This project is SUPER EASY. I had never soldered or worked with LEDs prior to making this.

For this year's costume, I really wanted to make LED eyelashes since I just discovered tiny surface-mounted LEDs (SMD LEDs) - normally they are used on circuit boards

After doing some research, I found Soomi Park's version. While Soomi's design is pretty amazing, I wanted mine to be worn on the top lashes and have an almost continuous line of LEDs. To do this, I used 0805 SMD LEDs (2.00 x 1.25 x 1.1 mm) instead of the regular sized 3 mm. Not only can they be spaced closer together, they are also very lightweight.

Here's a materials list:

Stranded wire (typical wire used in electronics) ***UPDATE*** Look for 0.2 mm enameled wire instead
28 or more 0805 SMD LEDs of any color
Water-soluble glue (Elmer's glue/PVA glue)
MDF or wood for the template
Coin battery
Battery holder
Shrink tubes
Surface mounted switch (optional)
Resistors (optional)


Soldering iron
Wire stripper/cutter
Soldering stand with alligator clips (optional)
Laser cutter (optional)
Tweezers (optional)

Thanks to my very knowledgeable and able co-worker Davey Taylor who was willing to teach me everything I needed to know about working with LEDs.

To see how I made the paper fangs, check out the Grotesque Paper Fangs Instructable.

Step 1: Make a Template

Use the attached template and laser engrave your MDF at least 3 times to make the holes deep enough. Apply a thin line of glue and fill the holes. Using tweezers, make sure to place your LEDs with the polarities in the same direction and wait for the glue to dry a bit.

While a laser cut template is easier, you don't need a laser cutter for this part. You can print the template on stiff paper and glue the individual LEDs down. The goal is to make sure that the LEDs do not move while soldering.

The template is curved to accommodate the curve of the eyelid. If you solder them straight, they will not sit on your eyelash properly - once they are soldered into place, you will not be able to bend the curve except in the "z-axis" direction.

Step 2: Twisting the Wire and Preparing the LEDs

Taking a piece of multi-strand wire, strip off about 12 cm (5 in). Bend down all but two strands. Pinching the two exposed wires, twist the other wire until it becomes a tight helix. This method is the best way to get a really tight and uniform twisted wire. Make 4 of these.

Using your soldering iron and coat the twisted wire with a light coat of solder. After that, put a tiny bead of solder on each of the ends of the LEDs. This will make things easier to solder together later.

***UPDATE*** Look for enameled wire .2 mm thickness. Enameled wire is insulated, thin copper wire that you can TWIST together to make a thin pair of wires to power the LEDs.

To solder them, make a bead of solder and press the wire down and pull it through the bead. This will melt the insulating coating and allow conductivity.

Step 3: Soldering the LEDs

Bend the wire slightly to match the curve of the LEDs. Using tweezers, grab the wire and place it next to one of the LEDs. Press the point of the iron quickly against the bead of solder to adhere the wire. Blow on it to cool it quickly and move to the next LED. Make sure to press the wire as close to the LED as possible. (This part can be tricky, so have patience. Ask a friend to help hold down the wire if needed.)

When you have soldered everything, quickly run the iron over the wire to remove any large globs of solder. Test the connections using the coin battery to light it up.

Snip the leading ends of the wire as close as possible. Use a bead of solder to dull any sharp points.

Step 4: Removing the LED Strips

Place a few drops of water on the LED strips.  Rub it gently and wait for it to soak in. Using a pair of tweezers to gently lift it from the template. Be careful not to bend or weaken the wire. It is pretty strong, but the wire will pull apart if tugged hard.

Step 5: Preparing the Wire

Measure a length of wire from one temple to the other around the back of your head and add about 20 cm (8 in) more. Open a section of the wire sheathing at the middle by gently using the wire cutter to push apart a section. Cut another piece about 35 cm (14 in). Strip the ends of the wires. 

Solder one of the ends of the longer wire to the middle of the shorter one. Cover the connection in with shrink tubing. Solder the other end of the long wire to the battery holder. Do this twice for the positive and negative points.

Twist the end wires together and use shrink tubing to secure. Use shrink tubing to make a necklace for the button. 

Optionally, you can add a flat surface-mounted button to short circuit the power which turns off the LEDs. It's a quick fix, but it works. I didn't use a resistor, but I suppose you could if you wanted to use a bigger battery. Two button cell batteries will last for most of the evening, so I didn't really want to bother.

Step 6: Solder the LED Strips to the Wires

Clip the wires on the LED strips to about 10 cm (4 in), just enough to reach the corner of your eyes from your temples, but not so little that it touches the skin (bend them slightly away from your skin since sweat might short circuit the connection).

Insert the coin battery and test which ends of the wire to solder to the LED strip. Finally, solder them together and your'e done!

To wear them, use either wig glue or spirit gum to adhere the wires to your temples. Then, use eyelash glue to adhere the LED strips to your lashes. 

Here's how they look when you press the button to turn them off. A neat thing about it turning on is that it actually takes a second or more to get to full brightness. 

Step 7: The Final Look

Had a great time at my annual Halloween party. Lots of people liked it, and that makes me feel great as it's my first attempt at making something like this. 

I'm including a few other pics I took with people so you can take a look at how great their costumes were, as well. The theme was Grotesque Burlesque and my costume was "conceptual porcupine" for the animal menagerie (though I probably look more like an evil, rabid version of Sonic the Hedgehog).

NOTE: It is kind of difficult to see with these on. My initial tests didn't have much of a problem, but perhaps it was because I only tested one eye (the other eye probably compensated for the blinding light). When wearing these, it looks as if everything is fogged up. Walking with them on can be dangerous if you are walking in the dark on bumpy streets. I ran into a post fence not having seen it. :P 

In regular light, you can see as normal.

<p>Hi, can you send a link to what type of stranded wire you recommend? Thanks!</p>
Use 0.2 mm enameled wire. It's thin and insulated, so you can use a power drill to twist two strands together. <br><br>It's not hard to find - it's used to make electromagnets and in motors. Similarly, you can dissect a motor to find one, though I've never done that.
<p>Hi, do you need to scrape the enamel bit off on the connection point for soldering to make it conductive? Thanks!</p>
<p>Here's what I do - Use a flat edged soldering tip and gather a large bead of solder. Press the enamel wire under the soldering tip and then pull the enamel wire.</p><p>The pressure and heat from the soldering iron should be enough to make a thin coat. Make sure when you are pulling, you draw the wire through the bead of solder so that it is coated.</p>
<p>Awesome project, love the smaller LEDs!</p>
After the party just fit these strips to a spectacle frame and you have an instant hands free torch to work in tight corners. Did the leds not blind you?
They do blind you when it is super dark, but in normal light, it's not bad at all. It could also have been the way I put them on. <br> <br>I'm definitely thinking of what I can do with these SMD LEDs - I ordered a huge batch from China and am excited to experiment. :) Wanted to make light-up glasses among other things.
Very nicely done, congrats! How toasty did they get with continual use ?
To be honest, not at all. When I first experimented with one, it got a bit warm, but never uncomfortably so. When I actually wore them on Halloween, I never noticed the warmth at all. Perhaps it was because it was cold outside, but I never even felt it warm. It's very low heat if anything.
Really nice work (again!!) Pretty sweet there was no heat issue.
Very nicely done, congrats! How toasty did they get with continual use ?
du skulle nog kunna cosplaya Ryuuk fr&aring;n deathnote r&auml;tt s&aring; bra, just sayin :D
Hahahaha! Totally! I didn't even think about it until now. Too funny.<br> <br>
Looks awesome!
Oh, the look is worth the bruises!
I can't say that I was very sober while walking... so that might have attributed to me running into things. I navigated the party and later the nightclub alright. :P

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm a designer - I started off working with commercial Architecture/Interior design and transitioned through to Graphic, Product, and Industrial Design. I love making ... More »
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