Friday, October 8, 2010

Vintage Pool Balls Catch Another Break

Sometimes, repurposed things just work. And while sustainability seems like a good idea, the real appeal is that old things are given a second lease on life. Especially if the otherwise discarded item becomes something no one ever intended.

Like vintage pool ball bottle stoppers. These handcrafted stoppers come from Henry Road, a design studio and store. And what makes them so interesting is each is one of a kind, and you will never know which color or number you might get, solid or striped. (Unless you ask someone at Henry Road. They will look for you.)

Henry Road, A Collection Of Textiles.

Based in Los Angeles, Henry Road is the brainchild of Paula Smail and her vision to fashion a collection of fun and eclectic home goods and gifts. If you ask her about it, she might call it her scrapbook, album and travelogue all rolled into one.

Even the store name has been repurposed. One of her childhood homes was located on Henry Road in South Africa. But Smail, like her self-taught taste in design, is really a product of the world. She lived in London, Paris and New York before making Los Angeles her home.

She accepts work from dozens of interesting artists, recently adding the work of Brooke Fischer, who is inspired by anything and everything, ranging from hand-colored botanical prints from the early 1800s to the complexity with the simplicity of Andy Warhol.

Fischer isn't responsible for the pool ball stoppers. That find belongs to Smail, probably by way of Nashville, where a company called Knobstoppers repurposes dozens of interesting items. In this case, they affixed the vintage balls to stoppers made of reinforced cork to fit wine bottles, liquor bottles or, in my case, olive oil bottles. Turn them like a doorknob when you put them in and turn and pull to take them out. It's simple.

Vintage Pool Ball Stoppers Break A 3.4 on the Liquid HIp Richter Scale.

There are other places you can find vintage pool ball wine bottle stoppers, including Amazon. But Henry Road tends to be meticulous in its picks and polish.

Pool might have been around since the 15th century and isn't likely to disappear soon, but the mass appeal — everyone from royalty to and hustlers — coupled with creative repurposing, makes pool ball stoppers memorable. You can find them at Henry Road here and the manufacturer here (along with doorknobs, buttons, and fixtures).

Just be glad these vintage balls are made out resin. There was a brief period of time when they were made of celluloid, which wasn’t a good idea, given they could “explode” upon impact. I just think it's fun to uncork olive oil with a ball that might have been hit by the greats like Willie Mosconi (1913-1993) and rival Minnesota Fats (1913-1996).
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