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.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

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 :)

Get Ready: Halloween

halloween-lightsHow fun to find these lights at a 50% sale on Halloween lights at my Rite-Aid Pharmacy. There were 25 globes.  So I had to space them randomly.  Also I had checked before I bought them that the plastic globes popped off so I could insert the bulb, then replace the globe from inside the cup.  It turned out great, and not just for Halloween.

More Posts on Halloween Ideas:
– Halloween 1
– Halloween 2
– Halloween 3
Halloween 4
 Black Beauty
– Black Sparkleball
– Halloween Sparkleball Kit

 


SaveSave

Using Different Lights

Icicle Lights
Icicle Light Sparkleball
dennis
Dennis and large textured mini’s

Don’t be afraid to experiment with lights.  Any bunch on a string will do.   I recently made a sparkleball with LED icicle lights I’d found cheap after the holidays, and they worked really well.  They seemed easier to insert than the usual mini’s, and their color is pretty.  Carl uses old-school C9 bulbs in his retro ball.

Battery-powered lights are terrific!  I like the ones that use “D” size batteries.  They come with timers and multi-modes.  How great it is to be able to carry my patio sparkleball in and out as needed, with no cord fuss.

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 1.48.24 PM
Jake uses globe lights.

You can also create a new effect by mixing  lights.  Just insert two or more different colors or kinds together.  Clip the two halves together to plug in and test the effect before you staple, so it’s easier to make changes.

WARNING:

  1.  Do not mix LED and incandescent light strings.
  2.  Make sure you know how the strings will connect before you start inserting.  Some strings aren’t made with connectors, and you don’t want to get stuck pulling the lights out.

 


HELPFUL DIY HOW-TO POSTS:
–  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 THE ORIGINAL SPARKLEBALL
–  MAKE ANYCUP SPARKLEBALL
–  MAKING MINI SPARKLEBALLS