For All My Dads

<i>sparkleballs by Carl</i>
sparkleballs by Carl

Sometimes we don’t get the dad we want.   We don’t get the man who teaches us how to drive a stick-shift or fix a leaky faucet.   How to negotiate a business deal or measure with calipers.  All those practical, cool things that make life more fun.   So throughout my life,  I’ve gathered helpful male friends who probably would hate being referred to as my “dads,”  but in so many ways, they are.

Here’s a big hug for my stepfather Bill.  Hugs and kisses to my surf grandfathers :) Bill Andrews and Inside Wave Dave.  The biggest hug to my husband Steve who lets me use his tool chest.

And a ton of gratitude to my sparkleball “dads.”  All the men who’ve shared ideas and photos with me, especially the Men of Yale Ave, Carl (The Master) Boro and Rob (Sparkleball Jones) Stephens.  You’ve all nudged me out of my comfort zone and into the garage of my dreams.


The Day Carl Changed My Life:

A Gift from Rob:

Pushing Boundaries


Paul Cocksedge / London

Two things I absolutely love about sparkleballs. . .   The infinite possibility within a limited set of elements.  (cups + lights)  And the mystery of who invented them.   So let’s address my two favorite things while admiring the lyrical beauty of Styrene by artist Paul Cocksedge.

Bubble Lamp

In 1973 Victor Papenek and James Hennessey published the classic Nomadic Furniture with instructions for “Bubble Lamp,” a light fixture made of styrofoam coffee cups.  Every crafty mom in the 70’s made a Bubble Lamp.   NYC Designer Jonathan Adler hangs his mom’s over the dining table today and credits its coolness as the inspiration behind his successful career.

Jonathon Adler / NYC
Jonathan Adler

Fast forward to 2002.  Paul Cocksedge melts polystyrene cups and creates “Styrene” as his graduation piece from the Royal College of Art, London.  Today you can find it for custom order on his studio website.  Price Upon Request.    (To make your own, check Youtube for one of many DIY vids, like this one by KrazyKred. )

Looking back, did Bubble Lamp spawn Sparkleball?  Possibly.  Looking forward, I can’t wait to see what comes next.  Thanks to people like Paul Cocksedge and Sparkleball Jones and Sabel and Carl Boro  and you :)





Electronic Motion Sparkleballs

Rob Stephens  (aka  Sparkleball Jones) supercharges his  sparkleballs with electronic whizbangery.  Each RGB LED light is programed individually, using a micro-controller for coded sequencing.  The result turns a basic sparkleball into a minilight aurora borealis.   At Maker Faire (Bay Area) this past weekend, Rob had thousands of visitors to his booth who were wowed by the light show.   Below, check out  Sparkleball Jones videos and videos of other electronic sparkleballs from the past.

Other fun Electronic Sparkleball Videos:
Allen Kitchen  (Houston TX)
Preston Holmes  (Santa Barbara CA)
Garrett Mace  (San Francisco CA)
Randy and Brandon Schimka (San Diego CA)


Super Bowl Sparkleball

I’m not a big football fan, but my friend Carol is, especially with this year’s Super Bowl happening in her backyard.  She felt like the perfect way to kick off the festivities was with a gold (official color of Super Bowl 50!)  sparkleball.   Carol opted to go the spray-paint route.  In 6 of the cups, she created little “windows” with painter’s tape (see below) so more light gets out and shows off the gold color at night.

How about a team ball?  Orange and navy for Broncos.  Black-blue-silver for Panthers.  Spray paint cups like Carol did and build the Original Sparkleball.  Or make a Hard Cup Sparkleball with color cups from Party City.  Or use different color mini lights (available on Amazon or at any number of Christmas lights outlets online.)  Hang it on the front porch, and everybody will know where the Super Bowl party is.  Then post and tag #sparkleball on  facebook, instagram or twitter :)

click photos for details