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.
Pop them 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 clear 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: Insert Lights
Your onion light is ready to be switched on! Turn on a little LED - I used LEORX LED Balloon Lights - and insert into your onion.
Pop in a wodge of cotton wool or stuffing so the LED doesn’t fall out . Ta da! Look at it’s lovely veiny onion-ness!
Step 9: Hanging Tips
For hanging you can use a long needle and strong thread (button thread is good) - I found a stitch going across the halves first was best - that means you’re crossing the gluey join so the thread doesn’t slice through and slip out. When you’re done, pop a dob of Copydex where the thread goes into the onion and let it dry before hanging, that seems to make them more robust.
You can also glue-on fabric to hang them, leather and muslin seemed to stick well, 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. For 2018 we’re doing 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 https://www.facebook.com/candlelitwalk/