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By far, the easiest, fastest way to make this beloved decoration is with a plier stapler, which you can get at a hardware store or from Amazon (of course!)

Step 1: Gather Your Supplies

First you'll need the right cup for the basic 50-cup sparkleball. It's 9 oz, soft plastic, and squatty, with a mouth that's much bigger than its bottom. Solo works, but so does Dart, Safeway brand and others.

You'll also need:

  • the plier stapler, staples
  • a drill with 1/2" bit
  • 100 or more mini-lights (motion lights make it a dancing sparkleball)
  • something to make a hanger
  • optional but helpful: scissors, clothes pins

Step 2: Drill Cups

Drill a 1/2" hole in the bottom of the cups for the lights. A step drill bit makes this really easy, but a regular bit will work. (You can instead use a soldering iron to burn the holes.)

Step 3: 12-9-4: Make the Layers

A 50-cup sparkleball is made by stacking rings and building 2 identical halves. To build the rings:

  • Staple 12 cups together. Their rims will overlap. Staple deep in the cups. If this doesn't make a nice tidy circle, then your cups aren't the right size. :(
  • Staple 9 cups in a ring. This one may curl up.
  • Staple the last 4 cups in two pairs, two and two.

Step 4: Stack, Staple Layers for 1st Half

  • Put the 9-cup ring on top of the 12-cup.
  • Settle it so they fit nicely.
  • Staple each 9-cup to a cup under it. Make sure rims touch all the way around.
  • Add 1 pair into the top. Staple to cups in the 9-ring.
  • Add last pair. Staple, but not to the other pair. You'll slip the plug between them.

Step 5: Add Lights to 1st Half

TEST LIGHTS before inserting!

  • From inside, push the light plug outside between the two pairs at the top of the dome.
  • Flip half over, and work from inside. Start with cup in center near plug, and insert 2 lights through hole in cup. ( If the hole is too small snip it with scissors. If the hole is too large, grab a big of extra wire and stuff it in hole to anchor bulbs.)
  • Work cup to cup, from center to outside edge, then back into center. Finish on outside edge.
  • Set aside.

Step 6: Build 2nd Half

Build 2nd half just like first.

  • On lights, start from opposite end of the string.
  • End lights on outside edge.

Step 7: Finish Lights

The last lights are the hardest to add, as the halves pull together. In the photo, you can see I used 2 sets of 50 lights. This is easier but not necessary.

Step 8: Join Halves

Put the halves together. Nestle cups the two sides fit well. Keep cord clear. Clothes pins (or paper clips or clamps) help on this step. They hold the ball together while you staple it, and keep you on track.

Step 9: Make a Hanger

I use a zip tie and metal ring, but you can make a hanger any way you want. Just make sure it attaches to at least 2 well-stapled cups.

Step 10: Finished !

Plug in and be amazed. It's the best moment ever. A sparkle ball really is greater than the sum of its parts!

note: be adventuresome with lights. mix LEDs and incandescent. icicle lights work great. motion lights are fun and make your sparkle ball look like a mini-ufo. cord color will change how your unlit ball looks.

For lots of sparkleball photos and ingenuity from all over the world visit sparkleball.com.

Step 11:

<p>THANKE YOU</p>
<p>I purchased a package of generic cups and noticed that they do not have the ridges around the edges that the cups in the photo have. SPEND the extra money and time to get that style of cup, the ridges help diffuse the light and add to the sparkle effect. </p>
<p>THANKS!!! I bought a few from a guy that was selling them from a van in an empty lot years ago. He made his by melting the cups together and one model had the string of lights that had the controller where you could get the lights to blink, fade on and off, etc. Gonna make one for the man cave!!</p>
<p>Hey Edward-- where did you buy your first one? I love to track where sparkleballs show up, and my first one (1993) had chasing lights too. That's my favorite kind! Every man cave needs a sparkleball! </p>
<p>This was the mid 90's in Palmdale CA. The guy had set up in a corner lot and had a bunch lit up - he had solid, multicolored and chasing. I bought a chasing for the apartment. I do remember that I wanted to buy more, but the guy didn't want to give me any contact info - he was paranoid and had been chased around the area by the sheriffs for setting up in vacant lots. His 'balls' were all tacked together by what looked like a soldering iron. He had punched three holes into the bottom of the cups and fed the bulbs thru the holes.</p><p>I knew HOW he put them together, I just needed to see better, safer method and some kind of instructions! Thanks for the instructable and I hope to have one in time for Christmas!!!</p>
<p>I LOVE this story. It sounds just like the guy I bought my first sparkleball from, but he was set up outside Tyler TX. I guess nobody sells contraband sparkleballs roadside anymore. Now it's Craigslist and Facebook :) </p>
<p>He was selling right before Christmas and we set up the tree near a plant hook in the ceiling - and we used the SB as a tree topper. After the holiday season we left it where it was - it was really cool to walk to the apt and see it in the window, a neat way to be welcomed home. </p>
<p>Can't wait to try it!!!</p>
what a fun lighting idea!
<p>thanks! The inventor is a mystery. I just love supplying the instructions. </p>

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