Introduction: Faux Flame Earrings

About: My Name is Nick and I love making things!! Learning about everything is something I like to do. I have been a carpenter here in Australia for about 10 years but recently have quit my job to do something I l…

This time around I wanted to make something cool that was wearable and eye catching. Something.... Magical!!!

When I was I kid, I saw what's known as a silk flame at a restaurant. I was instantly mesmerised!!! This flame that was so realistic, yet safe to play with. What a magical, amazing thing! Needless to say, it stuck in my mind like wild fire :) So here I am now adapting and making something that will hopefully bring some magic and mystery to people's minds.

I did a lot of research into how silk flames are made. Basically they are a piece of silk or fabric mounted above a fan with light projecting onto the material.As the material moves between the two different colour sources it creates a flicker effect because of the bend in the fabric. Cool huh.

I found out that a silk called Habotai silk is the silk of choice to use and super bright LEDs and a good fan help. Most of what I learnt did not apply to a fan the size that I chose to use.

I ran into problems with my design being miniaturised and found the best option for me was tiny computer fans matched with marabou feathers. Tiny fans are fun, but with marabou they are almost not necessary because the feather is so light it will move with the slightest of wind.

To my knowledge no one has made them this small and I look forward to other people using this design to make their own ideas.



Step 1: Designing Your Shape.

I used google SketchUp to draw what I wanted to create. It saves time in the long run having something to reference and isn't too hard once you have made a few objects. I liked the nose cone shapes because I think it's timeless. They are old as planes and as new as jets if you get what I'm saying.

I needed to have a design that would hold a small fan, LEDs and a battery so that's how I drew it by measuring my components. The fan is 8mm deep and 22mm across the diagonal. I set the fan in a bit deeper and made a bit more room for the battery to allow for wires and such.

My first design had no hole at the base which I changed because I thought that the fan would need somewhere to draw air from, so the hole was added to the base. Its a 6mm hole.

Step 2: Lathe Work

Using a lathe for wood work can be amazingly fun but it's not without its dangers. Lathes are the kind of machine that are no mercy for beginners. Make one mistake and it could be your arm, finger or worse. Please be careful if you want to make something like this on a lathe. I am no professional, but I have seen many work place accidents and want people to know it does really happen even to people who have worked with these machines for 20 plus years.

Now on with the lathe tutorial. There are half a dozen ways that small pieces of timber can be mounted on a lathe. My first idea was to glue and screw my blocks of timber to a piece of ply so I could get to the inside and shape the cup part of my design. This plan was short-lived when I discovered my block had not been completely squared at the base, making it spin unevenly in the lathe. Since it was a small piece I decided to keep going to practice and give everyone the idea.

If you decide to go this way, cut some square ply at least 20mm thick and mark diagonals on this. Drill a centre hole and screw your block in the centre. Then fix this to a lathe face plate with some pan head screws.

Lathe to diameter, then follow this by drilling a hole in the centre and cleaning this out with a small gouge to profile.

Step 3: Lathe Work Second Method/try

I found this method to be easier at least for me. It allowed me to eye both pieces next to each other while I shaped them.

First a place a nice piece of timber in your lathe. In this case I used a piece of tangelo wood that somebody had cut from their property about 12 months prior.

Use a gouge to take off all the bark and get it nice and round.

Once rounded I stopped the lathe and marked about 32mm from each end of the timber. These were to be my marks. I began to take these down using a gouge and a scraper chisel when I got close to the base. I used a skew chisel to keep my line on the timber as I worked into the job.

When I was close to having the left and right earrings the same by eye, I removed the chisel stay and began to sand with 120 grit to shape it a bit. Once that was done I finished the job with some 600 wet and dry.

Step 4: Drilling Your Center

Next I referred to my plan and found the appropiate spade drill bit to start my holes. I still had a centre hole mark from my lathe work so that made things a bit easier.

First I drilled a 22mm hole because my fan is 22mm across the diagonal. I took my time and measured as I went following my plan. Next I went down to a 13mm and dropped that down for the battery. Following This I got a 6mm and drilled right through the base.

To finish, whittle away the base till it drops off. Sand smooth.

Step 5: Finishing Your Timber

For this step I used a Dremel with a clean buffing wheel to apply the Polish and wax. The reason is bees wax needs heat to really penetrate timber. I started with a restoring polish which is softer on the timber and contains more solvent to really get into the grain. Next I used a cabinate makers wax because it really hardens up the surface finish. You can see the before and after.

Step 6: Drill Line Holes.

Now use a small drill bit to drill both ways into the top sides of your timber. You want this to be about 2.5mm or more down from the top edge or your timber might split. Also note that I avoided the natural splits in the timber.

Step 7: Hanging Your Earrings

I am using 10lb flouro carbon here for my lines.

You will also need some jewellery crimps and sheapard hook earring pieces.

I start by tying 4 eye crosser knots. Thread your line through and return it back up itself and tie a granny knot over both lines but don't pull it tight before passing it through the knot three more times. Pull it tight and make sure you leave a good 150mm on each line.

Pass all four lines up through the crimp around something like a pencil and back down through the crimp. Add your hook by opening the eye up with pliers and begin to set the appropriate height by moving the crimp and lines. When you are happy, press the crimp closed on the lines and close your sheapards hook eye.

Step 8: Electronics!!

This is my first time doing any electronics since school so it was a good to try something I'm not good at. I borrowed my dads soldering iron and bought a third hand with magnifying glass which was a worthwhile investment.

I bought some water clear LEDs on ebay and some small computer fans with high RPM. The LEDs are super bright and the fans are super fast.

LEDs will set you back about 8 dollars and the fans 20 dollars each. You will also need some wire strippers, heat shrink and solder.

One of the first things I would like to talk about is resistors. Resistors slow the accessible current that a component draws. Their reading is in ohms. Resistors are important in maintaining your LED life. If the current is too high, your leds will blow and not work, too low and they will dim. Resistors also improve the battery life because your battery can only realease what the resistor allows.

To work out what resistor you need you will need to know what's in your circuit. What volts each component is running and what amps or milliamps each is drawing.

Here is a small example of how I worked out my resistor for my LEDS. I have included a formula for you to work your future electronics out on also.

Red LED . 2.2volts, 20mil amp

Orange LED. 2volts, 20mil amp


Solution 6V-4.2=1.8


After you work out this the rest is pretty much soldering your components together.

Start by attaching the resistor to your LED. Make sure your LED is the right way around being that the longer leg of the LED is the positive and the shorter is the negative. Next attach the next LED in line either by joining the legs or attaching a wire in between.

I must note here that I bought a large 6 volt battery to test my circuit and it ran the fan and leds no problems (See picture with red and black alligator clips) but a small battery will not do the same. I solved this by simply using a Dremel and sanding drum to clear more room in the timber cup to allow for another battery. :)

Following on after your resistor and two LEDs are attached, extend the positive and negative and use some heat shrink to neaten it all up and prevent wires from crossing. Bend the LEDS so they sit around the base of the fan.

For the fans, strip the wire ends with wire strippers and tin them with solder. Ready for your battery.

When you're done you will have two circuits in each earring. A fan with battery and two LEDS with a 45ohm resistor in front of them.

Step 9: Connecting Power Supply

This is a little trick that was born out of my frustration in trying to find a good compact way of connecting the little batteries to a power source when space is an issue.

Hello silicone tape!!! This stuff is great!! It's a tape that is non sticky but sticks to itself. You simply cut it and peel off the clear tape and it can be streched around things and stuck on itself. I just put the wires under it and stretched it around. It is just as easy to remove when you want and it's reusable. Over time it may get too dirty and not stick to itself, but clean it with soapy water and you're ready to go again.

Step 10: Adding Your Feathers

You will need :

Needle nose pliers

Stainless trace wire

Marabou feather in white (sold in some fishing shops)

Heat shrink

Here I started out with some trace wire and used some pliers to bend it into little self holding frames that sit into the computer fan holes. Notice the return on the wire end. It's important because it acts as a spring to prevent it from slipping out.

Slip some heat shrink up the base of your feather till it's the appropriate size and heat the shrink onto it and trim.

Next stab the trace wire through the heat shrink and thread it onto your mini wire frame.

Sit over your fan.

Step 11: All Done

Now that you're all finished, its time to take your earrings to a party and have some fun.

Thanks for reading if you got this far. Hope you enjoyed it!

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