Kitsch Gift - a Confession to Make


Introduction: Kitsch Gift - a Confession to Make

About: Please support & share our mission; . the Plant Doctor is a non-profit, open source online research laboratory specializing in electronics+plants. Our vision is to bring together...

hello everybody,

this is an ongoing side project based off of The Plant Shelf and The Plant Arm, please read them to catch up with my work. these two products are the reason why I started posting


it provides light to the room while growing a plant, it could be used as a reading light or a great night light for kids while teaching them about plants! or you can take it to work, use it in your office. can keep you company in a windowless office as a pet. don't worry about the red lights, they can be changed to cool/warm white, uv, blue, etc.


story, my most viewed instructable has a little bit of a story behind it that involves the post you are reading now. the corner coffee table you see in that previous post was too big for our new apartment and had to find a new home. i live next door to a local handmade arts & crafts store (kitsch, va). so one late night around 1am. i took the coffee table and left it at their front door with a note. as a gift, never revealing who it was from. they have been using it to display jewelry and other cool stuff inside of it for over a year now, again still not knowing it's from me :) - this is where the name of this instructable originated from. because this shelf is going to be given to them as a gift from me, this time telling them the background story and showing them the posts on here. what I really am trying to get out of this is that have them display my little gadget in their store with my homemade scannable business cards at the front, so customers can learn about instructables and i get more views! i also want to introduce them to instructables because they have classes on how to make things and i feel like they could be promoting lots of cool ideas. i will update this post once the meeting takes place.


why? the idea behind the plant shelf is to be able to grow a companion plant in your home or at work in your office. no sunlight is needed as most offices are windowless. no apartment / house is being built with the angles of the sun in mind. so my apartment gets no direct sunlight, having me to find other solutions.. plus with a more complicated setup you can actually grow food very easily !

Step 1: Frame

you will need; perforated metal sheet, flat wooden piece, 2 nails, 2 screws, 2nuts/bolts


i like to build my shelves with the plant pot to be used in mind. so choose your shape and size now and cut out a wooden plank as the bottom shelf.


then measure where you want the maximum height of the plant to be, remember the smaller the pot, the smaller the plant will keep. and since this is a very small scale plant shelf, you don't have to go too tall. in my case the height of the perforated metal sheet is; 1.5inch for bottom shelf attachment, 7inches tall and another 2 inches as the top where the lights are so total ~10.5inches and x2 for both legs.


secure the legs to the bottom wooden plank with 2 screws. and secure a flat piece of aluminium to the top, you can use another strip of perforated metal for the top as well. i just had that little rectangle piece laying around. go to your local hardware store and to the ventilation repair section. they have all sorts of little pre-cut very cheap aluimium sheet pieces. they come in handy, i used 2 nuts/bolts to secure the light bar.


at this point your shelf is ready to go on the wall and display a plant, just no lights yet. hold the frame against the wall where you want and make markings with a pencil. get a feeling of where the metal is the strongest against bending and carrying the most weight. then hammer 2 nails on each side. voila, it's ready. hang it up, sit back and take a break, now we go into some very basic electrical work.

Step 2: Electrical

this step is a bit tricky. (learn ohm's law and basic electronics). everything is wired in series. the USB 2.0 offers DC 5V and up to 500mA. the two 1W leds connected in series ask for DC min5max5.4V @350mA. so we are good.


you will need; 2 x 1W 660nm high power led, 2xusb male port, 1xusb female port, metal epoxy, thermal adhesive, heat shrink tubing, 2xwine corks.


lay out your 2 leds, put down first a small drop of thermal adhesive in the middle and make a circle around it. this should ensure both security and optimum heat travel. wait at least 15 minutes before doing any more work!


now measure how much wire you will need from the leds to the laptop imagining the wire is weaving in and out through the wholes. i decided to make two options here. first a long enough main cable that is fixed to the lights, a comfortable enough distance from the laptop (12inches) and upto the legs and lights. solder them in series leaving 2 exposed wires for usb connection, do not forget which leg is positive and negative


solder the lights to the male usb port. here is my other instructable that goes into detail on this specific step, i use this usb power source convertion all the time.! when you are facing the usb, able to see the 4 tiny metal strips (usually gold color) the one on your right is positive and left is negative.! this is how USBs are wired globally. learn more here. REMEMBER first to insert the heat shrink tubes, there is no return, don't forget like i always do... i also use wine corks to take the cable stress away. stuff some cork slices in there before you apply heat to the heat shrink tubing


you can also use the heat shrink tubing to permanently group and secure loose wires together. now go ahead and hot glue every open live connection around the leds. and you are done!


note that I have also made a usb extenstion cord so that you can hang your plant on the wall and still be able to hook it up to your computer. with the extension cable we have over ~79inches/200centimeters.


remember to only use a desktop or a laptop computer. NEVER an AC/DC usb wall charger, those go upto 1000mA and will burn your leds eventually.

Step 3: Conclusion

i have now made over 10 shelves. i must admit, it's a lot of fun and i learn something new each time. always thinking about who in the world may be reading it next....


this is my 3rd gift. you should definitely make one and give it to someone you know, preferably someone who is working in an office with no sunlight. plants clean the air and give off positive energy. they are just like any other pet, they ask for simple attention. and how much more closer can you get to a plant than with the usb on your laptop...


here is my usual personal suggestion post, enjoy and have a nice day!


please remember to subscribe if you want to stay in the loop!

love & peace




    • Woodworking Contest

      Woodworking Contest
    • Casting Contest

      Casting Contest
    • Oil Contest

      Oil Contest

    We have a be nice policy.
    Please be positive and constructive.




    I always really enjoy the videos you post at the end of your Instructables! You should try posting cool stuff like that in the forums here so more people can see them!