Never the twine shall meetWorld's Largest Balls of Twine, Cawker City, KS and Darwin, MN

World's Largest Ball of Twine sketches by Chandler O'Leary

The Tailor and I have been having the same argument for years now. It’s really one of those fundamental debates in life, revolving around the universe’s most pressing question:

Which Giant Twine Ball is better?

World's Largest Ball of Twine sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Now I’m going to tell you up front: Kansas is the Tailor’s home state. So I think it’s bias talking when he tells you (and anyone who’ll listen) that the World’s Largest Twine Ball in Cawker City reigns supreme.

World's Largest Ball of Twine sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Okay, okay, I’ll grant that it’s the actual World’s Largest. It’s over 40 feet in diameter, and made up of nearly 8 million feet of twine. Impressive, yes. But here’s the thing: this monster was a community effort. Every year they hold a “Twine-a-thon” and add more string to the beast. I don’t know why, but much as I applaud the community spirit, somehow that feels like cheating to me.

World's Largest Ball of Twine (by One Man) sketch by Chandler O'Leary

By comparison, the 12-foot Twine Ball in Darwin, Minnesota seems kinda puny, I know. But at 17,400 pounds, it’s no lightweight. And more importantly, this one was made entirely by one man: Mr. Francis A. Johnson, who wrapped twine four hours a day, every day, for 29 years.

When was the last time you devoted your life to creating a roadside masterpiece? Not even Pee Wee Herman’s rubber-band ball has that kind of single-mindedness, my friends. And—and! Frank’s creation is the subject of a Weird Al song—which, as far as I’m concerned, is the final word on the subject.

World's Largest Ball of Twine (by One Man) sketch by Chandler O'Leary

I think we need to settle this once and for all. That’s right, it’s time for a Twine Ball Smackdown. Maybe a twine tug o’ war would be the most appropriate venue to solve this, but I only have pencils and pixels at my disposal here. So in the spirit of democracy, I’m putting this up for a vote.

Here’s where you come in: leave a comment stating your favorite Twine Ball—or if social media is your thing, you can vote by Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest. And help spread the word! We want a mandate on this thing, folks—let’s get out the vote, and give either Mr. Johnson or the good folks of Cawker City a decisive victory.

Cast your vote in by Wednesday, October 8, and I’ll declare a winner on the Facebook page on Thursday. Hurry—twine’s a-wasting!

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Comments (11)

  1. Tina Koyama

    Just this morning, a friend and I went to the Tacoma library to see your fabulous exhibit of roadside sketches! Even as I was seeing the balls of twine (before I came home and read this post), I was saying to myself. . . 29 years?? I don’t care how big that ball is — that’s way more impressive than a community effort. So Mr. Johnson definitely gets my vote. By the way, the shivering spouse does get brownie points — I saw him acting as scale in a number of sketches. My spouse has done this for me a few times too, but I’m sure it’s a dull job, so your man gets kudos. Terrific exhibit! Loved each sketch! And did I read that you use the POCKET-size Moleskine?? I had always envisioned the larger size one when looking at your blog — but obviously, your sketches are larger than life.

    – Tina

  2. Leslie Montgomery

    Mr. Johnson’s commitment to that big ball o twine makes it the winner for me! Sorry to the Tailor.

Comments are closed.