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The Bowling Ball House

After driving through Clearwater in the bumper-to-bumper rat race of Highway 19 I took a side trip and found a pleasant refuge in Safety Harbor. This is one of those rare places around the Tampa triangle that has retained its charm and friendly nature. Safety Harbor’s main street is lined with quaint shops, art galleries and pleasant eateries like the one I stopped at called the Green Springs Café. It was here that I was told that I needed to see the Bowling Ball house on Third Street. The Bowling Ball house? I expected a house made out of bowling balls, but what I found was a colorful fairytale cottage. It even has a name, “Whimsy.”

This gingerbread-like cottage is the home and studio of two well-established artists, Todd Ramquist and Kiarlinda. She only uses a single name, the same one that appears on her work which is exhibited all over the country and around the world. The two artists have spent nearly twenty years creating their folk art property using mirror fragments, bottles, beads, acrylic plastics, tiles, glass, and five hundred or so bowling balls painted a rainbow of colors.

The yard is lined with bowling balls, some are stacked like minarets and there’s a large colorful pyramid of them in the middle of the yard. There’s hardly an inch of this fairyland property that has not felt the artists’ touch. The place is like an open air folk art gallery with bottle trees sprouting cobalt blue bottles to dangling mirrors to a gaily painted lizard on the wall.

Since old bowling balls have played a big role in his art, Todd Ramquist has produced a photographic book titled “On the Ball” featuring 80 bowling balls artistically designed by various artists.

Safety Harbor’s Bowling Ball house has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is featured in the town’s annual Holiday Homes Tour. To celebrate the new millennium in 2000 the house was covered in Mylar and invited guests all wore crazy spectacles. You’ll have no problem finding this place, just ask anyone in Safety Harbor. It’s the best known house in town even though there are some historic homes, but those don’t have that colorful wild and enchanted look.

Weird Florida

 

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