Introduction: Glowing Onions

Don’t let pumpkins have all the fun, get some glow in your other veg!

My daughter left her disco finger-lights in the kitchen next to an onion and lo! The onion light was born. Ridiculously simple, surprisingly pretty.

Step 1: Get Yourself a Pleasingly-shaped Onion

Big ones are best, you’ll get more onion lights out of them. Try asking for ‘pub onions’ in a greengrocers, where I live this got me some of the most mahoosive onions I have ever seen, pubs like them big for mass-catering and super-size onion rings. Mmmm… onions.

Step 2: Slice & Chill

Slice your onion in half as neatly as you can. A scarily-big, sharp knife is best for this.

Leave your onion halves in the fridge overnight, this lets them dry out a bit so you can prise the layers apart and if they’re chilled you’ll cry less! The longer you leave them, the easier they are to separate.

Step 3: Onion Surgery

Use a small sharp knife (I used a craft knife) to score around the root.

Working from the top (what was the leafy end) gently ease the top layer of the onion off. You’ll probably have to discard the top one or two as you need a layer with thick enough sides to glue together, if they’re paper thin they’ll collapse. You might split a few but don’t worry, you’ve got a whole onion to play with!

Step 4: Onion Matching

Once you’ve got a decent layer off one onion half, prise the matching layer off the other half.

Prop one half on something to stop it rolling about - a cup or an egg box is good.

Slather on plenty of Copydex on the edges of both your onion halves, think of it as much as bathroom sealant as glue.

Pop the halves together, lining them up as best you can.

Step 5: Onion Resraint

STEP AWAY FROM A GLUED ONION! Don’t be tempted to wiggle it, just leave it be while the glue dries.

Step 6: A Light Every Layer

Keep prising apart your onion layers for more lights, scoring round the root so you get a nice neat hole at the bottom. Work one by one, separating then glueing each half together. Don’t do all the separating first, it’s too easy to mix them up and end up with fiddly, mis-matching halves.

Step 7: Done?

When the glue looks yellowy and rubbery, it’ll be done! Copydex works on veg. WHO KNEW!

Other latex glue might work but I've only tried Copydex.

Step 8: Ready Your Lights

Your onion light is ready to be baubled! Get yourself a lantern/balloon single LED light - best ones we've found are Yunlight Paper Lantern lights, they last for ages and you can change the batteries so you can make many generations of onions.
Take a small fabric patch, we've used leather scraps as they stick really well. Cut a circle slightly bigger than the hole in your onion and snip a tiny cross in the middle by folding it in half, snipping down and doing the same the other way.
Dob a bit of glue on the neck of your LED light, poke the string through the hole in your patch and pull the patch down onto your light so it just pokes through, it should be nice and snug. Press the triangly-bits of your snipped cross in place and leave to dry. You LED now has a little collar, it should look like the top of a Christmas bauble.

Step 9: Onion Suspense

Once your LED has its little patch glued on (and its dry!) dob some glue round the hole in your onion and onto the patch.
Prop your onion hole-side up in cup or egg-box then wiggle the LED with its patch into the hole and smooth the patch onto the hole's edge. Step away and let it dry.
When the glue's gone all nice and yellowy and hard, you're finished! Pull the plastic tab on the LED and Ta da! Look at it’s lovely veiny onion-ness!

An alternative to the fabric patch is to hang your onion leaf-side up. You can pop in a smaller balloon light then use a wodge of cotton wool or stuffing in to stop it falling out. Thread works to hang the onion though it doesn't stand up to strong wind!

Find your own style, experiment, go wild, wow everyone with your beautiful biodegradable baubles. “Are they ONIONS?!!!” they will say and you will say. “Why yes, yes they are.” And there will be awed silence and wonder.

Step 10: How Does Your Garden Glow? With Onion Shells and Tearful Smells and Pretty Orbs All in a Row

We filled a whole tree with onion lights at Ulverston’s Candlelit Walk in Cumbria, UK for Halloween 2017. We believe it was a World First. We are very proud of our glowing veg. The next year we did glowing eggs because now we know, LEDs belong in kitchens.

Pak Choi also looks great by the way. But it's more expensive than onions here. I tried broad bean pods too but they were a bit thick and less exciting. Please do share any of your glowing veg experiments here or

LED Contest 2017

Participated in the
LED Contest 2017