Introduction: Light-up Literary Flower

About: In which I turn the thoughts from my head into objects in my hands

Dead week has begun, meaning that there's only one week for me to relearn 15 weeks of solid mechanics, electricity and magnetism, and properties of materials. Do I have time to spend being idle?


But am I going to make something anyway?


That being said, this project was created with a "because I want to" type of vibe. My roommate had some tattered books from her previous classes, and I'd been eying them as possible materials before she eventually fed them to a landfill/recycling center. I'd also recently fallen in love with some flower lights that I saw on pinterest, and those two ideas just fused in my head.

The electronic aspect came from something that I wanted to try (I plan on making a flower lamp for the apartment, if/when I have time over winter break). I wouldn't have posted this project if not for my thought that people might be inspired by my design for it. It's basically a contact switch that I hid within the petals and stem, but the tricky part was circumventing the possibility of shorting the circuit (since the entire stem is metal wire and thus conductive). I found it clever, and hopefully you might too?

UPDATE: This technique was used for my floral lamp, second picture above. Enjoy!

Step 1: Materials

  • stiff wire (I used 19 gauge stainless steel wire, which people usually use for sculpting)
  • pliers (for cutting)
  • electrical wire (MUST be coated to prevent shorts), LEDs, 3V coin battery (if you want electronics)
  • book pages (or just paper)
  • floral tape (for nice plant texture)
  • glue

Step 2: Petals

I didn't plan this tutorial beforehand--again, this was a bit of a whim rather than planned project for posting--so I didn't have pictures of initial steps. But in essence, I shaped petals using the wire, adding a 12" stem to each (so it essentially looked like a fly swatter, according to my roommate..). For some of the petals (random/no need to plan which ones) I added leaves (see my other tutorial of wire flowers on how to shape leaves) so that I could have some leaves to go with my flower, as well as for my contact switch. Make sure you shape two leaves whose distances from the petal are the same! This will act as part of your switch (you press the two leaves together to connect the circuit, thereby turning on the light).

My flower had 3 shapes for the petals, indicated (by relative shape and size) in the second picture above. 3 small rounded petals went on the inside, 5 bigger petals cupped those three, and 6 long, thin petals created their base. You may chose to do different shapes/sizes to fit your liking. One thing I'd remember for the future would be to make the petals longer; because they need to be bent upward, longer is better so you have more control with the curvature.

When the wire frames are complete, you'll need to grab your book pages and glue. Spread glue generously across the pages, press a wire petal against it, and add another page on top to sandwich the wire frame between the two sheets. I actually crumpled up the pages before gluing so I could get the wrinkled texture of petals, but that turned out to be useless because the drying glue made the pages taut. Repeat for all of your petals, and MAKE SURE YOU LET THEM SIT OVERNIGHT FOR DRYING. If they're not adequately dry before handling, you might ruin them, so just stick them in a cup so they can stand up and avoid spreading glue all over your table.

Step 3: Trimming

When your petals are fully dry, trim the paper off as close to the wire frame as you'd like. I trimmed as close as possible, making sure that I didn't go close enough to expose the wire. Repeat for all your petals.

I originally planned to roll the edges of the paper inward so that I could get a nice fold commonly found in rose petals, but it didn't turn out as well as I would've liked (see last three images above).

Step 4: Shaping Inner Petals

For the inner petals, I bent them at 90 degrees from their stems (first image) before shaping an S curve (second picture). Then I grouped the three inner petals at 120 degrees from each other, and wrapped them together to keep that positioning.

Step 5: Electronics: Part 1

Take your LED(s) (I connected two in parallel for added brightness; see first and second images) and insert the terminals down between your inner petals. Cut two pieces of electrical (coated) wire for your contact switch; they should be the same distance from the petal as the two leaves you'll use for your switch, plus about 3 inches for leeway. Then.. see the other images above for step-by-step instructions.

Finish arranging your other petals however you like at this point, and carefully wrap your entire stem with floral tape (make sure your two ends of electrical wire are sticking out next to the leaves that will be your switch instead of wrapped under floral tape). This is trickier than it sounds, since you'll have 20+ pieces of wire extending form your flower, and thus I don't have pictures of it (both hands extremely busying with preventing everything from unraveling).

Step 6: Electronics: Part 2

Now this is very tricky, but remember the two ends of electrical wire connected to your LEDs that should be protruding from your wrapped stem next to your two leaves? Wrap one of the wires around the top leaf (see second picture) before covering that top leaf with floral tape (randomly is fine) leaving ONE SMALL PORTION of the leaf uncovered. For the other piece of electrical wire, bring it in between the top and bottom leaves before wrapping the (uncoated) end into a spiral positioned directly under the uncoated section. See the fourth image above for clarification (sorry that the pictures aren't too great; positioning for the right angle was a struggle). Wrap any other leaves you made with floral tape; no need to worry about electronics for that.

Step 7: Fini

When you press the two leaves together, the uncoated parts of the wire should touch and complete the circuit to light up your lovely new flower.

I'll definitely be toting this around campus as I head from review session to review session this week; after all, who said that study buddies HAD to be human?

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