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Making Rolley Hole marbles this year

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For a marble related update, I did sort some marbles and pull out some that I should list online. Seems I’m not doing a good job at it since all I want to let go are what most would consider rejects or marbles that shouldn’t be made. Seems I keep measuring and inspecting marbles and then deciding to keep hanging onto a ton “in case I need them”. 

These are the only ones I’ve picked out. My way of looking at it is my price is the price someone pays to save the cost of traveling to Rolley Hole. At the end of the day the best way to get a marble is to come on down to Rolley Hole and get the full experience. 



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Did a little cube cutting today. I was hoping to show my sister some marble making and such but didn’t get around to it. 

Mostly I cut some cubes and tried to work on some spheres, with one sphere exploding. I made a black sphere and started on a pink one which is super hard material. Seems more and more like I need to order another Diamond wheel. 

I have a job interview coming up for Henry Horton State park on April 11th. I don’t know much about the park yet but if I’m driving across the state, I’m picking up rocks. I’ve tried (and failed) to make a marble for every park I’ve interviewed for. Sometimes the interview is not on park, other times the geology just doesn’t work out. I must admit I’m more interested in a park when they’ve got some nice rocks or a lake that might hold some nice rocks. 

If I don’t get a full time job I already have a park I'm supposed to go to. I’ve been debating on bringing a marble making rig and a saw, but that may be a bit much. So there may be a several month pause on making marbles. 

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Forgot my photos! I have a new bin I keep cubes in though I may go back to the tool box I was using. Top drawer is the “top shelf” material though most of it isn’t really all that good. Other drawers are pieces I can’t seem to part with nor bother trying out. 

also pictured is my saw getting sprayed with WD40. When I am done cutting, I drain the saw and allow the blade to spin while holding a rag to it. When it’s dry I run it while spraying it with WD40. Lapidary people online don’t like this for a few reasons, mostly that the cooling fluid is water with a little dish soap. 






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I listed a bunch of marbles on Etsy to see what would happen. Pricing is something I’d say I’m a bit high on, though it’s been very very hard to judge. The colored marbles (orange and brown especially) have sold well in the past.

Someone bought one and told me about how their family was from that area and played marbles (the buyer moved a good ways away). The marble they got was their one piece of Overton County and was quite special to them. 

Anyways the white marbles which are the traditional ones get very little attention. I guess it comes down to aesthetics. People ordering or even just looking like the more unique marbles. 

Also, here’s the piece of “Tennessee agate” or more likely chert that I clear coated today. Some friends of mine are obsessed with it. Now it’s been rejected by rock forums as “agate” however there’s some interesting things going on in it. Around the geode pits there is banding which is why the original thought was “agate”. What likely happened it the nodule formed and the holes were later filled in a little at a time with hot mineral-rich water which formed these layers and crystals. Who knows, I’m not a geologist. 




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1 hour ago, RolleyHoleMan said:

I guess it comes down to aesthetics. People ordering or even just looking like the more unique marbles.

Unique would definitely be a driving factor for me. Will have to see if I can find your Etsy store!

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22 hours ago, Caterpillar said:

Unique would definitely be a driving factor for me. Will have to see if I can find your Etsy store!


Here is the link to my shop on Etsy. I must admit I’m not the biggest fan of Etsy since it’s a bit new for me, though I have gotten more sales and views than eBay. Originally I was listing on eBay and Etsy at the same time, and would always have more spam and such on eBay. 

I would say the annoying thing with eBay is the offer system. I often receive really low offers on there. I can also send offers to watchers and those usually go unanswered even at a large discount. There’s been times where I’ve wondered if someone would buy a marble at half price, which they don’t. I have various items that have been listed for years at this point with watchers, often the items are incredibly rare. 

Locally I’m known to be like the “American pickers” in the eyes of the old folks. But I just like junk and old stuff. 

Anyways on Etsy vs eBay there’s one difference that gives Etsy an edge. People on there ask good and genuine questions that show a great interest in Rolley Hole, marble making, and the general area. On eBay there just hasn’t been those types of interactions and the interactions I’ve had are odd. People request marbles to order which is fine, but none of them will understand that material (like the butterscotch) is hard to find and when they can’t have one of those marbles, they lose interest. 

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42 minutes ago, RolleyHoleMan said:

People request marbles to order...

That's exactly what I'd do. I'd like to think my requests would be reasonable enough.

Thanks for the link to your store!

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10 minutes ago, Caterpillar said:

That's exactly what I'd do. I'd like to think my requests would be reasonable enough.

Thanks for the link to your store!

All comes down to your requirements for a marble. If you’re looking for anything in particular I’ll see what I can do. For the time being it comes down to material and what I can find and what turns out suitable.


The locals give me a hard time for not saying where particular material came from, but it all boils down to me really not knowing. 

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Here’s the marbles from this morning. The pinkish one is going to be a challenge since it has a fault or some weird line running through it, and the marble chips along that line.


The yellow marble is one I made from a cube I had trimmed up using my saw. When you can manage to cut a cube right, the time it takes to make a rough sphere can be less than 20 minutes. 






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Spun some of the marbles today and worked on some that have been in progress for a good while. What my method is now is on Friday and Saturday I’ll make a bunch of spheres, then before work Monday-Thursday I’ll work on one particular marble. That does cause some like the large creamy marble to be set aside. 

I did some rock hunting today in one of those delightful Tennessee streams that has a bunch of signs saying the fish will give you Cancer. The area I’m in was home to the Manhattan project and well, let’s just say there’s a lot of what the locals call “nasties” buried out here. 

I also checked in some local fancy neighborhoods under development. Since I drive an old car and typically have a rough appearance people do keep an eye on me, especially in these fancy neighborhoods filled with people who moved here from other states. Nothing soothes a concerned Floridian like a man in all green, thick Appalachian dialect (if anyone is into accents there’s some good videos on all that, and they make some of my weird ramblings make some sense). 

Anyways going to all these places I decided to call it quits on the local rocks. Hours of searching and studying maps really shows the area just isn’t a bit of good. 

Lastly I hit an estate sale that was supposed to have some marbles according to the photos. Seems someone bought them all so there may be some marble fans hiding out around these parts. Glass marbles are something the locals do buy up regardless of what they are. Same goes for pocket watches for example. I’ve watched many of men grab watches at sales that I’ve diagnosed and they don’t care. Watch is a watch and marble is a marble to these folks. 





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Been a little busy so my marble time has been limited. I’m getting back into it between job interviews and projects. 

Lately I’ve been busy digitizing old photo negatives and photos which was what I did at standing stone. Long story short, I found the same model high end photo and negative scanner at a thrift shop for $6.99 vs the $300 it usually costs, so I’ve been playing with that. I moved the scanner to my workplace yesterday to have something to do there, and to have only one hobby (marbles) going at home. 

The downside to having the power to digitize negatives is there’s never enough negatives. It’s time consuming but I guess like Rolley Hole you can never have enough. 

Anyways here’s some marbles. I got them much more shaped up and rounded. A couple have some real troubling flat spots which are unfortunate. A marble will only be as big as the lowest point, and a good .80 marble can quickly become a .75 trying to make it right. 





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Finished the “Tennessee agate” marble and well, sure looks like a few marbles I made a while back. Those were fine marbles, but I’d have to admit this one is chert like I was told. 

For whatever reason it’s a very difficult marble to polish. It has a tiny bit of haze so it’ll get some more spinning but it’ll probably need an alternative method. 







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The Tennessee agate marble has sold. There’s something about that colorful material haha. 

Tomorrow I plan to go to Standing Stone and hit the marble yard. I grabbed maybe 20ish marbles. Most of the marbles are from a big piece that I was told was no good, so me being me I kept on with it and made a big ole bunch of clear marbles. Most are kept gritty for some good control and hard shots. 

Going to a marble yard is a great way to get a piece of humble pie. Most likely I will be best to a pulp and made fun of, but it’s always in good fun. 

Here’s a photo of many of the clear marbles. If anyone wants to play they’ll probably have to be marked with a marker to really keep up with them. 



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Here are some photos from the Rolley Hole museum in Celina. I was up there at a little restaurant and figured we might as well drive the courthouse. All the doors were wide open with no one around, and the door to the Rolley Hole section was open. 

Probably wasn’t supposed to be in there but oh well. BBF1040B-593E-4F49-B7A0-7D0C8B3EDAB9.thumb.jpeg.8bf0412271aef46adcbacf57b7b7ef5b.jpeg

This is the courthouse in the square of Celina, Tennessee where the marble museum is held. They did just get a bunch of funding and man, the building needs it. It’s a standard old town worn courthouse that has that feel of history. DE68815A-2FD9-48BE-B365-D12B2305BBBB.thumb.jpeg.9d5e34f707e1297ba350ae5b70b58f0b.jpeg

Heres a big photo of Bud over a table of marble making supplies. The case features many marbles of many materials, and there’s a ton of rock scraps and a small nodule for display. 

This is the rubber wheel on the grinder. Note the grooves cut into it to “bounce” and grip the marble. This is something I need to do to my wheel. One thing to note is this is a very large wheel, which appears to be to a longboard skateboard. 


Here is a trophy and some marbles from the late Russell Collins who recently passed away. No one was there to tell us what was what, but the small glass marble appears to be a marble for British marble, probably from when the team went over there and smashed the British. CA25358B-C455-43F3-97E7-A7F36FC49974.thumb.jpeg.8540a25384c829e12dd3e54166f3dea2.jpeg

Heres a rough platinum record from the Kentucky Headhunters song “Dumus Walkers” 



A display of marbles. I would guess that due to the speckled marble that these are from Mr.Carr. He gives marbles away and also gives them to the kids marble club so they can sell them in order to fund their trip to New Jersey. 


Some of the marbles for sale. 



These are marbles used by champions in winning games of Rolley Hole. It was really cool to see the marbles played with by people I know, and some before my time. Sure wish it was possible to measure them. 


This is a book I was given today by Bobby Fulchers son. 


This is a marble made by Dumus Walker shown to me by one of the staff at the park. He’s pointing at a location where there was a sand pit he had someone remove, and then the marble was spun down. Not something I would have done. The marble now measures .74. 

I was able to show my marbles to some of the makers and players today and everyone is very very happy with how they look. More than anything they really liked the rough finish and talked about slick marbles causing many failed shots. Mr.Carr likes to give polished and that’s what’s for sale in the park gift shop. These are mostly for the tourists. 

One main takeaway from the marbles on display is they look like I made them, so it seems I’m doing alright. The material from this area is very distinct and it’s easy to tell when material comes from elsewhere. 

We also talked in great length about the struggle of demonstrating marble making to the general public. Interest is very low and the noise causes all marble demonstrations to quickly be shut down, moved, or both. My parents chimed in with how annoying and loud my machine is so tomorrow I’m off to Lowe’s to pick up some oil impregnated bronze bushings for the grinder. Standard bushings haven’t lasted me all that long. 





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This is a link to their Facebook page where they post updates and general stuff going on there. They also cross post stuff from the other marbles groups in the area. It’s the best way to keep with the marble news. 

Right now everything is in the beginning stages. They have funding on the way from different grants and the Tennessee Arts Commission. 

Rolley Hole also received an award from the governor recently so it’s getting more recognition overall. This is the first time an event and not a person got an award. Many marble players were at the governors mansion for the award ceremony. 

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Using the Rolley Hole museum setup as reference, I took out a Dremel tool and cut some notches into my rubber wheel. Surprisingly it really did help and it seems it not only cuts faster, but allows the marble to be grabbed and spin more in every direction. I finished a pretty cool “pink” marble from material found in the Tennessee River. 

I installed new bushings in my grinder again and got it to chatter quite a bit less. Lowe’s advertised the bushings as oil impregnated but I don’t know, they didn’t seem to be greasy like they should have. I still drilled a hole in both of them to allow the oil wells on the grinder to work. 

With making marbles you’re fighting the grit from the cups and the stone grit from the marbles, so things wear out faster. One of the reasons we use belt drive gear is we put a ton of hours on equipment and it’s easier to repair grinders and replace motors instead of killing these new bench grinders that are $100 or more. 






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