A few days ago, I dropped an old Hard-Cup Sparkleball I love. Five cups shattered, and there’s no way to repair it.That’s the thing about hard cups. They’re really sparkly, but they crack. Two other important points: you can’t staple them and they are a slightly different size than solo-style cups. BUT they come in more colors!
Here are the instructions for making a Hard Cup Sparkleball. I used to use a soldering iron to melt the cups together, but now I use hot glue. (Master Sparkleballer Carl Boro uses silicon caulk.) From the instructions you’ll learn that there’s a different formula in how you put the Hard Cup Sparkleball together. This is very important. If you try to make it like an Original Sparkleball, it won’t work. You’ll need more cups too.
photos below by Carl Boro, who loves making hard-cup sparkleballs.
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.
7 oz plastic cup
5 cups = pentagon
7 cups = hexagon
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.
how you begin
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.
support from bottom
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.”)
Sparkleballs are all about cups. So let’s shake things up a little and put cups inside, on top of, between, and over the cups. Add a second set of cups, and you’ll totally change the lighting and the overall look of the ball. Using hard plastic cups like shotglasses, you can solder holes in them for the lights, then hotglue them into the solo-style cups. Or turn them upside down and glue them over the lights. Soft cups can be treated the same way and even stapled inside Solo cups. I love Sabel’s “Sporeball,” where tube shots are inserted between the main cups. Here are some ideas to spur your creativity, but, really, the deal is, just go for it :)