory, that is defined as color based on pure colors and variations of intensity.

After the introduction of the Original SuperBall®, these solid colored balls appeared in short order to satisfy the demand for more variety.

Photos Courtesy of Lenore M. Edman

Hypersphaerae monochromaticus
by Henry J. Simonds

This signature work from the series, Requeim for the Super Ball®, was created using reclaimed wood from and old Ikea side-table and a full spectrum of vintage Super Balls®.  Hand-cut and hand finished, the boxes in the triptych took over 50 hours to construct.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith, ©2011

Hypersphaera billiardus

Hypersphaera billiardus
Pocket Billiards Ball Superball

This early variety of bouncy ball was developed to imitate the numbering and coloring of billiards balls used in the Pocket Billiards games, 8 Ball and 9 Ball.  The numbering is typically achieved by glueing a circular number plate to a solid or stripped ball of the relevant color as dictated by the rules of billiards.  Occasionally (as seen at left) the numbering will be printed or dyed in the cast when the ball is molded.

Photo Courtesy of Lenore M. Edman

Hypersphaerae billiardus
by Henry J. Simonds

This specimen box was the first created in the series, Requiem for the Super Ball®.

Constructed from an old dresser, green felt, and vintage bouncy balls.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith
© 2011

Sphaeralogists Share

Hey Folks,

A couple of dedicated Sphaeralogists shared a few fun facts and fictions with us recently.  First off, Lorna L. sent us this picture of what we expect will become the Official I.S.S. Car.  That is if they ever make another one.

Around the same time, Charlene C. discovered a craft blog, The Idea Room with instructions on how to make your very OWN bouncy ball.  This one might interest you Sphaerents out there.


The Founders

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hypersphaera exsplendesco

Hypersphaera  exsplendesco
Glitter Superball

These sparkly balls vary in color and transparency, at times appearing either clear or translucent. Embedded within are iridescent pieces of colored mylar or paper that vary in size, color, and density.  Occasionally, the glitter can vary in shape (I.e, stars) or can be embedded along with other small objects, giving the balls a snow-globe like quality.

Photo Courtesy of Lenore M. Edman

Hypersphaera exsplendesco
by Henry J. Simonds

This specimen box was created for the exhibition, Requiem for the Super Ball®.  It is constructed of vintage, found, and repurposed materials.

Photo Courtesy of Steve Smith
© 2011
Hypersphaera exsplendesco, 2014

This specimen box by Henry J. Simonds was created for the exhibition, Bounce, a collaboration with the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.  

Photo: © 2014 Henry J. Simonds/Headwater Media