When I was little, I remember seeing large bowls filled with decoratively painted balls in my grandmother’s house. They were beautiful and came in several patterns–stripes, plaids, and florals. I loved looking at them. I’d never seen anything else like them.
Recently, I found out that they were called carpet bowls (or carpet balls). Carpet bowls is the indoor version of the outdoor English game, bowls, and it was often played in country houses. Bowls became popular to collect because of their designs, and in the 1990s decorative reproductions were made. Colefax & Fowler was the sole distributor in the UK, and my grandmother was the sole distributor in the US. They are made of fired clay and covered in porcelain, upon which designs were painted or sponged on. They are several different patterns–stripes, plaids, florals, and the traditional sponge pattern.
After discovering what, precisely, they were, I’ve started thinking about collecting them myself. They are beautiful and I think it would be a nice tribute to my grandmother. I’ve found some decorative ones on eBay and on Etsy, and I’ve seen a few in local antiques shops. I’m on the hunt!
If you’d like to learn more about carpet bowls, this article and this article are great sources. The rules of carpet bowls can be found here.