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.