- Use 9 oz clear plastic drinking cups...the kind that
measures approximately 3 5/8" wide by 2 7/8" deep and can be purchased at
your local grocery store.(I use Solo brand model TP-9.)
- Put them together using a hand held (plier type) stapler.
A desk type stapler is difficult to maneuver between the cups and may
cause unwanted creases or cracks. Regular staples are not big enough. They
must be heavy duty, at least 1/4".(I use the Arrow brand, model P-22
hand stapler with 5/16" staples.) This type of stapler can be found
at your local office suppy store. Home improvement stores don't usually
Jim Garner, a visitor to Snowplace, uses a
soldering iron (not a gun) to attach the cups. He achieves this by holding
the cups together to staple as in the Step-by-Step Directions below, but
instead, poking the hot soldering iron though the cup where they are
closest together (about 3/4" from the bottom of the cup). I tried this and
found it worked remarkably well, but it took me twice as long to complete
and I risked burning myself with the iron. Still, it's a great option.
- I recommend buying good quality light sets. You will
want your Light Ball to last for many seasons, and although it is possible
to replace bulbs in the ball, it is rather awkward to do so unless you
have small hands.
- I prefer to use solid colored sets or even clear
lights, rather than multi colored light sets. Purchase light sets that
connect at both ends.(You may use one set of 100 lights instead of two
50 light sets. This will make the project only slightly more difficult to
- Multi-Functional Light Sets:
Gail, a Snowplace visitor, asked about using multi-functional light
sets. Because there are more wires and a shorter distance between the
lights these sets are a bit harder to work with, but they make a wonderful
display well worth the effort. You will need a multi-functional light set
with 150 lights. Make the hole in the cup slightly bigger to accomodate
three lights instead of two and I would suggest you take care to put
same-colored lights in each cup in order to better show off the various
functions. Thank you, Gail, for the suggestion.
When stringing two or
more balls together follow the manufacture's recommendations. In most cases
connecting more than 300 bulbs (or 3 balls) in series will cause a fire
In the bottom of each cup center a hole with an electric drill and a 3/8"
drill bit. If desired, you will be able to drill four or five cups at one
time by stacking them together. Remove any residue plastic that may look
unsightly or prevent clear passage of the light bulbs.
first row consists of twelve cups. Lay one cup on its side on a flat
surface. Place a second cup on its side next to the first. Position it so
that the lip of the second cup is just under the lip of the first. Fasten
one staple near the top edge at a point where the two cups meet.
Place a third cup next to the second with its lip just over that of the
second and staple them together as before. You will notice that the cups are
beginning to form a circle.
Keeping the cups on the flat surface, continue to add cups, alternating
the position of each cup lip until twelve cups are stapled together. The lip
of the twelfth cup should rest just under the lip of the first. Staple the
twelfth to the first to complete the circle (see fig.1).
second row consists of nine cups that sit on top of the first row. Place one
cup directly on top of a cup from the first row with its lip resting just
over that of the bottom cup. Place one staple near the edge where the two
Place another cup next to the previous one with its lip also located just
over that of the bottom cup (or cups). Staple that cup to a bottom cup at a
point where they touch, and also staple that cup to the one next to it.
Continue in like manner until nine cups have been placed on top of the first
row. The ninth cup will be a tight fit and may require a slight squeeze. Be
sure to attach that ninth cup to the cup on both sides as well as to the one
on the bottom (see fig 2).
The first half of the Holiday Light Ball is completed with four more cups.
These do not exactly fall into place. Put one cup between two cups from the
second row with its lip just over those beneath it. Staple it to both cups.
Put another cup next to it. Attach that cup on the bottom and at the side.
Before attaching the remaining two cups, set both in place and experiment
a bit to find the best placement. You will need to apply slight pressure to
set them correctly. Once satisfied, staple each cup in two or three place.
Half of the ball in now completed(see fig 3).
Repeat Steps Two through Four to make the second half of the ball.
lights. Turn the "half-ball" over so the cup bottoms are facing up.
Carefully poke two lights, one at a time, through the hole in each cup. The
extra wiring will automatically gather in the center of the ball. Arrange it
so that the end lights are in an "outside" cup. This will allow the plug to
be placed outside the ball when the two halves are put together.
HINT: Plug the lights in while placing them in the cups. Bulbs can
easily come loose in this process. It is almost impossible to find loose
bulbs if they are not discovered until after all are in place and the set in
Attach the two halves together. First, be sure to run the "plug" end of the
mini-lights outside of the ball. Now, place one half-ball on top of the
other to form the shape of a ball. The cups of one half will naturally rest
between the cups of the other.
Staple the two halves together by putting two staples in each cup where
they touch the cups of the other half. The two halves are now one whole and
you have almost completed the project.
All that remains is to attach the hanger. With a paper punch, punch a
hole in two cups along the edge where the two half-balls came together,
perhaps near the protruding electric cord. (You may need to remove a staple
in order to punch the hole.) You can punch a second hole on the opposite
side of the ball so the electric cord can either go out of the top of the
ball or fall out of the bottom. Slide one end of the S-hook through one of
the holes and your Holiday Light Ball is ready to hang.
NOTE: I've found it much easier to use a soldering iron then a hole
The following "options" were submitted by Jennifer
Zurschmeide. I thought you might find them helpful. Thanks, Jennifer!
Option 1: If you can find the true "twinkle" light sets, those
that blink in random order individually (vs. 1/2 on/ 1/2 off flashing), mix
with either set of steady burning lights of same color or contrasting color.
Each cup being outfitted with one twinkle light & one steady burning light.
Amazing motion effect.
Option 2: If clear plastic cups are not available you can use the
hard plastic, "crystal" cups. Though I had to heat up the back end of a
drill bit with a propane torch to melt the holes for the lights -I recommend
doing this in a very well- ventilated area!- and hot glue gun the cups
together, the light effect was absolutely PHENOMENAL!!! The rigid plastic
cups refract the lights soooooo much better than the soft, flexible cups.
Make sure the dots of glue are kept minimal & toward the bottom ends of the
cups. If the cups are glued toward the rims then the spots are more obvious
but only at close range. They are still very sturdy when glued at the back &
the glue is almost completely invisible when the lights are on or off!
However, take care not to drop light balls made w/ the rigid cups as they
are more fragile. Though cracks are not likely to be noticed, shattered
missing pieces are hard to disguise. Should this calamity occur, all is NOT
lost; it IS possible to repair if care is taken. First, if the lights are
already inserted in the ball, push the lights out the back of the damaged
cup to the center of the ball. Using a hair blow- dryer on high, direct air
at glue points inside damaged cup til soft enough to remove cup from the
ball. It is important to do this INSIDE to damaged cup only since high heat
can cloud the plastic. DO NOT attempt to heat from the outside of damage
cup; heat may cloud the surrounding undamaged cups. Do this repair with care
& it is wise to wear leather work gloves when holding the blow dryer into
cup. Hot air will be flowing back at your hand & may cause a burn. Then,
with large, bent paperclip, secure the lights through the hole from inside
the replacement cup, loosely position cup, pull lights back through hole,
and secure cup with minimal glue. Carefully secure lights INSIDE of cup
rather than in back. Trying to DRIP hotglue into project is rather difficult
& HIT/MISS at best!
Option 3: I found that when using clear multifunction lights one can
customize bits of color by either replacing just a few of the bulbs
scattered around the orb or simply placing decoratively cut "reflecting
doilies" inside the bottoms of some/all cups. These embellishments can be
made from plain aluminum foil or from colored foil wrappings. Obviously the
caution should be noted to ensure that the bulbs are secured into place so
that none can slip back & allow the bulbs themselves to touch the foil
inserts or the cups. I personally found it necessary to glue the sockets in
place regardless to prevent any lights from sneaking back into the center of
the orb or sticking too far forward in the cups. Plus, I have greater piece
of mind that with the sockets secured there is far less chance of a fire
NOTE: Since multifunction light sets come in the 100+ number of lights
lengths, it may be helpful the note that it is easiest to begin placing
lights in the center of one half & spiral out to the edge. Then leaving the
lights designated for the last 2-3 cups from the 1st half loose to allow for
movement, facilitating the ease of placing lights in the 2nd half. The 2nd
half lights are spiraled from the outside edge to the center. Thus it is
wise to wait until the plug on the lights is positioned to secure the final
cup in place with glue. Trying to wiggle the bulky plug out between the
rigid cups is difficult & may crack some cups. Position the lights left
loose on the edge cups for slack & then join the two halves.
NOTE: I tried to outfit a ball with the multifunction, multicolored light
set of 150 lights/4 colors. When placing 3 bulbs per cup, even if you group
the colors (one color per cup) there are going to be moments in the lighting
sequence when the ball looks "muddy" due to the mixing of the colors. It is
a REAL PAIN to try coordinating what color bulb to what socket to what cup
so that only one color or coordinating colors are lit at any given time
evenly around the ball BUT IT CAN BE DONE!!! Bone up on your Calculus &
Geometry before attempting this feat & have a big bottle of Advil on hand
Remember that any imperfections apparent to the crafter are likely NOT EVEN
NOTICED by anyone else. This includes, but is not limited to, cracked cups,
glue "hair" or slightly unevenly place cups!!!