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Skateboarders are scratching Orange's big balls. More gold leaf required

February 23, 2023

A gold ball awaiting repair on Tuesday. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

By Peter Holmes

The big gold balls around Orange are having to be touched up with gold leaf after being scratched by skateboards and possibly other items.

The controversial spherical artworks, which divided the city along pro-ball and anti-ball lines, trace the path of Blackmans Swamp Creek, and represent pins being stuck into a map.

They were installed in 2022 at a cost of more than $90,000.

Many in town became so angry about the balls there was concern heads may explode.

The Orange News Examiner happened upon two council workers tending to a fenced-off ball near Orange City Council chambers on Tuesday morning.

A section of a gold ball awaiting repair on Tuesday. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

They weren't allowed to officially talk to media or pose for a photo without permission from council's Communications Wing, and that could take anything from an hour to forever, but we managed to extract some information about what was happening.

The gold leaf coating that covers the balls has been scratched by skateboards.

The leaf on most of the balls around town has held up remarkably well when you factor in Orange's weather extremes and the small cohort who just like to break stuff.

But when the balls are scratched, water can seep into the concrete and cause irreparable damage.

A ball in better days. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

A close up of a ball before the leaf was scratched. Copyright: Orange News Examiner.

And so around the city you'll see various balls fenced off, awaiting repair.

The workers first smooth the balls where they have been scratched, and then apply a glue to which a layer of gold leaf is fixed.

It takes a tiny amount of gold to create a sheet of gold leaf, said one of the workers. A sheet is so wispy it would lift into the sky and float away at the smallest gust of wind.


Do you approve of Orange's gold balls?

  • Yes.

  • No.

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