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.)
First: before putting the lights in, decide if you want the plug at the top, bottom, or middle of the ball. That’s covered in an earlier post and video How To Hang It – 1.
Second: When the sparkleball is finished, I like to plug it into an extension cord, then tuck the plugs inside the ball. Staple opening closed, and there’s less clutter hanging from your ball.
Third: the hanger. These days I use a ziptie, split ring, and large black pot hook.
On completed sparkleball, I punch holes in two top cups with a holepuncher. Then I thread the ziptie, and add a split ring. I cinch it tightly and reinforce the two cups with extra staples.
To hang, I use a 5 in. black “s” hook. I think I found them first at Ikea, but when I googled they popped up at a lot of places. You can also find them in a birdfeeder store or for hanging pots in the kitchen. I like them because they’re big enough for tree branches.
That’s just how I do it. There are so many different and cool ways to hang and display sparkleballs, I made a Pinterest board to save ideas. You can check it out here. There are also lots of ideas among the photos if you look carefully.
UPDATE: Here’s how my friend Katie hangs her sparkleball. Love it.
It’s time! Let’s kick off the 2015 Holiday Prep Season with Amber Merefield’s Sparkleball Tree. Here’s how she does it: for each ball, Amber makes a hanger out of two lengths of chain, s-hooks, zipties, and a swivel snap hook. Outside, she uses a combo of ladder and tree-climbing (“like Tarzan”) in the 20-30ft dogwood tree, which is wrapped in white lights. Each sparkleball is hung with several releasable zip-ties. The zip-ties aren’t tightened completely to give the sparkleballs play in the wind. Once sparkle balls are in place, Amber runs the electricity, using custom-length extension cords made of SPT-2 wire and vampire plugs. A custom “wire harness” at the base of the tree sends a separate cord and plug to each ball. We love the effect of sweeping white tree and red balls, but Amber says she has plans to add green and blue balls this year.
When Crystal B sent a photo of her striped sparkleball, I emailed back to ask how she’d “made the stripes.” I felt pretty foolish when she said she’d just used two colors of cups. It took a while for me to realize that how the sparkleball hangs determines how we see it.
To show off the horizontal rows so you see stripes, you’ll need to put the plug in the “top” of the sparkleball half. When you insert the last 4 cups, do it in pairs and leave a gap between them. Put the plug through the gap and thread the lights starting in the middle of the half. (video below)
If your plug comes out the middle, the rows will run sort of vertical/diagonal.