Picture of Sparkleball Mini for the Holidays
Mini-sparkleball is the holiday light ball everybody loves. Much cuter version of the big sparkleball

You'll need:

1. 50 condiment cups - 1 oz size with slanted sides - like the little cups that ketchup comes in at hamburger places.
2. soldering iron
3. string of mini-lights (50-70 count)

(For a no-melt mini-sparkleball, follow directions on the no-melt
sparkleball instructable substituting the 1oz condiment cups for the 9oz cups.)

And for more variations, inspirations, and photos of sparkleballs from all over the world (including the world's biggest sparkleball), check out sparkleball.com
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Step 1: The Right Cups

Picture of The Right Cups
The easiest way to make a mini-sparkleball is to start with the right cups. Use 1 oz condiment cups, like the little cuties that you pump ketchup into at a hamburger place. They should have slanted sides. Here you see one next to a 9 oz "Solo" tumbler (the cup for a basic sparkleball.)

Step 2: Cup Bottoms

Picture of Cup Bottoms
(photos show 9 oz cups but you're working with the little mini cups) With a hot soldering iron or woodburning tool, poke a hole in the bottom of all 50 cups.

Step 3: Layer 1

Picture of Layer 1
Arrange 12 mini-cups in a circle. Join them to each other at cup bottoms, melting a joint between them with the soldering iron. This ring is the first layer.

Step 4: Layer 2

Picture of Layer 2
Add 9 cups around the top of the first layer, joining them to the cups they sit on top of. There will be gaps between the cups in this layer; space them as evenly as you can.

Step 5: Layer 3 AND Lights

Picture of Layer 3 AND Lights
Fit 4 mini-cups into the gap left in the top of the ball half. Flip it over so you're working from the inside. Start threading lights by inserting 1 (or more depending on total number) light into a cup. Always test the lights before you begin and start inserting with the lights closest to the pronged plug end. (see photo)

Step 6: 2nd Half

Picture of 2nd Half
Set aside the ball half full of lights. Build second ball half as in steps 1-4. When you insert lights in the second half, start working from the opposite end of the lights (plug end.)

Step 7: FINISH

Picture of FINISH
Fit the two halves together, making sure the plug hangs out between them (and the connector plug too if you plan to link more than one together). Join the halves by melting joints wherever cup rims touch. Hold the halves tightly together as you work, but be very careful not to melt wires.

Make a hanger anyway you choose. First decide where you want the cord to come out, top or bottom. Then burn a hole between two cups. Use an "s" hook -- clear fishing line -- zip ties -- wire -- or a coat hanger or whatever you want to make a hanger for the sparkleball. I usually use "s" hooks and a bit of chain.

Step 8: Plug in and enjoy!

Picture of Plug in and enjoy!
Cute as a button! Look for odd mini-lights on sale after Christmas. They work great! These are "bubble" lights, the lights in Monica's lighted mini-ball are blue and white prism lights.


Picture of OPTIONAL
Dip the cup rings in glue then glitter. Let dry before you put the ball together. Not for the faint-hearted. Glitter will permeate your entire workspace.
trueghost361 month ago

Did you know that you can make a battery Sparkle ball ? I did I went to 1 tree & bought the battery lights & put them in the ball. That works to .Oh I used a glug gun to melt the bottom of plastic cups to. To put the lights in hole of cups .Try it it works better so u do not have all of string of lights to deal with ok happy campers.

sparkleball_lady (author)  trueghost361 month ago
Cool! I made one years ago for a friend's boat, but I bet the battery lights are even better now and last longer.
live4ktm7 months ago

Awesome ! This is a great idea. Thank you.

tschnet13 years ago
I use a high heat glue gun. It doesn't give the plastic smell that a soldering iron does.
xaraxania5 years ago
ooo this is lovely, i really like the spacey look to it and glitter too, its inspired, im with instructables on facebook too people, join up if you're on there :) Janet, isle of wight , england
fade4006 years ago
can you use the zip tie method on these cups as well ? Do most stores carry these sized cups ? does melting cups damage your solder iron ?
sparkleball_lady (author)  fade4006 years ago
Yes. You can use the zip-tie method if the cups are soft enough to punch holes in. You'll have best luck finding them in a food supply store. (In CA I found them at Smart And Final.) But you can also use 4 oz "souffle" cups. Really any cup with a smaller base than rim (slanted sides.) will work. Others have used the straight-sided cup but these directions won't work with them. Yes, the melting probably ruins your soldering iron. Since I only use it for sparkleballs, I never minded.
great thank you ! this looks really cool