Introduction: Creative Switch Fairy Tree
I'm going to show you how to create this glowing fairy tree. The switch is the fairy herself, and the lights will turn on if she is placed in her spot, and off again if she is moved.
TIP: The glow is not seen well in the light, so turn it on in the dark or low light for the best results.
- A wooden circle and smaller pieces of wood
- Pipe cleaners (x7)
- Brown duct tape
- Wires (red and black)
- Electrical tape
- 5 LED lights (x4 Green, x1 Red)
- Resistor (100 ohms)
- 9V battery
- 9v battery pack
- Conductive tape
- Small wooden figurine
- Modeling clay
- Faux foliage/plants
- Green string
- Fast-drying adhesive (i.e. glue gun/crazy glue)
- Acrylic paint
- Glow in the dark glue
- Fine glitter
- Screws (large and thin)
Step 1: Prepare the Base
First, prepare the base. Using your screwdriver and screws, make 2 holes in the wooden circle - one larger, and one smaller, like so.
Step 2: Elevate the Base
Next, elevate the base by attaching wooden pieces of the same height onto one side. Make sure there's plenty of room for your battery underneath. (I sawed apart a small wooden box for this)
Step 3: Begin the Tree
Now start forming the tree. With six pipe cleaners as the exterior frame, use the seventh (cut and formed into circles) to guide their form along the base. I found it easiest to simultaneously work with the duct tape to keep the pipe cleaners in place. Wrap the brown duct tape around the trunk until you begin to separate the main branches, but don't close the holes into the hollow trunk.
Step 4: Outline the Shapes
Skipping back to the base, take your fairy figurine and outline her base around the smaller hole, but make sure the hold isn't exactly centered. You need space for the conductive tape. Do the same for the tree trunk over the larger hole.
Step 5: Create a Hole
Now take your screwdriver and make a hole in the side of the tree trunk that will be closest to the fairy's position. This will be where the negative wire comes out to connect to the figure and form the switch.
Step 6: Insert the Positive Wire
Next, take a red wire and insert it through one of the two branches formed, and down and out the trunk. This is your positive wire.
Step 7: Convert to Black
Carefully cut and strip the end of the red wire and attach it to a black one. From here on out we'll be using the black wire to camouflage the wires among the trees, because some will be exposed.
Step 8: Continue to Branch Out
Using the duct tape, continue creating that first branch, then branch off again to create a second branch on this main one. We're going to want four main branch offs total, two on each of the branches that split from the trunk. Remember to tape the black wire along with the pipe cleaners, but free it before branching out into the final branches. Cut and strip the exposed wire, and attach it to the anode (positive/longer leg) of your first green LED. Make sure you attach it to the positive leg and not the cathode, the negative/shorter leg.
Step 9: Create Your Negative Wire
Now take the black wiring and put it through the other main branch, and out through the hole made in the trunk. This is the wire for the negative end of our circuit and will be ultimately connected to the fairy figurine.
Step 10: Continue the Second Branch
Use the duct tape to build the other main branch, hiding the negative wire inside it. Remember to also divide this branch into two other main ones, like the other side of the tree. Finish these two branches, and like the positive wire, make sure the negative wire is hanging out before the ends of the branches, preferably where you want to place your last LED.
Step 11: Continue Wiring the Lights
Go back to the first green LED, and attach the black wiring to the cathode, the shorter leg of the light. Don't cut the hanging wire yet. Make sure all of your branches are taped up and done, and the negative wire's end is still exposed.
Step 12: Lights, Continued
By now, all of the branches should be finished, and you should have 1 LED in place with wiring hanging from the negative leg and 1 wire sticking out of a different branch. Continue to add the other 3 LEDs, going in a zig-zag between the four branches. The end of the first LED, the wire attached to the cathode, should be attached to the next LED's anode (positive/longer leg). This should be true for all for LEDs. Once you attach the wire to the positive side of the fourth green LED, put your black wiring away.
Step 13: Complete the Lights
Cut and strip the dangling negative wire on the last branch, then attach it to the cathode of the last green LED. You've completed the lights. Pause here and make sure you did these steps correctly, starting with the positive leg of the first LED, and pairing the negative leg with the next positive leg. The last exposed negative leg should be attached to your negative wire, the one whose end is still poking out of the hole at the base of the tree trunk.
Step 14: Red LED and Resistor
Add the red LED and the resistor to the end of the red wire, the positive wire. The resistor should be attached to the LED, not the red wire.
Step 15: Attaching the Tree to the Base
Tape the tree down to the base. It will be a trial and error to figure out how much tape is needed (I ended up having to nail down the tree on one side) so don't be afraid to get creative. Attach the negative wire to the bottom of the fairy using conductive tape. (If you plan on adding grass, begin coloring the top of the base green.)
Step 16: Prepare the Battery Pack
Trim the black wire (negative wire) to be about 2.5 inches long, and the red wire (positive wire) to be about 4 inches long. Then strip about a centimeter off the ends. Put the battery in the pack, and remember to keep the pack switched to off. You don't want to hurt yourself!
Step 17: Negative Wire
Thread the negative wire of the battery pack through the thin hole by the fairy. If you need to shorten the wire, do so, but remember to strip the end again and place it on the base, sealing it down with conductive tape.
Step 18: Positive Wire
Attach the positive wire of the battery pack to the resistor. Again, trim the wire as needed. Then tape down the battery pack to keep it from moving or falling out.
At this point, check to make sure the lights work. If you need to make modifications, now's the time to do so, before we move on to the decoration. From here on out, everything is optional and subject to personalization, but here is my personal process:
Step 19: Grass
After making sure the lights worked, I added faux grass onto the top of the base, going around the fairy and the tree. I then added drops of glow-in-the-dark glue to look like stars.
Step 20: Plant Life
Around the base, I added handmade fungus and plants, as well as faux plants used for landscape modeling. The fungus and plants were made of modeling clay, painted with acrylic paint and coated with glowing glue for some extra pizzazz in the dark. I also coated the fairy's wings with the glue.
TIP: Use fast-drying adhesive for these steps. It saves a lot of time and effort.
Step 21: Vines and Lanterns
After completing the base, I moved up to the branches, starting by wrapping the wires in green string and hiding them among other "vines." I also hung three lanterns, also made with modeling clay, painted, and decorated with glowing glue.
Step 22: Foliage
Finally, I added faux foliage, also made for model landscapes.
TIP: Go easy on the foliage around the LEDs. The thicker it is, the harder it will be to see the lights.
Step 23: Final Touches
I checked for any other modifications I needed to make, and when I decided it was complete, I dusted it with golden glitter. It's a fairy tree, after all!
Now, turn off the lights and watch your tree glow!