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1  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / SPARKLEBALL (no-melt) **Tutorial** -- Easy, Child-Friendly! on: November 24, 2008 08:01:48 AM
Sparkleballs are fun!



For years I've been making sparkleballs, but this year, thanks to a new friend and a  new husband, here's a new way to make these light balls without melting plastic.  Thank you, Erika for the hole-punch idea.  Thank you, Steve for the zip-tie idea.
 

No more stinky burning plastic!  But it requires soft Solo (or Solo-style "tumbler") 9oz plastic cups.

For one no-melt sparkleball you need:
  • 50 soft plastic cups - 9 oz tumbler-style with slanted sides
  • electric drill with 1/2" bit
  • hand-held hole-puncher
  • 100-150 mini-light strand
  • 200 zip-ties (Erika uses lengths of wire, but I find zip-ties easier.)
  • optional:  beads, glitter

STEP 1
Drill a hole 1/4-1/2" in the bottom of all 50 cups. You can stack several and drill them at once.  The hole must be big enough to slide 1-3 lights through (depending on how many lights in your strand).  Drill one cup and check that lights will fit through. You want them to insert snugly. If the hole cracks a little when you push the lights through, that's ok.
OPTIONAL:  For a very pretty effect, dip cup rims in glue, then glitter.  Let dry.

STEP 2
Punch 4 holes around the top of each cup.  Space them evenly apart, so each hole has one across from it.  If the cup has a raised lip, punch holes just under it.

STEP 3
Arrange 12 cups in a circle.  Attach each cup to the one next to it using a zip-tie through the touching holes.  DO NOT TIGHTEN the zip-ties until all cups are attached.  Then tighten zip-ties one by one, making sure the circle of cups stays flat.  Trim zip-ties.

OPTIONAL STEP:Here is where you start adding the beads if you want.  Slide plastic beads onto zip-ties before tightening.

STEP 4
Place 9 cups, one by one, on top of and around of the circle.  Attach each cup to the one it sits on top of.  When all 9 cups are in place, then attach each one to the cup next to it. (These cups will attach at 3 holes.) Finally, tighten all zip-ties and trim.

STEP 5
Place 4 cups into the space left in the sparkleball-half you're building. When they fit neatly, attach them to each other.  These cups will attach at all four holes to other cups.  If holes don't quite meet, punch new ones.  When all cups are attached, tighten zip-ties and trim.

STEP 6
IMPORTANT! TEST LIGHTS BEFORE YOU INSERT THEM.

To insert lights: start at the prong end of the cord. Insert the two lights closest to the prong into a cup at the outside rim. (The plug will then hang out when you put the two halves together.) Depending on how many lights you're using, insert 1-3 lights in each cup--using half the strand of lights on this half.

Work slowly. It's important NOT to skip a cup or miss a light. If you crack a cup, that's ok. This is the hardest part, but you're half done!

STEP 7
Build the second half of the ball just like the first.  When you thread the lights, start with the opposite end of the strand, so the lights will meet when you join the halves.

STEP 8
Press the two halves together, making sure all wires are neatly tucked inside the ball.  Attach halves with zip-ties.  Tighten them and trim.

STEP 9
To make a hanger for your sparkleball, decide where the top is.  Do you want the cord out the top? Or the bottom?  I make my hanger out of 2 "s" hooks and a bit of chain, but you can use fishing line, zip-ties, wire coathangers, or ribbon.

STEP 10
Plug in and enjoy!

If you'd rather make sparkleballs with a soldering iron-- the old-school way-- here's another Craftster tute to show how:  http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=189563.0
2  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Heritage Natal Plum Jam on: June 23, 2008 02:47:24 PM
Natal Plums--  click here for a good photo: http://www.tradewindsfruit.com/natal_plum.htm - grow all over southern California.  They are ornamental, large, dark green thorny shrubs, and you'll find them in parks, in your back yard, at the beach.  The small juicy natal plums ripen in June.   They range from bright red to almost black.  And they taste like a cross between a plum and a cranberry.

Making jam from these little fruits is easy and fun.

First,  wash 6-8 small commercial jam jars.  Sterilize them by putting in a 250 degree oven for 30 min.  Sterilize the rims and new lids by simmering in water for the same time.

Ingredients:

6 cups chopped natal plums
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 cups sugar --  measured out into a bowl
1 box commerical pectin

1.  Put chopped plums in a large saucepan.  Add lemon juice and pectin.  Bring to a ROLLING boil.  That's a furious boil that even your stirring won't stop.  But do stir to keep mixture from scorching.

2.  Dump all the sugar into the saucepan, into the boiling mass.  Stir it in to dissolve. 

3.  Bring fruit BACK to a rolling boil, stirring so it won't burn.  Once the boil is furious, set the timer.  Boil for 1 minute.

4.  Remove fruit from stovetop.  Ladle it into hot jars, filling up to 1/4 in of the jar top.  Dry lids and rims with a clean towel.  Put lids on.  When you screw on the rims, just tighten til it barely catches.  Not too tight.

5.  Let jam cool.  You should hear jars pop to indicate seal is setting. Some cookbooks say you must let jam set for a week before eating.  I say, Whooey!  Eat!  Once jam is opened, you must refrigerate.  Sealed jam should last a year.

6.  Be proud.  You are eating local.  You are preserving food.  You are eating the way your great-grandmother did.  You are resourceful!

3  HOME SWEET HOME / Pet-Related Crafts: Discussion and Questions / LOOKING FOR: dog saddlebag how-to on: January 26, 2008 06:47:43 AM
I'm looking for a pattern or how-to for making a saddlebag or backpack for my dog Simca.



This would be for carrying groceries or library books, and it would give Simca a job in the family.

Thanks!
4  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Valentine's Day / Sparkleheart ***With Tutorial** on: January 23, 2008 09:07:37 AM
Here's a new twist on sparkleballs for St. Val's Day -  Make a sparkleheart!




approx. 10 x 14 inches

The supplies and method are just like making a basic sparkleball.  So review the sparkleball tutorial before you begin making your sparkleheart.

You will need:  50 9 oz "tumbler" clear plastic cups (must have slanted sides), 100 red mini-lights (available online at all Christmas light sites), a soldering iron, and good ventilation.    Red cups would be awesome, but I can't find them.

1. With a hot soldering iron, poke a 1/2" hole in the bottom of all 50 cups. Divide cups into two groups of 25.

2. Arrange 13 cups in a circle. How you join cups to each other is what turns them into a heart-shape, so the next steps are crucial. When you burn through one cup to the next, hold cups in place until the solder joint cools completely. Go slow. Be patient.

Here's a diagram to show you how to build the first layer and start the second.  The white arrows show whether to attach cups at tops, bottoms, or both.



3. Join the 2 cups at the top of the circle (cups #1 and #2) at top rims only. This makes the top of the heart. Join the next 6 cups-- adding 3 on each side of cups #1 and #2-- at their bottoms only. You will have 8 cups forming an arc (almost half the circle.) print diagram for layer 1

 4. Join #9 and #10 to #7 and #8 at tops and bottoms of cups. Join #11 and #12 at the tops only. The final cup, #13, is the last cup and the heart's point. Join it at the bottom to #11 and #12. Make sure these joints are strong.

5. The first layer should now resemble a heart. The joints must be strong enough to keep the shape as you add the next layer.   

6. The 2nd layer has 9 cups. Add Cup #14 at the top. Nestle it into the space between cups #1 and #2. It may almost point upward. This forms the heart's center dip. Now place the other 8 cups on top of the first layer, continuing the heart shape. They will not necessarily touch each other but will attach to the layer below.   
 
7. Fit the last 3 cups into the open space left. When you're happy with the fit, join them in. This first half will look now like a fat, smashed heart.

8. Thread 50 of the red mini-lights into the heart half. Each cup will have 2 lights inserted into the one hole. IMPORTANT: Start threading at Cup #13, the heart's bottom point, with the pronged end of the cord. 
 
9. Build the second half exactly like the first. When you're ready to thread lights on the second half, please NOTE that on a heart-shaped sparkleball, you must begin and finish threading lights on Half 2 exactly as you did Half 1-- at Cup #13. (This is different than a sparkleball, where it doesn't matter since it's round.) You want to be able to join the heart halves perfectly, and the lights must match up. 

10. Join the two halves securely, taking care not to burn the wires or lights. The finished sparkleheart will be 2-dimensional (not 3 like a sparkleball) and looks best hung against something so you can really see the heart shape. It doesn't work as well if it's free-hanging.

11.  Make a hanger with clear fishing line, chain and "s" hooks, or a shower curtain ring.  You can see more on hangers on the last step of the sparkleball tutorial .


Have fun!
5  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / plastic sparkleball light ball TUTORIAL on: August 12, 2007 01:13:49 PM



I can't stop making sparkleballs.  I'm obsessed.  Photos don't do them justice.  You must see them lit.  They're like tiny dancing ufo's, and what's brilliant is that the handmade ones totally are superior to the storebought.  Below are some directions that worked for me.

TO START:  you'll need 50 plastic cups (9 oz tumblers with slanted sides);  150 (more or less) christmas lights with function control ("chasing lights") and a soldering iron (you can find these at craft stores or hardware stores).   AND you must have good ventilation.  Do not make these indoors!

 1.  With a hot soldering iron, poke a hole (approx 1/2 in) through the bottom of all 50 cups.  Divide the cups into 25/25.  You'll make the sparkleball in 2 halves, each with 25 cups.

2.Arrange 12 cups in a circle.
Join each cup to its neighbor at the cup bottoms. Press the hot iron through the bottom-edges of two cups at once. A joint forms as it cools. You are "welding" the cups together. 

3. The next layer has 9 cups. Build this ring on top of the first, one cup at a time.   Join each cup to at least two neighbors-- working from the inside and close to the bottom.  There may be small gaps between some of the cups in the second ring.

 4.  Fit the last 4 cups into the space left on top of the hemisphere. Once they're all in place, then join them with the soldering iron. Work close to the cup bottoms and attach each cup to as many others as you can.

 5.  Now you're ready to thread the lights.  First, test them to make sure they work!  This is a must.  Now, depending on how many total lights there are, each cup will have 2-3 lights in it, each threaded through the one hole.  
    To thread lights: start at the prong end. Insert the two lights closest to the prong into a cup at the outside rim. (The plug will then hang out when you put the two halves together.)
    Work your way around the ball half, zigzaging from outer cups to inner cups and back. You want to end up on the outer rim, at the cup next to one you started with.  Work slowly, careful not to skip a cup or miss a light. If you crack a cup, that's ok. Work slowly, careful not to skip a cup or miss a light. If you crack a cup, that's ok.

6.  Set aside the completed half. Build the second half just like you did the first. (Steps 1 - 4)

  7.  On the second half, insert lights working from the opposite end (the beginning end.) Start with any cup but make sure you finish at the outer rim.The last lights will be the hardest to insert as you juggle the two halves.

8. Press the two halves together, making them fit nicely. When you join them-- be very careful not to burn through to the lights or wire.  You're almost finished.  But go over the sparkleball, making sure each cup is joined to at least two other cups.  I often "notch" any place two cup rims touch, for further support.

9. Make a hanger for the sparkleball. I use a bit of chain and two "s" hooks. But you can also use clear fishing line or wire. Attach the hanger through a hole that goes between two cups and forms a solid bond.

10.  Plug in and enjoy.  Change the light function dial to see the sparkleball dance.  

You can make a mini-sparkleball using 1 oz condiment cups, and I've heard of a giant sparkleball made of 10 oz. cups.  I've used all kinds of lights.  So be creative and post back with your own sparkleball creations.
For more information and photos, check out www.sparkleball.com

6  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / holiday sparkleballs on: August 12, 2007 12:54:53 PM



    I can't stop making sparkleballs -- aka Christmas plastic cup light balls.  I'm obsessed.  Photos don't do them justice.  You must see them lit.  They're like tiny dancing ufo's, and what's brilliant is that the handmade ones totally are superior to the storebought.  Below are some directions that worked for me.

TO START:  you'll need 50 plastic cups (9 oz tumblers with slanted sides);  140-150 christmas lights with function control ("chasing lights") and a soldering iron (at any hardware or crafts store.) 

  1.  With a hot soldering iron, poke a hole (approx 1/2 in) through the bottom of all 50 cups.

2.Arrange 12 cups in a circle.

Join each cup to its neighbor at the cup bottoms. Press the hot iron through the bottom-edges of two cups at once. A joint forms as it cools.

3. The next layer has 9 cups. Build this ring on top of the first, one cup at a time.
Join each cup to at least two neighbors-- working from the inside and close to the bottom.  There may be small gaps between some of the cups in the second ring.

  4.Fit the last 4 cups into the space left. Once they're all in place, then join them. Work close to the cup bottoms and attach each cup to as many others as you can.

  5.  Now you're ready to thread the lights.  First, test them to make sure they work!  This is a must.  Now, depending on how many total lights there are, each cup will have 2-3 lights in it, each threaded through the one hole. 
    To thread lights: start at the prong end. Insert the two lights closest to the prong into a cup at the outside rim. (The plug will then hang out when you put the two halves together.)     Work your way around the ball half, zigzaging from outer cups to inner cups and back. You want to end up on the outer rim, at the cup next to one you started with.  Work slowly, careful not to skip a cup or miss a light. If you crack a cup, that's ok.


  6.  Set aside the completed half. Build the second half just like you did the first. (Steps 1 - 4)

  7.  On the second half, insert lights working from the opposite end (the beginning end.) Start with any cup but make sure you finish at the outer rim.The last lights will be the hardest to insert as you juggle the two halves.

   8. Press the two halves together, making them fit nicely. When you join them-- be careful not to burn the lights or wire.Go over the sparkleball, making sure each cup is joined to at least two other cups.  I often "notch" any place two cup rims touch, for further support.

   9. Make a hanger for the sparkleball. I use a bit of chain and two "s" hooks. But you can also use clear fishing line or wire. Attach the hanger through a hole that goes between two cups and forms a solid bond.

10.  Plug in and enjoy.  Change the light function to see the sparkleball dance. 

You can make a basic sparkleball using regular Christmas lights (100 lights; 2 in each cup)  or mini-sparkleball using 1 oz condiment cups.  I've heard of a giant sparkleball made of 10 oz. cups.  I've used all kinds of lights.  You'll be amazed at what you can find online.  So be creative and post back with your own sparkleball creations.

For more information and photos, check out www.sparkleball.com

7  REUSING/RECYCLING/RECRAFTING / What the heck can I do with THIS? / Plastic cups? on: August 12, 2007 12:51:50 PM
Imagine having a huge party, then cleaning up, washing the cups, and making sparkleballs-- decorative light balls made with cups and christmas lights.  My oldest sparkleball has lasted 15 years!  Lots of instructions can be found on the internet.  I hope to build a tutorial on this site soon.  Just google plastic cup light ball.
8  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Leftover Red Wine? on: August 12, 2007 12:45:04 PM
Ever have those leftover bottles of red wine?

In the summer, make sangria!  This is like making your own homemade wine cooler. 

1.  In a large pitcher, add four cups of red wine.  This can be a mishmash of leftovers.  You can even use some white or some hard spirits like brandy or port.

2.  Add a cup of fruit juice.  Any kind.  I usually use orange or apple.

3.  Add 4 tbl. sugar.

4.  Slice up a lemon or lime and an orange.  Add these to the wine.

5.  Let sit overnight in the fridge.  When serving,  I like to fill the wine glass 3/4's full of sangria and top off with cold, cheap champagne.  You can use white wine.  Or even sparkling water.  Add ice if you want and garnish with lemon slice.
9  COOKING / Recipes and Cooking Tips / Vanilla Soymilk Cocktail on: August 12, 2007 12:30:44 PM
for plenty of estrogen--  how about soymilk and kahlua?  you won't believe how good this is--  just like a black russian but with lots of estrogen-enhancing soy.  (good for pms and menopause.)  Add plenty of ice.

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