Nov 29, 2009

The lesbian's guide to having pretty balls for Christmas.

I decided to try to snap myself out of the "oh, pitiful me" funk I'm in (probably due to my birthday) and nothing makes me happier than a good 5th grade craft project.  I decided to focus on Christmas and happened to think about something my mom made a few years ago after seeing them at a craft fair. Hey, that was all the incentive I needed. I hit Walmart and picked up the supplies I thought I'd need to make these balls. Some of the stuff, like a drill and bits and a stapler, I already had. Here's what I thought I needed...I chose blue lights with white wire since I planned on hanging these outside if they work, and I decorate in blue lights. Any color ought to work and I'm thinking any color of transparent cups should work, too, but I'd use clear lights if I used colored cups. Without further ado, here's my starting plan:



I figured out quickly that a fat-assed drill bit is needed. At least bigger than I originally thought. After a few false starts, I
found that a 3/8" bit was good but if you happen to have a 1/2" one, that would be good, too. I had to do a little forcing with a 3/8" hole, even though it did work. See, I got a light in the drilled hole and if you buy a set of 100 lights, you'll need to get 2 in that hole. 3/8" still works and probably gives a better hold than 1/2" would but yeah, either will work. You'll have to drill through 50 of these cups for a full ball or 25 for a half ball to hang against a wall. I did these one by one in my dining room, risking a new and unintended piercing in my hand each time. I live life on the edge like that. If you have some scrap wood, you could stack a load of cups on the wood and drill through them all at once to save on time and fear. A lesson learned through my own pathetic lack of math skills: If you are doing a 1/2 ball, use a strand of 50 lights (two in each hole). I don't want to discuss that further. Just know your lights need to go as shown in the picture below, only 2 per hole.



Once you've confirmed you can fit the lights in, put the lights aside for now. We need to build this damn thing. I used staples. If you have a better way of attaching two plastic cups together, by all means try it. Have a stapler and staples handy, since I think you'll probably resort to them in the end. Put the cups together with sides touching all the way down, stapling once or twice as shown below, to attach. The sides must touch in order to achieve the round shape needed to make a ball. Goddamn, my hand looks like something out of a Japanese horror movie. Sorry about that. Anyway, staple the cups (minus lights) together.



They need to form a circle like this:



Ruh-roh...learn from my mistake. Do *not staple the cups together while holding them upright in your ugly-looking hand, as I did. As you can see below, it causes them to be un-level and trust me, this will throw the whole project off. See?



It causes a person to have to pick out many, many staples. This is annoying.



So, (re)staple the cups as they lay flat on a table and once you have a connected, stapled base circle, begin adding another layer of cups on top, matching edges but staggering cups. Lay them as shown below, with each new cup on top of the connection of two cups below. Brick style, I guess it would be. Staple accordingly.



Your third level will consist of 4 cups. You have to work with these a little and some slight force may be necessary to make them fit. They won't fit perfectly, no matter how frustrated you get and no matter how many times you mutter "motherfucker." Trust me. Get them in the best you can and staple them before they make you cuss more. Now, repeat this whole painful procedure on a second ball half, since it will take both halves to make make one ball. If you want only one half ball to hang against a flat surface, then move on to inserting the string of 50 lights you have.



As if this project couldn't get more annoying, we're going to install the lights now. Start with the female end and in the center of one half (it's really important to start in the center, I found out the hard way), begin gently forcing 2 bulbs through each hole working to the outside set of cups in a clockwise manner. If you're going to use this outside, you might feel better sealing up the female end of the plug with electrical tape and you definitely need to end up on one of the outside cups of the ball half.



Here's where I really fail in my instructions. I could not get a decent shot of what I need you to do next so I'll try to keep it simple and will hope it makes sense...much like how it is when I try to explain why I ever got married. Anyway, take your other ball half that has no lights in it and grab the male end of your light strand. Starting with the light closest to the male plug, begin doing the exact thing again, inserting 2 lights, one at a time, into each hole beginning in center of the ball and working clockwise outward. As you reach the last outside cups to fill with lights, you will have been working toward the middle of the strand and the first half of the light ball will be being pulled closer to you. As a result, your very last two lights will be a pain in the ass to insert. Once they are in, the worst is over and you can staple the two halves together, as shown below. Make sure the male plug is hanging out, though, since this is how you'll plug it in. Really, it's a lot like people, as I think of it.



I suck at pictures in the dark, but here's a bad shot of my finished project. These things are amazingly pretty at night, no matter what colors you use. They're also a cute addition to a teen's room or a patio area for year-around use. With money as tight as it is for everyone these days, this was a $6 project that I think rivals the $20+ light up ornaments sold in stores. They'll be cheaper yet if you do half balls and can get 2 light-up ornaments out of the deal, plus, it's a great family project.



It's really pathetic that it took me all damn day to figure these out and the fact I'm excited about a craft project that involves plastic cups is more than a little sad, too. However, I feel happy when I see them and I think they'll be pretty hanging outside, so pfffffttttt! Make some. You'll like 'em.

21 comments:

Just a Thought said...

How cool is that! I might give it a try even though I swore I was not putting up any more decorations.

Sandy

Bec said...

1. I almost peed my pants while reading this.

2. I put the supplies on my shopping list.

3. I'm going to try this and will let you know how it goes.

4. YOU SAID PRETTY BALLS! I'm pretty sure that there is no such thing.

Anemone Pie said...

Sandy, once you make the first one and have a clue, they're a lot of fun to make. That first one is a bastard, though.

Bec? You know I agree with #4. And yes, let me know how it goes!

Erin Lutz said...

I love this! It came out awesome. And, really, there is no better word than motherfucker is there?? :)

Anemone Pie said...

No, Erin, it's just about the best word ever.

My Life Is This said...

AP - I like your tutorial. It's the most truthful one I've ever read! I have a drill, lights, and a stapler, and will get the cups on my next shopping trip. I think these will be pretty on my deck. I'll let you know.

Suze said...

AP had to check out the balls everyone is raving about! Then I get here and almost spit out my coke laughing so hard....a lesbian with power tools. Making crafts. Taking pictures. Staples and plastic cups. PRICELESS! It really turned out good! These really look so Florida and will look great all year long on the porch or patio. I am sending a few dear friends to your blog just to check it out and I think this will become all the rage in my town too!

Ami said...

OMG! AP, this post had me cracking up! I love it! And, the ball is cute; I'm sure it does look very pretty hanging outside in the dark. :)

won said...

Dang! Those are really cool AP. Your stick-to-it-ness is impressive. I think the whole thing would have landed in my garbage long before it was complete.

I like the blue...it looks much warmer than traditional red or green.

Great work.

Tee said...

Okay, I love this! This craft turned out great and you have so much more patience than I do! I would have thrown the whole thing in the trash before I even got the holes drilled into the cups. Thanks for sharing your hard work with us.

r.a.w. chronicles said...

That's awesome, AP. And the end result is very pretty! It puts my decorative ensemble of ornaments and lights in a basket to shame.

FalkFamily said...

That was awesome. And there is nothing like seeing a post titled "lesbians guide to having pretty balls" in my google reader :)

laura said...

COOL! I'm almost inspired to give this project a try, but I was the kid with my fingers glued together in kinder. I also see fourth of July decorations. Happy belated bday.

MY LIFE WITH BOYS! said...

That is so neat! You did great narrating it! You have patience, I must say:) I think I would have thrown it across the room! Pretty though!

fersher said...

I must admit, your post title really caught my eye. I love the final product. Nice work, AP!

Rebecca said...

These are gorgeous! The only thing better than reading about the assembly would be to have been able to watch in real life.

Dawn said...

That was absolutely awesome to read. You are the only one I know who can make a tutorial funny as hell while still be instructional.

Anemone Pie said...

Y'all are the best! Who else would read this and not think "trailer park trash!" and move on? Not that I live in a trailer park or even a modular home, and not that I have issues with either, but still.

If anyone makes the balls, will you let me know and take pictures? I'll feature them!

By the way, for everyone who commented on my patience? We can all thank a certain ex-husband for teaching me that. Or, alternately, we can all throw glass things at him.

Jennifer said...

You've got the prettiest blue balls of any lesbian I know!

I'd love to try this, but I'm scared. I'm so craft inept... but after the cursing, you don't make it sound completely un-doable. Maybe if I get drunk first... :)

heather said...

yep this is a true floridian decoration! my parents have one LOL! and i kinda think i want to try to make one now that you have told me how to. and if i actually get to say "mother fucker" i am IN!

my parent's has some sort of musical thingy in it and it plays christmas music. wonder what that is? their friend who made it is no longer living around here so i can't ask. hmmm...

Anemone Pie said...

Heather...music? No way! Just no way! I'm going to have to do some Googling in the morning.