Introduction: Glowing Plastic Spoon Tulips!!!
Have you ever noticed that the head of a spoon is almost the perfect shape for a tulip petal? Have you ever wanted to make something for someone special that would light up their life? Have you ever wanted to make something extraordinary from something ordinary?
I have... The above was a gift I made for some super special people in my life... I originally took these pictures for my own reference and not to make an instructable so some of the steps might not be clear.... Ask a question and I'll try to answer if anything is unclear. Note I do not provide instructions on how to wire LEDs as there are plenty of other places (instructables) to learn this....Enjoy.
Step 1: Tulip Petals From Plastic Spoon Heads
Each tulip has 6 petals. Depending upon the plastic spoons you have, you may need to round off the end a little to make it look cute. I recommend making a prototype out of one spoon and then using it to trace around the others so that all the petals will be of similar size.
Cut the heads off the spoons so that they end in a slight point. I normally follow the curve of the spoon edge in on both sides.
Tip: Plastic spoons are made out of differing materials, some are harder to cut than others. Try and find softish, flexible spoons... Before I buy them I look for ones that are fairly flexible and thin.
Step 2: Sticking the Petals Together
The tulip has 3 petals on the inside and then another three surrounding on the outside. To join the three inner spoons together, use a temperature adjustable soldering iron set to low (150 degrees celcius) to melt the edges together as per the picture shown. I usually use heaps of blutak to stick two petals to my desk with the edges aligned. Then I run the soldering iron slowly along the join. The plastic should melt and fuse together. With the third petal, I then stand the tulip head down on the table, add the petal (using heaps of blutak then run the soldering iron down that edge too.
To add the three outer petals, I use a dab of clear construction adhesive (shelly's liquid nails) on the join between the two inner petals then stick the outer petal so that the joins on the inner petals are centered on the outer petal (see pic)
Once the glue is dry, make a hole for the stem in the bottom of the flower head. I use a slightly larger soldeing iron head and have it on about (250 degrees celcius). If you push straight down it should melt a nice hole into the flower. The hole must be big enough to fit a balloon stick in but not to big otherwise the flower head will just slip once it is on the stick. It takes a little experimenting to work out the right size.
Some plastics when heated will char, try to get spoons made with plastic that will melt rather than char. Not sure if it's a coincidence or not but the more flexible spoons melted better than the thicker more ridgid ones.
The points of the petals need to align (at the bottom of the flower head). This helps the flower head to flare a little and gives the illusion of a slightly open tulip head.
When melting the edges of the petals together, if you only have a non adjustable soldering iron that is really hot then run the tip of the iron along the edge in a quick motion so that you don't melt all the way through.
Conversly, it is better to have a hot iron to melt the hole for the stem. What I do is I heat up my non adjustable soldering iron, then switch it off. Before, it cools too much I insert it into the point where all the petals meet. and then leave it there until it cools. The plastic will reharden around the soldering iron. If you twist the iron as you insert the iron, the melted plastic will spread and help fuse all outer and inner petals together. If you pull the iron out too early, you will end up with jagged plastic spikes (right hand pic). However, if you let the iron cool and then twist it out you will be left with a neater hole.
Step 3: Colouring the Tulip Heads.
It is now time to paint your tulip heads. Insert a balloon stick into the hole you made in the last step. I recommend spray painting as opposed to painting with a brush. Also, you will need to use translucent paint. I found a nice one for stain glass windows but the colours were limited. I ended up using a hobby spray paint called "Tamiya translucent spray paint" comes in a lot of nice colours. rotate the balloon stick and head as you spray paint to achieve an even coating. Allow to dry. The pic shown is what NOT to do. The purple one is normal spray paint, light wont shine through... The red one in the middle was painted with a tissue dabbed in translucent paint... not a good look. and the last was blue translucent spray paint with 2 coats applied, you can see the second coat caused the paint to run and look blotchy.
Reuse the same balloon stick when spray painting the heads so that you don't waste your other ones.
Only spray one nice coat of paint. Two coats risks the paint running.... It takes practice, try it out on a few uncut spoons first.
Step 4: Nicely Coloured Tulips.
Here's a pic of some well painted flower heads. Additionally to protect the paint from chipping off if the flower heads accidentally bump into one another (happened to me alot) you can spray on some clear varnish (I use krylon crystal clear) Make sure you only do one very light coat at a time and allow to dry completely before applying another. I sprayed and allowed to dry overnight and ended up doing two coats. Note the balloon sticks used were already green. You can get these from most party supply stores or they can be ordered online. You get about 2 to 3 stems from one ballon stick depending on how short you cut them. Balloon sticks are good because they are hollow and you can pass wire down through them. Also, they are rigid enough to support the weight of the flower heads.
Step 5: Attaching the Stems
In order to prevent the tulip heads from slipping all the way down the balloon sticks, use your soldering iron on it's lowest setting to lightly melt the end of the stem which the head is going to stick onto. If you melt little grroves into the balloon stick you will be able to put construction adhesive into the grooves to hold the tulip head. Also, the plastic you displace by making the grooves can be used to make a little ring surrounding the stick upon which the head can rest and prevents it from moving any further down the stick. Once the grooves are made, attach the balloon stick with a small amount of adhesive in the grooves created. Remember to cut your stems to size before you attach them.
To cut the balloon sticks without squashing the end, score the cut with a sharp knife, then simply snap them with slight pressure. You should get a clean cut this way without warping the end of the balloon stick.
Step 6: Wire Up Some LEDs
Next, you need to wire up some LEDs to put into your tulip heads. I used super bright white LEDs (4.8mm white wide angle LEDs purchased from ledsales.com.au). Note the resistor is attached to the bottom. The resistor you use will depend on the power supply you eventually use. There are some good online calculators to help you work out what you need. In my case, I just asked the LED seller, he was really good.
I won't go into how to wire up an LED here as there is heaps of info out on the web on how to do this. Plus I don't think my technique is that great.... My tip is to watch a lot of youtube videos on how to do this.
Before inserting the LED into the tulip you need to glue on a small piece of foil or similar to the top of the LED. This will help you prevent accidentally blinding the receipient of your present if they accidentally look into the top of the flower when the LEDs are on.
Pass the wires down through the tulip head and balloon stick and out the other end. The LED should be slightly bigger than the tulip head so it will stop when it hits the top of the balloon stick. Repeat for all the other flowers.
Step 7: Flower Arranging.
Preparation is the key when flower arranging.
I like it when the flowers tend to originate from almost the same spot in the pot and flare outwards. To achieve this, I used an balloon tie and inverted it with a small length of balloon stick attached. A small bit of foam was then shaped so that the flowers would sit around the foam and flare outwards. I then attached the flowers one by one using electrical tape until I was happy with the arrangement.
Cut a piece of clear perspex in the shape of the top of the flower pot you are going to use. Most plastic pot liners have a small groove around the top. If you cut the perspex to this size, it will eventually sit in this groove without falling further into the pot. Drill/melt holes where the stems will appear. Unwrap the flowers, insert them into the perspex and then reattach them to your stand. Collect all the wires and neaten them by plaiting them together and soldering the ends together into one long wire.
Wire up some more LEDs and attach them to the stems 'under' the clear perspex. These will light up your pot. Liberal use of white electrical tape and clear adhesive was used to achieve this.
Step 8: Test the Connections!
At this point you can test your connections by hooking it up to your power supply. My power supply was purchased from the same person who sold me the LEDs. (12 volt DC 1.5A switchmode plugpack). This step helps to ensure you have wired up everything correctly.
Once everything is tested attach some thicker wire to the ends (both the flower LEDs and the Pot LEDs are attached to the same wires). You should end up with two wires, one positive and one negative. These wires will be eventually attached to the power pack.
Try and get a power pack with interchangable connectors.
Try to use wires the same colour as the wires on your power pack (usually black) this will ensure everything looks consistent.
Step 9: Preparing the Pot!
The Pot I used was called "Jelly Planters with attached matching saucer". Got it from my local hardware store (Bunnings for those of you living in Australia). The link to the company website is: http://www.day1.com.au/classic.php.
The good thing about these pots are:
- They are made from translucent plastic - So light will shine through
- They have an attached saucer, to provide stability to the base (and hide your wires)
- They have a white plastic liner on the inside (to hide all the stems and wires from showing through the pot)
- They are pretty!!!
I wanted the name of the recipient to appear on the pot when it was lit so using the inner plastic liner I used a paint marker to black out most of the pot on the inside whilst leaving their name written backwards. To achieve this I used a stencil created in MS Word and printed out. I then stuck this onto some painters masking tape with severall layers of the masking tape on top. Then cutting out the letters with a sharp knife. Once that was done, I could peel back one or two layers of the masking tape and stick it on the inside of the pot. I was then a matter of colouring in around the masking tape stencil with a black paint marker.
Detach the saucer from the pot in preparation for the addition of the wires.
Use a 'paint' marker if possible. Normal permanent markers will fade with time apparently. Paint ones are supposed to be better and provide complete block out of the light.
Step 10: Finishing Off the Flowers
Pass the two wires from step 8 through one of the drainage holes in the white plastic liner which you stenciled. then glue the base of the tulips to the base of the liner, ensuring the perspex cut out sits on the groove in the top of the pot. You can then pass the wires through the drainage holes in the translucent outer layer of the pot. Then reattach the saucer. Sit the white liner with the tulips back into the pot.
Sorry, but I forgot to take a picture of this part so you'll just have to use your imagination.
The two separate wires can then be fused with a little gentle heat from your soldering iron. Same technique as used in step 2. They were then attached to a connection plug end to match the power pack. This allows the for switches or a light sensor to be created and attached at a a later date. It also, provides a neater join than soldering directly onto the power pack. Further, the tulips can be displayed without being pluged in and having messy power packs being attached, if you want to feature them without plugging them in.
Leaves were cut out using green plastic disposable table cloth (Available from party supply stores). Use a couple of layers and stick them between clear packing tape. Then, using your soldering iron on low, run the iron along the length of the leaves to both add texture and to fuse all the layers of table cloth together. I found that the packing tape had a much higher melting point that the table cloth so it was easy to melt the cloth without ruining the protective covering provided by the tape. The tape also provides rigity to the leaves to help hold their shape. Attach the leaves to the stems of the tulips and use more clear tape and adhesive to hold them in place.
The top of the perspex was covered with acrylic pebbles from the local hardware store. and glued in place.
The pebbles were a little too translucent and you could see all the wires through them. To get around this I put a layer of them on baking paper and stuck them in the oven on a low temperature (about 150 degrees celcius I think). Keep an eye on the pebbles they will start to form little air bubbles which lightens their colour and makes them less see through. Also, by slightly melting them, the sharp corners on the pebbles were removed thereby making them safer.
Step 11: The Final Product!
That's it! Your beautiful flowers are already to be given.
Extra things you could add include:
- a switch to turn them on or off
- a light sensor (lack of light sensor) so they turn on automatically at night
This project took me about 9 months to complete due to not knowing what to do and having to spend time researching etc... (and due to my tendancies to procrastinate)
The time and effort put into them mean that something like this should only be done for super special people!!
Hope you like it!
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