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