Intro: LED Paper Chandelier
Anthro Envy /,anTHrō 'envē/ (n): the active coveting of all things Anthro
Listen, we've all been there. We've all walked into Anthro and gone weak in the knees contemplating how all their gorgeous items would look in our living spaces. We've meandered over, timidly grasped hold of the price tag, taken a deep breath, and been shocked at the sheer number of digits listed in its price. And like that, the dream has been snatched out from under us, leaving us dazed and bewildered.
I propose an alternate plan to that bank heist you were planning. How about we make a $1000 paper chandelier for, say, less than $15? Who's with me?
Step 1: Tools, Yo.
You will need:
Matte board 1/16th or thicker (or acrylic) x2
2 3V coin batteries
2 coin battery holders
Small swatch of Conductive Fabric
Laser cutter (or x-acto knife if you're feeling it)
Step 2: Laser Cut That Chandelier
First things first: decide if you're going to draw your own design in Illustrator or if you're to use a template available on the interwebs. There are pros and cons, of course. If you want to use a readymade you admire, it's less time consuming. Go forth and Google. Dreambackyards.com.au has a nice one I based mine off of. If, though, you're all about control and you want your vision properly created, design that thing in Illustrator. Make sure you're making two intersecting pieces of your chandelier. They should slide together in the middle. I would give those slits that facilitate the sliding together a little more space, as opposed to being just one cut.
Then choose a thick matte board (or you can go acrylic or really whatever you'd like that holds together nicely). I did a 1/16th matte board sized 16x20, so it would fit nicely in the laser cut bed. Regular card stock isn't strong enough for this activity.
Then laser cut it. Alternatively, if you have a steady hand and remarkable patience, you could just cut it out using the printed template as a guide taped to the top of your chandelier.
Step 3: Building Circuitry - LEDs
Grab your copper tape. Lay two tracks of copper tape on each candle stem. Attach your LEDs with solder to the tape. You're going to want to remember which side is positive and which is negative. The easiest is to have them all face the same way, however, this might make building your circuit a little difficult. You can decide based on what you've cut. Simple solution, though, is to lightly draw a + and - on the appropriate sides in pencil.
Test it with a coin cell battery attached to the appropriate positive and negative sides.
Step 4: Continuing the Copper Tape + Solder
Continue your two tracks of copper tape along the stems towards the center of the chandelier. If your chandelier arms are too small to hold two lines of copper tape, you have two options. You can either cut the tape to fit or you can lay a track cover it with masking tape and lay the second track down. I did the cut the tape option, which made it pretty lovely, however it wasn't nearly as conductive as it would be with the wider surface area offered by the full piece of tape.
Connect any broken tape joints with solder. And if you used the thin method, go ahead and line the thin points with solder all the way through. You could even line all the tape with solder for a cool look.
Step 5: Power
Once you see where your tracks are headed down the middle of the halves of the chandelier, you can decide on a good place to house the battery. Solder a coin cell battery holder on to the chandelier and continue the tracks to the appropriate + and - sides to complete the parallel circuit.
If you don't have enough space for all the tracks, line your tape with solder and cover what you have with masking tape. Then continue the other tracks on top of the masking tape.
Step 6: Slide the Two Sections Together
Once you've mastered the power, slide the two sections of the chandelier together to create your finished piece. Tie a string through the top ring and hang it from your ceiling. Turn off the lights and check out that soft glow.
You will have one side that looks simple and elegant and the light will shine from the back. The other side embodies skeletal awesomeness. This way, you can showcase your beautiful circuitry and it looks awesome. Your choice for how you want to hang it.
Step 7: Bonus #1: Coin Cell Battery Pockets
If you leave the batteries in their holders constantly, they'll die pretty quick. To avoid this, you can build a little paper pocket and hot glue it on stem. Connect a piece of string from inside the pocket to the battery. Remove the battery from the holder and put it in the pocket during non use time. The string is to make sure you don't drop it.
Step 8: Bonus #2: Stealth Mode
Most things have switches to turn them on. I propose leaving this on and entering stealth mode when you want it off. Grab a small swatch of conductive fabric and cut it to make a small square. You can hem the edges of you so desire. When you want to enter stealth mode and turn off the lights, touch the fabric to both the positive and negative tracks for each individual LED or all of them together.