What better way to show you like the sport than to dangle it from your ears?
4 pre-1983 pennies
8 standard paper clips
2 more paper clips or a set of earring hooks
1-4 nails or screws
A few inches of pre-tinned wire
Clear nail polish (recommended)
Power Drill or Dremel
Sandpaper (I used 60, 120, 220 and 400 grit)
Some piece of flat metal (I used an old bracket piece)
Some piece of domed metal (I used carriage bolts)
Helping hands/3rd hand/something to hold parts while you solder
Simple power tools
Some bending skills
Step 1: Get the Design
Find a simple basketball picture that you like, and print it so that it matches the size of a penny. Side angle views make it look a bit more like a basketball.
Bring the picture into Microsoft Word and size it. I printed off a few sizes at once, then used the one that ended up closest to what I needed.
Step 2: Make the "Stencils"
Bend the paper clips to match the lines of your printed basketball. It helps to mark the clips with a sharpie where they will intersect the edge of the penny. I also put a number of stripes on each clip that corresponded to the location they would be on the ball.
You can do one feature on each end of the paper clip to use fewer of them.
Step 3: Smush Your Work
Grab your 4 pre-1983 pennies. These older ones have a much higher copper content than the new zinc-copper ones. If you look in your peanut butter jar full of coins (everyone has that right?) just grab a few of the darker pennies and you should find some.
One at a time, line up the paper clips on a penny and hit them with a hammer to make an intent into the copper. It works best to tape the clips in place with some clear tape so it doesn't move as you hit it. I also put a flat piece of metal between the hammer and the penny so it wouldn't deform from the impacts. Repeat for each seam.
Make sure that the seams are about as deep as you can get them, if they're too shallow sanding will make them disappear. I kept hitting until the paper clip was flush with the face of the penny and the seams slightly showed up on the reverse side. After this step it should start looking like a basketball.
Step 4: Chrome (or Copper) Dome
Dome each penny by striking it into a scrap piece of wood with the smoothed head of a carriage bolt (or other domed metal object). You want the basketball side to be domed outwards.
Solder a nail or screw to the back of the penny to mount it into a drill chuck. You can do it with just one nail, I did each on a separate screw so that I could do the next steps all at once.
Step 5: Polish, Not the Poland Kind
Insert into a drill or dremel chuck with the soldered nail. Spin and sand down using finer and finer grits of sandpaper to remove the penny features and shine it up. I started with 60 grit, then 120, and 220. This can send metal dust into the air so be sure to protect yourself from that. Draw over the lines with a sharpie, then sand again to remove the excess. I used 220 again then a 400 for a nice polish.
Step 6: Undo Your Past Work
Remove from the drill chuck and de-solder the nail. If you're using just one nail or screw, repeat steps 2-5 until you have 2 prepped pennies.
Step 7: Put a Ring on It
Once you've got 2 pennies made into basketballs, take a few inches of pre-tinned wire and curl it into a circle the size of your basketball's rim, it helps to wrap it around something like a socket. Add a loop on the top for the earring hook.
Sandwich this between the two pennies and solder together. This finishes the earring, you can either get some hooks from the store to add or make your own out of a spare paper clip.
Step 8: Finishing Up
Adding a clear coat will protect the earrings from the 3 d's- dents, dings and darkening over time. I put a layer of clear nail polish over them, I knew i kept that stuff around for something.
I was in a bit of a rush just before gifting it so make a simple box from cardboard and duct tape filled with pillow stuffing fluff, and the earrings on a smaller piece of cardboard resting on the fluff. You could definitely present them in a fancier way.
That's it! Give them to someone special who likes basketball or wear 'em proudly!