After reading several other instructables about making glowing creature eyes for your yard I combined several methods to come up with these. I wanted something that would be cheap, somewhat weather proof, able to be used in future Halloweens, quick and easy to build, and didn't rely on programmable electronics (I saw some really cool eyes that relied on an Arduino board). These eyes took about 10 minutes to make and used materials I had lying around the house. You may have these, too, or may need to make a few cheap purchases. Each set of eyes shouldn't cost you more than $1-2 depending on what you need to buy and when you get stuff. (Sales are our friends!)
Step 1: Materials
Required Materials (per set of eyes):
- About 8-10" of 1" PVC pipe - the low pressure kind - a 10' piece of pipe will be about $1.50 and you can get about 15 sets of eyes if you want that many
- 2 battery powered tea lights - I bought mine on clearance after last Halloween, $1.50 for 6.
- Duct tape
- Drill Bits - one larger (3/8") and one smaller (1/8")
- X-acto knife
- Spray paint (black, brown, or green)
- Bamboo garden stake, dowel rod, coat hanger, or sturdy stick
- String or fishing line
Step 2: Draw Your Eyes...
On the 8" piece of PVC draw the eyes you want to cut out. Start the eyes about 1.5" from each edge and make them 3/4" or so wide so that there is about 4-5" between the eyes. If you want to represent a larger creature you can use a longer piece of PVC and make bigger eyes a little farther apart. But make sure they are no closer to the edge than 1.5" so you have room for the light from the tea lights to diffuse a bit. I found that using the printed text on the PVC is useful for making sure that the eyes are even on the pipe. You can make the eyes any shape you want, but simpler shapes like triangles and diamonds will be easier to cut.
Step 3: Drill Out Eye Holes.
Using your larger drill bit, drill out the center of each eye. Then use the smaller bit to drill out each corner. This will make using the X-acto light a whole lot easier.
NOTE: Be sure to rest the pipe on a workbench when drilling. Don't rest it on your hand or leg, just in case the bit slips or goes through the opposite side of the PVC.
Step 4: Cut Out the Eye Holes.
Using your X-acto knife, cut out the eye holes. Place the tip of the knife into a small hole with the sharp end aimed toward the larger hole, along the line that you drew. Add pressure to the knife and it'll start to cut into the PVC. Once the blade is inserted pretty far you can lever the handle back and the blade will cut through the rest of the PVC. Repeat twice for each small hole until the entire eye is cut out. Then use the blade to trim and refine the eye holes to make sure all lines are smooth.
NOTE: X-acto knives are very sharp. Always work on a work surface, not your hand or leg. And always make sure the blade is pointed away from you. If you need to use excessive force your blade may be dull, try switching to a new blade.
Step 5: Attach Lights to Ends of Pipe.
Attach the tea lights to the ends of the pipes by wrapping a strip of duct tape around the pipe and lights. Be sure to not cover the bottoms of the tea lights where the switches are. My tea lights also have a battery compartment so I can swap batteries when these start to die out.
Step 6: Completely Wrap Pipe in Duct Tape.
The PVC will be thin enough that light will escape in the center. So you'll need to wrap the entire pipe in duct tape (at least two layers thick). Once you've wrapped the pipe test it out in the dark and see if there are any spots where light is still escaping.
Step 7: Test for Escaping Light and Cut Eye Holes in Tape.
Once the whole tube is wrapped in duct tape turn on the tea lights and check your tube in the dark for any escaping light. If there are any bright spots on the front wrap them with an additional layer of duct tape. Then use your x-acto knife to cut out the tape over the eye holes.
OPTIONAL: Light may escape out the sides of the tube, through the bottoms of the tea lights. You don't want to cover the bottoms permanently because you'll need to access the switches and maybe the battery compartment, but if there is too much light escaping you can try to cover the ends with a loose piece of tape and cardboard.
Step 8: Set Up the Lights in Your Yard!
Congratulations, you're done! Now it's time to set up the lights in your yard. Depending on where and how you want to set them up you may want to do a few additional, optional steps. As it gets dark you can turn the tea lights on at the switches and enjoy having a haunted landscape!
1. Paint the tubes - you may want to paint the tubes black, brown, or green depending on how well camouflaged you want them to be. In the dark the duct tape is pretty well hidden in foliage, but during the day the tubes are pretty obvious.
2. Hang the tubes - if you plan on hanging the tubes from branches you can tie a piece of string to both ends and then hang the tubes.
3. Mount the tubes on a stick or wire - you can mount the tubes on bamboo garden steaks, dowel rods, or coat hanger wire and then steak them in between your bushes. If you use a garden steak or dowel rod you can either duct tape the tube onto the steak, or drill a hole big enough to fit the steak/rod in the bottom of the tube, centered between the eyes. Just drill through the bottom half and the tube can rest right on top of the steak. Cut or break the steak so it is the desired length (figuring about 8-12" for inserting into the ground). If you use coat hanger wire, straighten the wire, wrap one end of it around the tube once or twice to hold the tube securely, then push the other end into the ground.