To be a good – nay, GREAT – artist or designer, you need to see the beauty in everything – a sunset, a yapping dog, a wad of lint. Some people make deceptive paper sculptures. Others make wallets out of rocks. But no matter what they use, you can bet the end result is something truly unique and awesome.

Bobby Duke is one such maker who takes everyday objects and turns them into works of art. In one of his more recent projects, he takes an old billiard ball and carves it into an anatomically correct human skull sculpture:

After a quick conversation with Winston – his insightful skull reference – Bobby takes a marker, carves out some reference points, and begins cutting away with his rotary tool. He soon realizes that cutting a colored ball ends up dulling its color, so he decides to work with the infinitely cooler black 8 BALL instead. Time to grind.

billiard ball skull

Bobby grinds down the outer layer of the ball to get the general shape and adds additional reference points, then grinds further to define the overall form. Like many sculptors, he uses a technique where he redraws reference points on the material. As more of the skull detail emerges, it helps with the more intricate details such as the eye holes, jawline, and teeth. Let’s have a look-see:

billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull

Smaller details require more precise tools, so Bobby switches out his tungsten carbide cutter for a couple of different-sized helical bits. These allow him to get right in there and drill the eyeholes, nose, and the other complex parts of the skull’s anatomy.

As he delves deeper into the sculpting process, Bobby relies less on his reference points and instead looks back and forth at Winston the skull (who is sadly off-screen) for inspiration.

With much of the form complete, he starts into the nitty-gritty of sculpting the finer details. Using even tinier bits on his rotary tool, Bobby grinds away at the nose area, jawline and, finally, the skull’s teeth.

billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull

The teeth are especially difficult to sculpt because apart from being individually tiny, they also taper wider on top and get narrower as they reach the base.

After hollowing out the portion underneath the skull and adding a few more details, he starts sanding the skull: first with one of his diamond bits and then with sandpaper.

billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull

To give the skull a little more of an authentic look, Bobby etches some sutures across the frontal portion of the skull. “Sutures?” Yes, those joints where your bone dome slides together after birth to protect your brain.

billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull

Finally, he applies polish using a buffing wheel to make the whole thing look both menacing and freaking cool.

billiard ball skull
billiard ball skull

Here’s the video that shows the process from start to finish.

Mr. Bobby Duke’s YouTube channel, Bobby Duke Arts, combines his unique sense of humor with his love of making DIY art projects. If you want to see him talk to himself and inanimate objects while he makes art, be sure to check it out!

Author

Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.