Introduction: LED Origami Flower

Create a mini work of art by making an LED origami light up flower. This project is suitable for kids as well as adults and takes less an hour to complete. Depending upon your skills level or desired amount of effort, I have included instructions for making this a solderless project or making it a soldering project. Let's get started!

For this project you will need the following:

  • Mini breadboard
  • LED (gumball LED works best but any size LED will work)
  • Origami paper
  • 2 AA batteries
  • AA battery holder with switch
  • 2 Male to female jumper wires
  • Green masking tape
  • Double sided tape
  • Fake lawn grass (Daiso sells this in bulk to go between sushi or cut your own out of construction paper)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • For soldering instructions: Substitute jumper wires for 22 gauge/solid core green wire and you will need a soldering iron

Step 1: Create an Origami Flower

First, search on the internet for a origami flower that is appealing and meets your skill level. For this project, I chose to make a lily which is not too complicated.

Step 2: LED Flower Center

The next step is to prep the LED which will go inside of the origami flower. There are two options: Solderless or soldering the LED.

Solderless: Take the two jumper wires (male to female ends) and slide the LED leads into the female ends of the jumper wire. This will not make the most secure connection so to strengthen it you will use green masking tape. Cut off a small square and wrap it around the female end of the jumper wire and the LED lead for both. The green masking tape also serves to create a green "stem" effect so that the leads are not visible and prevents a possible short circuit.

Soldering: Cut two pieces of 22 gauge, solid core wire six inches in length. Strip both ends of each wire so that the wire is exposed. Solder the LED to one end of the wires. The other end will be placed in the breadboard. Using green masking tape, cut off a small piece and cover each of the LED leads that were just soldered. This will hide the exposed soldered leads/wire, prevent short circuits and create a green "stem" effect.

Step 3: Assembling the Flower

Now it is time to start assembling the LED flower! Take scissors and cut a small part of the bottom the flower off. It is best to start with a small cut first. You can cut more off later if you find the LED does not fit through the opening. Too big of a hole and the origami flower will not fit tightly around the LED.

After snipping off a small part of the bottom of the flower, place a pencil inside the flower and send it through the opening of the hole. This helps to "open up" the hole so you can easily send the LED through.

Take either the jumper wire or soldered LED stem and feed it through the origami flower. The wires should go inside of the flower and be gently pulled out of the bottom of the flower (where a part was snipped off). Be gentle with this process and take your time so as not to tear the origami flower or have your jumper wire leads come undone under the tape.

The LED should "sit" inside the origami flower near the top and securely stay in place on it's own.

Note: Just depending on the length of the LED leads, you may or may not have them pass through the bottom of the flower (note pictures above show both).

Step 4: The Stem

The jumper wire cables are not very stable so it will be necessary to make them more rigid. Take the green masking tape and cut a section the length of the jumper wires. Wrap the green masking tape around both jumper wires to completely cover them with the exception of the male ends (which will go into the breadboard). This will create a single stem effect and make the jumper wires rigid enough to hold up the origami flower.

There are two options for the stem depending if you used jumper wires or soldered the stem to the LED:

Jumper wires: Place the stem in the breadboard. Each male end of the jumper wires will be place in a different row on the mini breadboard. If you need a refresher on the structure of a breadboard, Sparkfun has a great overview of the history and function of breadboards ("How to use a breadboard").

Soldered: Take a pencil and gently wrap both wires around it several times. This creates a cool a "stem" effect and avoids having to see two wires coming out of the bottom of the origami flower (which wouldn't make sense).

Step 5: Prep the Breadboard

The last bit of embellishment will be adding "grass" to the breadboard. This makes the project aesthetically look better by hiding the wires that are attached to the breadboard. It also give the project a more polished and "Spring" season look.

First, cut a piece of double sided tape the length of the "grass." The grass I purchased from Daiso was 7.6cm/3 inches in length and 5.08cm/2 inches in height. This covered the front of the mini breadboard as well as half of the sides. A longer length could be used if covering more of the mini breadboard is desired.

Attach the grass to the breadboard

Step 6: Light Up Origami Flower

Lastly, take the positive and negative ends of the battery pack leads and insert them into the breadboard. These will be inserted into the same rows as the origami LED flower stem leads (see picture). Because the LED leads are covered with green masking tape, you may not know which one is positive or negative at this point. No worries! If your LED does not light up immediately, remove the battery pack leads and switch the red and black leads into the opposite rows they were previously in.

Now you have a cool origami LED flower that can adorn your desk or act as a mini nightlight!