If you want to build a BIG sparkleball, I’ve got the video for you. This is the first any-cup sparkleball I’ve made that is perfectly round. I mean, perfectly round. The trick in Walter Calabrese’s video is — stay with me— that first you build 15 hexagons and 12 pentagons. Hexagons are made of 6 cups attached around a 7th. Pentagons are 5 cups stapled in the exact way below.
Then you fit them together in a certain way. Walter’s video shows you how. My recommendation is to make all the hexagons and pentagons first. Then attach them to each other with paperclips or clothespins, before you staple the entire ball. You start with a hexagram. Then you add 5 pentagrams to each side of it. Then hexagrams. Then pentagrams. Don’t freak. Walter’s video is pretty clear.
Be careful as you staple. Not too deep, about 1/4″ – 1/2″ from the rim. Also, do follow Walter’s instructions to mark pentagons as you add them, or you’ll get lost. I painted them, but you can mark them as he did or any other way. This helps you keep the pattern straight as you build.
For the lighting, I inserted a lamp socket into a champagne flute so it would sit in the bottom of the ball, because I wanted the cord at the bottom not the top. There are many other ways to do the lighting, including Walter’s. I also used a bracket under the ball for support and ran a single wire up through the ball to the top.
I highly recommend Walter’s method. It should work with any cup of any size if it’s similar in shape to the one above. I’m happy to answer any questions. Be patient, and have fun! (Oh, and the official name of the structure/shape is a “truncated icosahedron.”)
Sparkleball friend Carl Boro has astonished me again. He built this full blue sparkleball — blue cups and blue lights– with blue bobby pins! Carl discovered that long bobby pins are perfect for connecting the 9 oz hard plastic cups. (Not Solo-style soft cups. They have a raised lip.) I did a quick google search and found Durahome, EDI, and Party Essential hard cups on Amazon. My local grocery sometimes has them, and so does Party City. If you build one, make sure you check out the Hard Cup instruction page. The Hard Cup formula is different than the Original Sparkleball.
Carl says you’ll need about 126 bobby pins. Not a big investment. He also said that the clips slipped a little when he put the lights in, but once that was done, he just straightened the ball out.
Only the U.S. has Solo plastic cups, so the rest of the world has to work with other shapes and sizes. It takes a lot more non-solo cups to form a sphere, even when you’re building with smaller cups. It’s also harder to get these “any cup” balls nice and round. Our Any Cup How-to shows one way to do it. But you can find some pretty cool sparkle ball videos on youtube from other countries. I highly recommend the video below by Italian Walter Calabrese. I tried his method. and it works really well. (See result here.) When I finally make a styrofoam “bubble lamp,” this is the method I’ll use except with hotglue.
note: blue and white sparkleball above by Walter Calabrese.
Last month at New York Maker’s Faire, Rob Stephens displayed his popular programmable RGB/LED sparkleballs, pixelballs. But the surprise hit was his sparkleball hat. So many people asked to try it on, that Rob had to take photos. Mark Mathias was there and with Rob’s help, carried the idea to his church’s youth group, who made pixel and battery-pack sparkleball hats for Halloween.
Check out Rob’s website and his photo collection of “Sparkle Heads.” Rob’s also working on easy instructions for programmable LED sparkleballs.