12/18/2012 07:24 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How We Broke a World Record in Indiana

Deep in the heart of Hoosierland lives a man with a vocation spanning 45 years.

It all started with a happy mishap in 1964. Mike Carmichael and a buddy were tossing a baseball and it ended up in can of paint.

Then an inspiration, "What would this look like if I continued to coat the baseball, then cut the whole thing in half"

Encouragement was given by neighbors and kinfolk -- then they dissuaded him from splitting the coated sphere. Years passed and Mr. Carmichael was left with a massive orb hanging from a chain in a room of his house. Did his wife mind? Not a bit, Glenda has added over 8,000 layers herself.

Cross sections of the giant paint ball

After years of keeping his master work strictly among family and friends, the time had come to reveal it to the world. He decided to build a pavilion to showcase the ever-growing globe and the accolades soon followed.

Relocating the 3,000-pound work of art meant knocking out a wall of their home and utilizing a forklift for the jaunt to the more fitting domicile worthy of a masterpiece of this magnitude. In doing this, Mike proved the theory, "if you build it, they will come."

People have come from at least 25 countries to add another coat of paint and receive a certificate to commemorate the event. One layer even included a marriage proposal (she said yes!). The ball is featured in the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley's Believe It or Not, in addition to appearing on several television networks.

The Carmichaels have met gobs of celebrities who have made the pilgrimage to add yet another layer of pigment. David Letterman made arrangements for Mike to bring the ball to his late night show, but Mike declined, feeling that the orb must be seen in its proper setting. Besides, you never know what might happen to a ton and a half of dried paint turned loose in The Big Apple.

We knew that the 20,000th layer had been recently added and were eager to find out which layer would be ours.

The Ball of Paint is viewable by appointment only. We were pleased that Mike would see us on a Sunday with only a few hours notice.

Entering the Pavilion, we were struck by the enormity of the situation. The ball is suspended from an iron girder, and is so large that a large mirror is set on the ground below so you can see underneath as you roll on the paint

After viewing every angle, discussing every aspect and a quick tour of the Pavilion, Mike finally asked us the question we were aching to hear, "What color are you going to use?"

With a scan of the dozen or so vats of paint, we grabbed our rollers and lovingly added layer number 21,823.

After completing the task, and adding to the world's record, we contently began to walk away with our souvenir paint chip, certificate of Coat #21823 and commemorative t-shirt.

Just out the door, we asked Mike one more question, "What's your regular job?"

"I'm a painter."


Your turn: Would you travel to Indiana to break a world record?