Everyday I would take the same route through town to get to work. It almost became automatic enough that I could describe every house and every tree I passed. But one day I took a second look at one specific house’s lawn. A smile immediately came to my face and I fell in love with what they had put out for everyone to see. A large, perfectly round, bright red and black ladybug with huge white eyes stared at me as I drove by.
Everyday I would get excited to drive by this house just to see that ladybug. One morning it was gone. I was sad and had wondered if someone had come by and stole it. To my surprise, the next morning the lawn was littered with about 6 of them! All different colors! At this point I almost stopped the car to go ask them where they bought the ladybugs because I wanted one so badly.
A couple weeks passed and I would see the ladybugs come and go. As my husband and I drove past the house one afternoon I saw a sign in the yard saying “Ladybugs For Sale”. I made my husband turn around so I could go get one!
They creator’s name is Jack Sparks. Along with his wife Connie, he collects bowling balls and turns them into a beautiful work of art. Connie is largely involved because she is the one who finds and drives all over the region to obtain the bowling balls. I interviewed Jack one afternoon to find out a little more about his creations.
Jack was inspired to start making bowling ball ladybugs after seeing an article in his neighbor’s Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. A retired bowler had turned some of his old bowling balls into ladybugs. Jack thought it was a really good idea and decided to try his hand at it.
“I got attached after making the first 8 to 10 of them. They were like kids to me”, states Jack.
At first he was just creating the ladybugs as a hobby for his own keeping. But after the first time he displayed them in his front yard, people started coming by asking to buy them from him. He gathered up more bowling balls from around the area and started filling orders.
Jack noted, ” At first I thought, there’s no way people would want to buy these. But now I have people wanting more than I can make!”
Jack personally creates each one of his pieces from scratch. No two are alike in that he does not have a set template. Rather, he uses a series of masking, hand cutting the design, and spraying each color. It takes 3 separate series of masking and spraying to achieve the flawless colors and lines. Each piece is then sprayed with a clear acrylic coating for color protection and easy cleaning.
“I start out by smoothing out any cracks or nicks in the bowling ball” says Jack. “It takes about 3 to 4 hours of total work for each piece. Overall, it takes about 3 days to complete one ball with all the spraying and drying.”
Jack’s bowling ball ladybugs are already spreading out all over this country…and further! He has had people visiting the area stop and buy some of his art to take home, along with local residents going crazy over them. Currently he has his ladybugs in gardens in Illinois, Ohio, Arkansas, Missouri, and Canada.
“People are wanting them to give as gifts for Grandparent’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Christmas. I’m going to run out of bowling balls before I can get to all the orders!”, Jack says.
For now, Jack is mostly doing this as a hobby, but says it he can find a supply of bowling balls it could turn into a business. “It varies week to week”, says Jack. “One week I could sell 7 to 10, the next week none.”
The ladybugs can be made to order in different colors and with different facial markings. So far, Jack has made them in red, yellow, pink, purple, green, and blue. He is starting to become more and more creative in his artistry by expanding to different animals. Currently he makes ladybugs, pigs, and 4-ball long centipedes. He tells me next he wants to try his hand at making a turtle, butterfly, dragonfly, bumble bee, and even a cow and blowfish!
If you would like to personally see or buy one of his ladybugs, or any other animal he has made, you can visit his house at 1010 Metropolis St, Metropolis, IL, 62960. You can also contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to make a special request order.