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.
The biggest reason a sparkleball doesn’t turn out right is you’re using the wrong cups. Only Solo-style squatty plastic cups will make an Original Sparkleball. If your 12 cups don’t make a nice, tidy circle then ditch your cups and go shopping. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a sparkle blob.
Lights can be faulty, which is why you always plug them in and check before inserting. It’s best to use new lights instead of an old string you have lying around so your sparkleball will burn brightly longer. The stapler can be wrong, too. A lightweight stapler is probably not strong enough to hold the cups together for very long. Even my friend Carl, the master sparkleball maker, has faced failure. This morning he went out to his garage and found this:
It seems the silicon caulk that Carl uses doesn’t like Smart&Final brand hard cups. I had a similar problem before I learned to use paperclips to hold hard cups together after I’d hot-glued them so the glue could get a good set.