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Mirror, Mirror on the Ball

In a previous article, I talked about how to use our Mirror Ball Party Kit to create a funky, 1970's atmosphere for a party, play or dance. The mirror ball is perhaps the most recognizable lighting effect today, and the fact that so many people associate it with the party vibes of the disco era makes it possible to use the device itself as a decorative accent. This week, I'd like to explore a bit further some of the decorative possibilities for mirror balls.

Of course, the simplest choice is to simply hang a mirror ball in the center of your room and light it with several pin spots. To create the "classic" disco look, use at least two pin spots on opposite sides of the ball, and use no color on the lights. For a little variety, inexpensive colored lenses can be added to the pinspots. One technique I've been very pleased with is lighting the mirror ball with four pin spots -- two on each side -- and using complementary colors in the spots on the same side. For example, I might use a blue lens and an amber lens on one side of the ball, and green and violet on the other. The effect you get is a multitude of different-colored lights that seem to weave in and out of one another on the dance floor.

Another interesting trick is to use multiple mirror balls of different sizes in the same spot. For example, you could hang a 20" mirror ball over the center of your space, and hang 8" mirror balls around it to create a "mirror ball chandelier." Alternately, you could forgo the 20" ball altogether and use a cluster of 12", 8" and smaller mirror balls. By mounting the balls at varying heights, you create a neat lighting effect and a stunning centerpiece for your dance floor.

Hanging mirror balls at varying heights is easy. Simply mount the motor to the ceiling as usual, and then use a stiff wire or rod to connect the balls to the motor. For mirror balls 8" and smaller, a stiff wire such as a straightened coat hanger would work just fine. For the heavier mirror balls, consider using a wooden dowel or metal rod. You'll need a piece thick enough to accommodate the 1/8" hole you're going to drill through each end. Attach one end of the rod to the mirror ball, the other to the motor and you're set! When using mirror balls of varying sizes, you should make sure to purchase motors appropriate for each size. A motor for a 12" ball will overheat and burn out if you try to turn a 20" ball with it.

Of course, hanging mirror balls over the dance floor is only one possibility. Looking for decorations for your Mardi Gras bash? Why not use miniature (2" - 4") mirror balls as centerpieces on your tables? You can easily make a hanger for the mirror balls from bent heavy gauge wire; or you could purchase some pre-made hangers at a craft store. They're often used to display Christmas ornaments and decorative glass. Set a small votive candle under the ball and create a mini-disco on every table! Be sure that the hanger is tall enough to prevent heat from the candle damaging the mirror ball.

Mirror balls make great, fun decorative accessories! I've seen them used as Christmas-tree ornaments, earrings and rear-view mirror decorations just to name a few. They're an inexpensive way to liven up any gathering, all you need is a little imagination and the courage to try something new.  


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