Here are two suggestions to make it easier and more attractive when you hang your sparkleball.
1. Hide The Plug A small tweak that makes a big difference, especially when your mini-lights have short leader wires. Plug sparkleball into an extension cord, then push all the plugs back inside the ball, through gap between cups. Re-staple cups if necessary. Only the extension cord wire is left. Much neater!
2. Make Your Own Extension Cord Action Lighting sells these wonderful gadgets called “vampire plugs.” They’re male and female parts which slide and lock onto lamp wire with little teeth, hence the nickname. Vampire plugs are great for customizing cords of any length. I like making short ones to connect balls to each other. You can also create a long cord with a series of female plugs at intervals, to hang a row of sparkleballs with less cord mess. Plugs sold here. Good instructions here. (click photos for more information.)
Nobody pays me to promote the Arrow P22. I’ve tried other plier staplers, but the P22 is my personal favorite for building sparkleballs. It staples plastic cups like butter. Well, almost. Sometimes it needs a little oil. Sometimes a staple jams. It’s a tad clunky. But we’re old friends, and nothing does the job better.
Today I learned that the P22 is made in the USA. Hooray! And that Arrow was founded by Morris Abrams, the inventor of the staple gun and clearly a man with an overall special talent for staplers. Mr Abrams was born in New York City in 1908, the son of Romanian immigrants. I like that my stapler has an authentic American story. Just like sparkleballs :)
The Arrow P22™ will run you $15ish, with a box of staples adding another 2.50 or so. Once you have it, you’ll find it’s good for stapling all kinds of things. Look for it at Ace Hardware, on Amazon, in places like Home Depot, and maybe at craft stores. Don’t forget to buy Arrow P22 staples.
Solar mini-lights are way improved, in function and price. The solar sparkleballs I made in years past were dismal. But now– solar is totally sparkly. Which means you can hang a sparkleball anywhere, as long as it can charge in direct sunlight. The little solar panel sits atop or hangs below. These lights come from Amazon, and so far, they’re pretty great even if they didn’t come with instructions. (Amazon has quite a selection of solar.) This may be my new sparkleball favorite :)
I’ve given Carl Boro a lot of credit on this site, and no wonder. If anyone knows about building sparkleballs, it’s Carl. Probably his very best tip is the 1/2″ step drill bit. Carl uses the bit in a drill press. (video here) I use mine in a hand drill. The bit costs about $14, but it makes absolutely perfect holes. Lights slip in, and they stay put. You can drill up to 4 soft cups at a time. And I’ve stuffed as many as 4 lights in a single hole, although 2-3 works best.
A regular 1/2″ drill bit works just fine if it’s sharp enough. Use a knife and cut x’s in the cup bottoms. Or a soldering iron to melt holes. Any hole is better than no hole! So just do it. . .like the man in Canada who put holes in his cups with a screwdriver he heated up on the stove top :) A sparkleball is very forgiving.