In an email from Amsterdam, Sandra dos Santos sent these words: May sparkleballs continue to bring light to the darkness. That’s exactly why I love this craft. In a world which seems to be growing in darkness and division, how dear it feels to hand-make a small sphere of light. How sweet to see sparkleballs around the world in Egypt and Amsterdam and Florida made for no other reason than joy. Merry Sparkleballs to one and all.
The easiest mini-sparkleball to make is with 4 oz “souffle cups.” These pudding cups are close in proportion to 9 oz solo-style cups, just smaller, so the same 12-9-4 formula works. I learned this trick from Randy and Brandon Schimka, the father and son team who produce Belardo Lights, one of San Diego’s most popular front-yard electronic light and music holiday displays. The Schimkas, including granddad Joe, work all year planning and building for opening night Saturday after Thanksgiving. On the Schimka’s website, you’ll find the inspiring story behind Belardo Lights and many how-to’s for their custom-made display items and electrical systems, including their souffle cup mini-sparkleballs. (See our page on mini’s for other ways to make them.)
See the Schimka’s light show at 5306 Belardo Dr, San Diego CA, 28 Nov – 27 Dec . Great video of the entire display with mini-sparkleballs
Last Christmas when Misty Cheesman started making sparkleballs, neighbors joined in to make and hang them, too. Friends came by for lessons. Custom orders snowballed, and suddenly Misty was in the sparkleball business.
This year Misty is making sparkleballs to sell at craft markets and from home. It’s not easy work. Each sparkleball is melted together, since 9 oz cups in Australia are hard plastic. Misty must work outside and in a heavy mask because of the fumes. (It’s summer and HOT in Australia right now.) Each sparkle ball is threaded with 200 lights, twice the norm.
The joy of her customers keeps her going, Misty says. A good sense of humor also must help. The business was originally called Nice Balls, but sister Denise convinced her to go with the classier Oz Sparkle Balls.
Visit Oz Sparkle Balls on Facebook. The photos and videos are terrific, and Misty’s posts are great fun. If you’re in Sydney, it’s sparkle time! PM Misty to buy some nice balls. :)
It’s time! Let’s kick off the 2015 Holiday Prep Season with Amber Merefield’s Sparkleball Tree. Here’s how she does it: for each ball, Amber makes a hanger out of two lengths of chain, s-hooks, zipties, and a swivel snap hook. Outside, she uses a combo of ladder and tree-climbing (“like Tarzan”) in the 20-30ft dogwood tree, which is wrapped in white lights. Each sparkleball is hung with several releasable zip-ties. The zip-ties aren’t tightened completely to give the sparkleballs play in the wind. Once sparkle balls are in place, Amber runs the electricity, using custom-length extension cords made of SPT-2 wire and vampire plugs. A custom “wire harness” at the base of the tree sends a separate cord and plug to each ball. We love the effect of sweeping white tree and red balls, but Amber says she has plans to add green and blue balls this year.