Working with Styrofoam and non-Solo cups


sparkleball by Dustin on INSTRUCTABLES

Only the U.S. has Solo plastic cups, so the rest of the world has to work with other shapes and sizes.  It takes a lot more non-solo cups to form a sphere, even when you’re building with smaller cups. It’s also harder to get these “any cup” balls nice and round.  Our Any Cup How-to shows one way to do it.  But you can find some pretty cool sparkle ball videos on youtube from other countries. I highly recommend the video below by Italian Walter Calabrese.  I tried his method. and it works really well.  (See result here.)   When I finally make a styrofoam  “bubble lamp,” this is the method I’ll use except with hotglue. 

note:  blue and white sparkleball above by Walter Calabrese.


Walter Calabrese, Italy (English version) /youtube      (Italian version here

DIYCORE, Brazil (sparkleball starts at 6:53)/youtube


Jérémy Prince, France/youtube




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 :)