Yes and no. Yes, if the hotglue is so hot it literally melts the cups to each other. This works best on hard plastic cups. But no, hotglue isn’t great for putting Solo cups together in a sparkleball. The cups just resist the glue. (There are chemical reasons for this.) Carl Boro uses silicon caulk on his hard cup sparkleballs. I’ve used superTAC500, a special hotglue made for plastic, to customize and decorate sparkleballs. Otherwise, I stick to my stapler and gripperclips. If you are a dedicated hotgluer of sparkleballs, please let us know. I love to be proven wrong.
Tis the sparkleball season! Time to get stapling! There are lots of videos on youtube to show you how to build an original sparkleball. But they don’t always show you the best way or the tricks of the trade. That’s why it’s nice to have some step-by-step instructions with a few shortcuts and some technique thrown in. If you’re a perfectionist (like a few people I know), there are some tricks to getting your sparkleball really round. These tips of Carl’s may sound geeky, but they’re simple, and they work.
DON’T OVER STAPLE
Use only 1 or 2 staples per cup. This keeps the ball flexible and stretchy as you assemble it. When you’re done and like the shape, you can add more staples.
STAPLE DEEP IN THE CUPS Don’t know why but this makes a difference.
HOW TOSTAPLE – 1
As you join cups, make sure one rim tucks under the other, and the rims touch. Doesn’t matter who’s on top, but the cups should nestle neatly.
HOW TOSTAPLE – 2
When you fit the 9-cup ring on the 12-cup ring, first staple at 4 “compass” points. When those 4 Cups are anchored finish stapling the rest of the cups to the 12-cup ring. Really important to get the right shape.
As you settle one ring on top of the other, you’ll see some cups sit between two cups (valley) and some sit on top of a cup. Wherever they sit, staple.
There will be some gaps. Don’t force cups together. Instead, reinforce where cups do touch with a few extra staples when you’re finished.
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.”)
I have a sparkleball situation coming up where there won’t be an outlet. Battery-powered lights were the obvious solution, but how good are they? Pretty great, according to the comments I read on Amazon for Vmanoo string lights. Folks rave about how long the batteries last. The lights are on a timer, and several commenters write that one set of D batteries (3) went the entire holiday season. I’m sold. I’ll report back when I see how much juice my battery-powered sparkleball has. (see below)
The lights I got– 100 multi “dancing” — are pretty darn bright. (see video below) There are a few drawbacks. One, the battery box is cumbersome and heavy, so you’ll have to find a place for it if you hang the sparkleball. Two, these are not recommended for bad weather. But that’s no problem if you just put your sparkleball out when you want it! How great would these be for a wedding in Vmanoo’s clear white battery lights? Next, rechargeable batteries :)
UPDATE: These battery lights are terrific. I can’t believe how long the batteries have lasted, and they’re super bright. Can recommend Vmanoo absolutely– and I’m sure there are other makers.