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Inspiration Board : The New Year's Eve Ball

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historyBall Image courtesy of the New York Times.

With the New Year around the corner, I thought it appropriate to discuss the main event—the New Year's Eve ball. I’ve always wondered why people in New York choose to stand in Times Square in the freezing cold on New Year's, surrounded by thousands of people, just to watch the ball drop. Upon taking a closer look at the ball itself, I’ve come to realize its ornate design and technologically advanced craftsmanship form something that is truly beautiful to look at.

The current New Year's Eve Ball looks quite different from the image above, taken in 1907. The first ball was made of iron and wood and adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. To honor its 100th anniversary a few years back, lighting designer Paul Gregory and the team at Focus Lighting were faced with the challenge of updating the ball's design using LED technology.

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Image courtesy of the New York Times.

1 Image courtesy of the New York Times.

The LED shines within each triangular crystal tile.

2 The LED shines within each triangular crystal tile.

Thumbnail drawings of various ball animations. The ball features 672 individual crystal triangles that are each backlit by 12 LEDs—three red, green, blue, and white.

3 Thumbnail drawings of various ball animations. The ball features 672 individual crystal triangles that are each backlit by 12 LEDs—three red, green, blue, and white.

Mirrored baffles divide the colors and create an exaggerated look. Diagrams courtesy of Focus Lighting.

4 Mirrored baffles divide the colors and create an exaggerated look. Diagrams courtesy of Focus Lighting.

Assembling the LED triangles. Image courtesy of New York Daily News.

5 Assembling the LED triangles. Image courtesy of New York Daily News.

Today, the six-foot-diameter ball weighs about 1,100 pounds.

6 Today, the six-foot-diameter ball weighs about 1,100 pounds.

The colored patterns are endless and so beautiful.

7 The colored patterns are endless and so beautiful.

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Although the new ball is spectacular, I have a fondness for the older, simpler version. It reminds me of the beautiful simplicity of the Outdoor Lighting story from the December issue of Living.

9 Although the new ball is spectacular, I have a fondness for the older, simpler version. It reminds me of the beautiful simplicity of the Outdoor Lighting story from the December issue of Living.

Comments (3)

  • Thank you for showing all the technology that has gone into this. I'm not a New Yorker, but I appreciate the craftsmanship that was required to make New Year's Eve a spectacular one.

    And if anyone asks, I prefer this Ball to the one they intend to drop in New Jersey with That Woman in it.

  • [...] you stay up each year to watch the New Year’s eve ball drop in Time Square? Don’t miss this Inspiration Board from the Martha Stewart Crafts Dept. with a photo slideshow of the ball’s unique [...]

  • One of these days, I want them to go back to the old way, just to pay homage to the original. Sometimes, not everything needs to be updated.

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