Dec 13, 2006

Craft Time With The Schmidts

Last weekend, my wife and I made some Christmas Light Balls. They seemed simple enough to make - just glue some cups together and stick lights in them. So we found some instructions on the internet (click here), and decided to go for it.

We started where anyone would start - Wal-Mart. Unfortunately, they were all sold out of clear punch cups. We did manage to get the lights, and went to the local Party Universe to get the cups. They did have cups, but they were $10 for 100! We wanted to make 4 balls, and the instructions told us we needed 50 cups per ball, so that worked out to $20 on cups. The project was starting to get expensive. We had thought about getting a glue gun, but the instructions mentioned you could also use a stapler. Seeing as how we had just spent the entire budget on cups, we decided to head home at that point.

When we got home, we were excited about getting started. We got out the electric drill, and began drilling holes in the bottom of the cups – well, we tried to. The problem was that the cups were too brittle, too thin…too expensive! They had no give. They didn’t bend, they cracked like glass. Every one we attempted to drill into cracked and became unusable. When I tried to put a staple in one of them, it split down the side. It was becoming very obvious that we were not going to be able to use our $20 cups.

We drove up to the Winn-Dixie and found some Solo cups, but they were bigger than we wanted. The instructions recommend that you use clear 9 oz punch glasses, but all they had at the store were frosted 12 oz cups. So, we bought a sleeve and took them home for testing. The drilling and stapling went much better, but because they were the wrong size, the ball was growing out of control. We used all 50 cups and only finished 1 side of the ball! At this point, we were desperate to see some results, so we put the purple lights into the cups and turned it on. It looked cool, but not awesome. We briefly considered hanging a half a ball on the side of the house, and then decided to go to the Publix across town and see what they had in the way of cups.

We were still bitter about spending the $20 on the first batch of cups, so we asked ourselves a question: “What do you do with 196 expensive punch glasses?”

Answer: “Return them!”

I was skeptical at first, but Angela convinced me. So we put all the expensive cups back into the package. Problem. The package with 96 cups was clearly shorter than the package that still had 100. So we opened the fresh pack, and moved 2 cups into the other. Then we put the twisty-ties back on, and they looked great! We were ready to hit the road. Again.

At Publix, we found exactly what we wanted! Clear, 9 oz Solo punch cups. We got 200 for about $8, and also decided to buy some red and green cups to make a festive, multi-color ball with white lights. Publix is near Party Universe, so I was able to return the cups (he, he) without incident. Angela waited in the car because one of her students worked there, and we didn’t want them to be able to identify us if the deal went sour.

When we got home, we went to work. Now that we had the right materials, the job went fast. Angela drilled the holes (it works best if you drill a stack of cups all at once) and then handed the cups to me. I stapled the cups together, and then Angela stuffed the lights into the cups. The tricky part is bending and manipulating the cups so they all fit together just right. After 2 or 3 balls, you definitely get the hang of it!

Staples were a good way to go, but sometimes they malfunction and you have to pull them back out. Angela had the hardest job, by far! You have to put two lights in each cup, and the holes aren’t quite big enough. This prevents the lights from slipping back out, but is a real headache for the person trying to get them in there in the first place. I should know - I did about 25 before I stopped!

We completed two balls on Friday (the blue one and the purple one), and made a red ball and a multicolored ball on Saturday. It was like a sweatshop! When we started to make the ball with the red and green cups, we noticed that those cups were more difficult to work with. They were harder to drill, and they split when you stapled them. We put some lights in them and decided they looked great, so we decided to get a glue gun and finish the project. We went to Wal-Mart, and found one for $1.67! Score! It’s tiny, but it did the job. The only problem is that you have to hold the cups together so the glue will set. You know the glue is done setting when the hot, burning sensation goes away (the cups are not insulated very well). I’m glad we took the extra time to do the red & green ball – it looks really cool.

So that was our fun, crafting adventure. My hands are still cramped from all the stapling and gluing, but you know what? Those light balls look good!

No comments: