The Original Sparkleball -- and the easiest to make-- requires a 9 oz Solo-style plastic cup. But any cup can make a sparkleball, with a little futzing and patience.
Step 1: Drill Holes and Make Ring 1
First, drill holes in the bottom of your cups. I use a 1/2" step drill bit. You can also use a standard drill bit or a soldering iron to melt the holes. OR you can even just stuff lights in the center which looks surprisingly good.
For the build:
- All sparkleballs are built by stacking rings which decrease in size.
- In the Any-Cup Sparkleball, you'll have to figure out the Ring Formula for the cups you're using.
- Build a ring of cups to make a perfect circle. For these 10 oz cups, it takes 27 cups to make Ring 1.
- Staple the cups together.
- I use a Plier Stapler.
Step 2: Make Ring 2
- Ring 2 will be 1-3 cups smaller than Ring 1.
- It will curl up a little.
- My Ring 2 is 24 cups.
- Staple the ring together.
- DO NOT staple it to the bottom ring yet.
Step 3: Make Successive Rings
- Continue building ever-smaller rings.
- Each time use fewer cups.
- As the rings get smaller, the number of cups you remove gets larger.
- With these particular 10 oz cups, the rings continue: (27 - 24) - 21 – 17 – 12 – 7 – 1
- DO NOT STAPLE them to each other yet.
Step 4: "Clock Stapling"
To make your Any Cup Sparkleball rounder, take a bit of care in how you stack and staple the rings to each other. There are two tricks which help. The first I call "Clock Stapling."
- Place Ring 2 on top of Ring 1.
- Think of a clock face.
- Staple 1st cups at 12 noon (photo = #1)
- Next, staple across the ring at 6pm ( #2)
- Staple at 9pm (#3)
- Staple at 3pm (#4)
- Staple the rest of the cups randomly while gently pulling them so the rims line up just under the rims of the cups they rest on.
- Some cups will be on top of a cup. Some will be in “valleys” between two cups
Step 5: "Cups and Valleys"
- When you place Ring 2 on top of Ring 1, place and staple the First Cup so it nestles between two cups, in a “valley.”
- When you go across to 6pm to staple the 2nd cup, it will be on top of a cup.
- From then on staple the cups where they fall, following the clock technique on previous step.
On Ring 3, alternate.
- Staple the First Cup on top of the First Cup in ring 2. (see photo) Go across the ring and staple the Second Cup in a “valley.” Staple the next cups where they fall.
- Alternate and repeat as you add rings until you finish.This forms something close to hexagonal packing, which gives it a nice round shape.
Step 6: One Half Done
Your half sparkleball will look like this. Build the 2nd Half using the formula you created for the 1st Half.
Step 7: Add Lights and Hanger Anchor
I used 100 lights, 1 light per cup. I like my sparkleballs kinda dim. If you like BRIGHT, then buy as many lights as you can plug together. Remember that the more lights, the heavier the sparkleball.
In this sparkleball, I used 2 chopsticks :) bound with zipties to form a support. I threaded wire into the center and wrapped it around the center of the chopsticks. You could use other things like popsicle sticks or dowels. It's an easy way to distribute weight. If you added a bunch of lights and yours is heavy, you may want to add 4 cords and attach them at the 4 points of the cross.
Step 8: Join the Sides.
Staple the sides together. And you're done.
This technique -- of building successively smaller rings-- will work with any cup. (This one I made using the 10oz cups alternated with cheap 7oz water cups.) It's helpful to use paper clips or clothes pins to build it first to see how it works. Then you're good to staple.
To see more sparkleball ideas, visit sparkleball.com.