I was given a art grant and was able to squeeeeeeeze in just under budget. The finished project had 3000 LEDs that were barely (but successfully!) driven by an Arduino Mega using the FastLED library and doing some color swapping.
LEDs sourced from the famous Raymond Wu on AliExpress and shipped 3 month literal slow boat from china.
Each ring was 6' in diameter and detached to travel on its own. I made 12 rings so that if any ring failed we could unplug it and just throw a working one on in its place. Luckily we had no failure!
Rings were made with LEDs being zip tied to metal poles that were shoved into vinyl tubing, bent in a sphere and bolted together. I wrapped athletic tape around the tubing to diffuse the LED, a time consuming and somewhat sticky method that actually looked -great- when completed.
The biggest takeaway I left the project with was this: it's way easier to make LED strips shorter, not longer! 5m LED strips = 16.xx feet in lengths, while 6 foot diameter = 18.8x feet in length. Hand soldering these extra 2 feet on was a ton of easily avoidable work. Next time, make them just a liiiiiitle bit shorter, and save a TON of work.