After Carl Boro saw a neighbor’s sparkleball, he went home and just figured out how to make one. With time he developed his own designs and methods, creating a garage full of colorful sparkleballs made from different cups and lights. He sent me some photos a few years ago, and we began a lively email exchange.
In 2015 I visited Carl at home near San Francisco. It’s no exaggeration to say that day changed my life. The fun we had exchanging ideas and working together cemented our friendship. It also pushed me to update and improve this website. I became more determined to share the mutual enthusiasm of friendship and craft with people like you, so that all of us around the world can work together — no matter what our beliefs or backgrounds– in a safe, creative virtual garage like Carl’s.
Below are just a few of Carl’s creations, as well as links to posts about him. Leave a comment and Carl will answer. To see over 90 photos of Carl’s wondrous work, visit Pinterest.
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.
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.