What is a Sparkleball?

short answer: light ball made with string lights and plastic cups.

long answer:  The Original Sparkleball is made with Solo® 9 oz cups joined together by staples, clips, glue or soldering. 100 mini-lights are threaded into the ball, two lights to a cup.  Different cups and lights can be used.   However, all sparkleballs are built by people.  Nothing commercial has ever fully replicated the magic of a lighted sparkleball.

Sparkleballs started popping up around the US in the 1970s.  No one knows who invented it or where the first one was made, but the craft has now spread around the world.  In Italy sparkleball snowmen are popular. In Fullerton, California, one neighborhood hangs over 500 sparkleballs during the holidays.  Guy kept his wife’s sparkleball going for 27 years, which is pretty amazing. Photos really don’t do them justice.  Time to make one and see :)


• DIY The Original Sparkleball.
• Order the original  Make-A-Sparkleball Kit
• Sparkleball photos on Pinterest and Instagram.

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checklist for making sparkleballs

Here’s an easy checklist to nudge you gently forward on making the sparkleball you’ve always wanted.  With the materials on hand, you’re halfway there.

1. Cups. When you’re grocery shopping, back-to-school shopping, or at the pharmacy look out for Solo 9oz tumblers. They come in packs of 40s and 50s, and you’ll need 50 cups per ball so buy more than you think you need.

2. Stapler and staples. Once you’ve got the cups, test the stapler you have to see if it works to join two plastic cups. No? You’ll need a plier stapler. I bought my Arrow at Ace Hardware. And don’t forget staples!

3. Drill and 1/2″ bit. This is for the holes in the bottom of the cups. Got a drill? Got a 1/2″ drill bit? Got a friend who does? You’re in business. If you’re going to make a bunch of sparkleballs, invest in a step drill bit which is made specially for drilling plastic. (You can also use a soldering iron to burn the holes in, but you’ll need really good ventilation.)

4. Lights. You need a string of 100 minilights to put 2 per cup. Do you have an old string? If not, gather all the other stuff, and when the lights hit stores in October, Voila! You’re ready to make your sparkleball.  Want battery lights?  Amazon has some good ones.

5. Hanging stuff.  You’ll want to hang it right away, so check out this pinterest page for ideas about hanging sparkleballs.  An extension cord comes in handy.

6. Party.  Share this post with friends and plan a sparkleball party together.  That’ll git ‘er done, as my stepdad Bill says.

 

P.S. Want it all in a bag, ready to go?  Order a sparkleball kit :)

What’s Hanging Now – June

It’s “June Gloom”  in San Diego.  Skies are grey.  Not cool,  not warm. Kinda blah.  Tomatoes stall on the vine. Tourists feel cheated.  This big sparkleball is perfect.  Made with a mix of 16 oz color cups and 7 oz water cups, it brings cheer to the day and a summery glow to my evening.

junesunball2

Finding the Right Cups

sparkle ball cups

From your emails and my own trial-and-error, I know how hard it can be to find the right soft plastic cups.   Solo® brand  cups are just plain terrific for making a classic sparkleball.  Their unique shape means that 50 make a gorgeous sphere.   There are other brands that will work.  It’s really about the shape.  Big mouth, little base, slanty sides.  Above are cups I’ve used with success.

For some strange reason, solo-style cups are an American thing.  Sorry, rest-of-the-world.

Warning: many 9 oz cups do not work for the Original Sparkleball.   If 12  of your cups doesn’t make a nice circle for the first ring, don’t despair. Switch to instructions for hard cups or any-size cups to find the right formula for the cups you have.


more SPARKLEBALL DIY POSTS:
–  MAKE THE ORIGINAL SPARKLEBALL
–  FIND THE RIGHT CUPS
 TIPS FOR INSERTING LIGHTS
–  THE BEST STAPLER
–  HOW TO HANG IT – 1
–  HOW TO HANG IT – 2
–  HOW TO HANG IT – 3
–  USING DIFFERENT LIGHTS – 1
–  USING DIFFERENT LIGHTS – 2
–  DRILLING A PERFECT HOLE
–  HOW TO GET IT REALLY ROUND
–  MAKE ANYCUP SPARKLEBALL
–  CAN I HOTGLUE IT?
–  MAKING MINI SPARKLEBALLS
–  HOW TO STORE YOUR SPARKLEBALL