Introduction: Batman Multi-Layered Glass Cordless LED Night Light
I've always loved this cover of Frank Miller's "Batman The Dark Knight Returns" graphic novel not to mention the book itself was awesome! I tried to make a large version once before but felt like it was missing something; the LED lights I added just weren't right and the overall piece was way too big. So I came up with this version instead which in my opinion is 100 times cooler.
* I did not expect the IR sensor for the remote control to work through all the layers of paint and glass but it did!
5 - 8x10 glass frames from the Dollar Store
LED strip light from Five Below
Power Bank from Five Below
Spray Paint Various Colors
1x4x6 foot long wood board
Hot Glue Gun
Drill or Drill Press
3/4 inch screws
Micro Fiber Towel
Aluminum Foil Tape
The power bank and LED light strips I purchased from a store named Five Below for $5 each, they are both 5V so they will work together. I purchased the five 8x10 picture frames from the dollar store. The first thing I did was remove the glass from the frames.
*Edit: I fully charged the power bank and tested how long the final piece stayed lit and it lasted more than 6 hours, which is better than I thought it would do.
The first piece of glass I painted "Oxford Blue" (I show all the paints I used for this in the next step) the goal here is not to cover the entire piece of glass with paint. I just misted the paint on to add some heavier and lighter areas. The third pic shows that the paint is still somewhat translucent. On this piece I did put a good coat of paint along all four edges as this will be the piece that is closest to the LED lights so I wanted to make sure it concealed the LED lights somewhat. If I did not do this then you would be able to see the shape/reflection of the LED light bulbs. By putting down a heavier coat of paint about 1/2 inch all along the perimeter of the glass will serve to diffuse the LED lights.
The next glass pane I painted "Island Splash" and again here I just lightly misted the paint on you want an uneven coat.
These are the paints I used Purple, Oxford Blue and Iris all went on one glass pane, the one that will be closest to the LED lights. I tried to create some shadows and lighter areas by misting the paint on to the glass. There really is no wrong way to apply this just don't lay down any heavy coats the goal is to create depth by having uneven coats of paint.
The second to the last glass pane I painted Island Splash and sprayed the center of it white. Again just a light dusting to create a highlight in the background for what would be the lighting bolt.
Next it was time to create a stencil to mask off the lightning bolt area. I laid down several strips of blue masking tape on my cutting mat then I taped the image of the lighting bolt to the cutting mat over the blue tape. Then I used my razor knife to cut out the shape of the lighting bolt leaving me with a masking that I can use to paint the next pane of glass.
I tried to repeat this step for the silhouette of Batman but I wasn't successful, I will talk about this more in a later step.
With the masking cut I used a pencil to make some reference marks on the tape seams so that I can transfer the masking tape over to the glass. Once I moved the masking tape stencil over I made sure to cover the exposed areas of the glass and spray painted it white. I let it dry and then removed the blue tape.
Here I stacked all the glass panes on top of one another to see what the final result might look like; its a little hard to see in the photos but the second and third pics are different. The third pic has the darkest colored glass pane while the second pic does not.
This quick test boosted my confidence because I could see that the multiple layers were adding depth to the final piece.
Here I am showing you the results of a bad masking job. The paint peeled with the removal of the blue tape and ruined the silhouette image. The good news is that Acetone will completely remove spray paint. So I removed all the paint and cleaned the glass with glass cleaner so I could re-use it.
Instead of trying to make another blue tape stencil I decided to use my vinyl cutter and cut out the silhouette. I used a paper print out of the lighting bolt to help me position the silhouette in the right spot on the fourth pane of glass and applied the vinyl decal of the silhouette. The last pic is another quick test but this time with LED lights to see how the piece is coming along.
I realize most people don't have a vinyl cutter but its not too hard to find someone selling custom vinyl graphics like these online or in your local area. I have included the two separate images of the lightning bolt and the Batman silhouette incase you want to make this too.
With all the painting done now it was time to move on to the box that will hold all the layers of glass. I used my table saw to cut five 1/8 inch kerfs (the thickness of the saw blade) in a 1x4 board. Then I used my table saw to make multiple passes and make a 1/2 inch wide kerf or groove this will be the recess for the LED light strip.
Next I moved on to making the miter cuts. The short pieces measured 7-1/2 inches on the inside measurement (the shorter side of the board) and the long pieces measured 9-1/2 inches on the inside measurement. I cut two of each to make a box.
After cutting the four pieces I did a quick test fit of the glass to make sure they all fit with a little room to spare. I didn't want the glass to be tight inside the frame. Then I sanded all the wood pieces with 220 grit sandpaper and wiped off any dust.
I used wood glue and a nail gun with 1 inch brads to attach three of the four pieces. I left the fourth piece off because I wanted to paint it before final assembly. Leaving one side open made painting it easier.
I made sure to tape off the exposed miters that would later be glued so that they wouldn't get spray paint on them. Then I sprayed all the pieces Oxford Blue making sure to get inside all the grooves. Once the paint dried I removed the blue tape.
Before assembling the piece I made sure thoroughly clean all the glass. Once its nailed together there is no going back so I made sure each piece was as clean as it could be.
Next I assembled the piece and slid in each pane of glass in to position. I used rubber gloves for this so I wouldn't dirty the glass.
Then I added some glue to the miters and brad nailed the last wood piece in place.
This is the piece before adding the lights. The camera really doesn't do a good job of picking up on the depth of the multiple layers but in person it is a nice effect.
I decided to use some 1/4 backer board to make the back cover. I cut it so it was slightly undersized but still covered the entire back of the piece. Originally I tried to paint the inside of the back panel white but the paint didn't really work on the rough surface of the backer board so I added reflective foil tape instead. The blue tape you see was just to give me a rough idea of where to apply the foil tape.
I would need a hole for the USB plug to pass through so I drilled a 5/8 inch hole in the corner. I also pre-drilled all the screw holes that would hold the panel in place. I figured it would be better to make the back panel removable in case the LED lights stop working and I need to replace them I would still be able to access them by unscrewing the back panel.
Now it was time to glue the LED light strip in place but first I hot glued the IR sensor in place. The IR sensor sits right at the top edge of the groove where the LED lights will be glued in to place. In that position the remote control to turn the lights on and off will still work.
Almost done, I just had to pre-drill for all the screws that will secure the back panel to the frame and then screw the back panel in place. Make sure to pull the USB plug for the LED lights through the hole in the back panel first. With the back panel secure I used some Velcro to attach the power bank to the back panel. This needs to be removable so that it can be recharged. I also used some black tape to cover up the hole where the USB plug comes out of the back panel so there wouldn't be any light bleeding out from the back.
That's it now you just have to find a place to put the final piece. The first pic shows what the piece looks like with out the LED lights on and the second shows what it looks like with the lights on.
I'm really happy with how this turned out I feel like it was a redemption of sorts. I could see using this to make a multilayered landscape with a single bulb to mimic a sunset or a sunrise. Or perhaps a multi-layered space theme or galaxy scape. There are a lot of possibilities that I think would look pretty cool. Thanks for taking a look I hope you like this project as much as I did! If you have any questions please feel free to ask and I will do my best to answer them.
Participated in the
Glass Speed Challenge