The Tom Method

Back in 2009 a sparkleball maker named Tom sent me his unique instructions for making a sparkleball.   His method uses only 48 cups and works like this:

When finished, Tom’s Sparkleball and the Original Sparkleball look pretty much the same, so what’s the point?   The point is. . . fun.  I’ve been documenting this craft for 11 years, and I’m still surprised by the possibilities people find in a bunch of plastic cups and mini-lights.  For all I know, Tom’s method may be more geometrical or stronger or rounder or better.   By using 2 cups less, it’s certainly more economical :)

Thank you, Tom, wherever you are.



But are they Sparkleballs?

I’ve seen a bunch of pseudo-sparkleballs in my time, and some are pretty wonderful.  Manufactured sparkleballs are really just round light fixtures, and none of them have that  je ne sais quoi  of  a real one. They don’t have the Original Sparkleball‘s  50 little reflective chambers, nor its inimitable sparkle and glow.   The deal is, sparkleballs are handmade.  If you want one you’ll have to make it.  Or find someone to make it for you.  

Fake Sparkleball
I spotted this one in Palm Springs last week. It was pretty glamorous. (Moori, $300)


Why Sparkleballs Matter

display by Wayne and Paula Cunningham (Lakeland FL)
Mihai and Lucas (Amsterdam)

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.


Gender and Sparkleballs

Sparkleball made by one of Joni’s students

Many years ago my website had a stats page that showed the gender of visitors.  That sounded kind of bogus to me then, that the algorithms were that smart , but the stats were intriguing.  Readership was exactly 50/50 male and female.   Then Joni wrote.  She was an arts teacher in Scotland who used sparkleballs as a craft in her classes for at-risk teenage boys.  It was their favorite craft activity, she said, and coming up with crafts the boys liked hadn’t been easy.   So her boys liked a craft that was equally popular with girls!  Of course, today anyone can do anything.  Men crochet.  Women weld.   And there are 56 different genders on Facebook.  But I like equality, and equality is what 50/50 means to me.  Welcome all.