Star Wars Jawa Eyes for a Jawa Costume

Introduction: Star Wars Jawa Eyes for a Jawa Costume

About: Just your typical Evil Mad Scientist, constantly thinking of new inventions to subjugate the world with! I'm big on hydroponics, electronics, and small portable nuclear fusion power plants. I just go crazy...

Ok so my nephew wants to be a Jawa this year for Halloween.  Grandma is the seamstress, we got her an expensive Bernini sewing machine so she went crazy with the Jawa robe.  I took on the task of making the Jawa eyes.  I mean c'mon I've got all the materials to make them already, plus it involves LED's, and I have TONS of those that I bought off of eBay, just for this sort of project!

Unfortunately I never liked yellow or amber LED's so I didn't have any of those, they probably would have worked a little bit better.  But I do have tons of ultra-bright white LED's in various sizes.  So all I'd have to do is make some sort of yellow colored diffuser and I'd be set.

Plus I discovered a brand new composite material using tyvek and Gorilla Glue.  It's probably the best idea that I've had yet, and it can be used for a HUGE variety of projects.

With all the glue drying involved it's a several day project.  If you do make these please post pictures in the comments for this instructable!

I'm hoping to have pictures of the eyes at night with the whole costume after Halloween. 

There they are!

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Step 1: Materials List

1 Toilet Paper tube.
1 bottle of Gorilla Glue (or Sumo Glue), I used both
1 small tube of Silicone sealant
some bamboo skewers
bar clamps and spring clamps
1 or 2 Tyvek mailing envelope(s)
8 feet of two conductor wire
2 5mm bright white LED's
3 inches of aluminum foil from the roll
soldering iron
solder with flux
heat shrink tubing
paper towel
Yellow Mustard
4 or more razor blades, I used the double sided kind
1 black marker or matte black paint
1 piece of corrugated cardboard about 6 inches square
1 needle and black heavy duty thread
some newspaper for a work surface
some elastic banding from the fabric store

Step 2: Making the Tube

Ok this is the best part of the project.  I wanted a tube, and a toilet paper tube seemed to be about the right size, but I wanted it a little more solid.  So I took a strip just wider than the toilet paper tube from the back of a tyvek envelope, I used the whole length of the back of the envelope.  I spread a paper thin layer of Gorilla Glue with a razor blade across this strip of tyvek, but on only one side.  Then I rolled it tightly around the toilet paper tube.  Now you have to let this dry a while.  Mine didn't set until 3 days later, and set it did, it was solid as plastic.  While drying I laid the seam end down against the newspaper I covered over the table to protect it from all the glue I was using.  I contemplated putting a heavy cylindrical object within the tube while it was drying to keep the seam tight.  But it worked just fine drying without it.  The seam was solid.  Of course a little newspaper will stick to the seam but it came off just fine.

Honestly I think this is my best idea to date, it makes for a cheap but VERY solid composite.  Basically it is similar to carbon fiber and epoxy resin.

After it had set I trimmed the extra tyvek from both ends of the tube (with a razor blade) so that it met the sides of the toilet paper roll.  Then I divided it into 4 equal sections (again with a razor blade).  First I cut the tube into half and used the two halves.  I thought it would be easier to work with the two halves rather than cutting it into 4 pieces at this time.  Later I'll cut each half in half again later.

Step 3: Making the Sleeves for the Tube

Now I made some sleeves for the outside of the tubes.  The idea is that I'll make a yellow diffuser out of a paper towel or something similar.  Cut a circle out of that, cover the tube, then use the sleeve to keep it in place, hide the ends, and keep it taught.

So first I wrapped the tubes with plastic wrap, enough for 3 or 4 layers.  Then for a little width I wrapped some paper (printer paper)  around this 3 or 4 times.  Then I wrapped that again with more plastic wrap for 3 or 4 layers. 

Now I cut a strip from the back of the tyvek envelop just smaller than the eventual height of the tube.  Remeber in the pictures below I haven't cut these in half yet, so the tube itself is twice the height it will eventually be.  I thought it would be easier to work with the sleeves if I did it this way.  It gave me something to grab onto to get the sleeve off.  So with the strip of tyvek that I cut, I used a razor blade to completely cover this strip with a paper thin layer of glue.  I wrapped this strip tightly around the tube that we made in the last step and covered with plastic wrap in this step.

I ran out of gorilla glue but had some sumo glue (which is the same thing).  The only real difference between the two is one dries yellowish (gorilla glue) and the other dries white (sumo glue).  I love both and use both all the time.  Sumo glue expands a bit less than gorilla glue, but I like that expansion aspect of gorilla glue in some circumstances.  My Sumo glue had dried up a bit so I cut the top off so that I could get to the still liquid glue down inside the bottle.

Now you'll want to wait at least 24 hours before removing the sleeve from the tube.  I recommend always letting these glues to cure for at least 24 hours.  I let mine cure for 2 days.  Then remove all the plastic wrap and paper (used for width) from both.

So now we have two tubes and two sleeves.  The sleeves should slide back onto the tube with no problem. 

Now lets make the diffuser for the LED's.

Step 4: Making the Yellow Diffuser.

Now here is the second best idea that I had.  I used Yellow Mustard to dye a sheet of paper towel yellow!

Jawa Eyes are yellow, and all I have is white LED's.  LED's have a very tight beam of highly directional light.  So we need something that will diffuse the light and change it's color.  To solve this problem I took a paper towel covered it with yellow mustard, squished it all together, then let it set for several hours in a cup, before washing it off.  Then I let it dry completely.  Now I've got a bright yellow paper towel to use for a diffuser.  I cut circles out of this about a half inch bigger than the tube I made in step 2.  Then place this piece over the tube, then take the sleeve I made in the last step and place this over the diffuser and slide it down onto the tube.

You can see this process in the picture.  On the far right assembled piece you can see some black on the bottom.  I was testing how well a marker worked on the tyvek can glue.  Eventually I was planning on painting these matte black.  But I was pressed for time and had a black marker instead, which worked fine except it was a bit glossy for my tastes.

So take the sleeve and diffuser back off the tube and cut the tube to it's final height.  I also trimmed down the sleeves (with a razor blade) so that they were about a half inch shorter than the tube.

The pictures don't really do the yellow color of the diffuser justice.  They are actually much more yellow.  I need a new digital camera eventually.

Step 5: Making the Bridge and Assembling the Eyes

First I made a bridge.  I cut two pieces of corrugated cardboard which were the same shape and glued them together.  Then let them dry for 24 hours.  I used the tubes to trace half circles with a pencil onto the cardboard. 

Once the bridge has dried I then put a generous amount of Sumo Glue in the half circle parts of the bridge and glued the tubes onto the bridge.  I had to clamp the bridge down to the table with two bamboo skewers and two clamps.  Then I kept the tubes down on the table with a plastic food container filled with heavy items.  Of course once this cures part of the newspaper will be glued to your eyes, but no worries, at least it isn't permanently glued to the table!  You may want to use a rubber band or string to keep the tubes tightly attached to the bridge. 

In the last picture you can see the end result.

Once the glue had dried for 24 hours the assembled eye tubes and bridge were rock solid and didn't need any further reinforcing.

Step 6: Making the LED Eyes

Next I trimmed the LED leads down a bit.  Remember than an LED is polarized.  The longer LED lead is positive, so when you cut the leads make sure to keep the longer lead longer so you can tell them appart.  then I took some 2 conductor wire and soldered them to the leads and covered them with heat shrink tubing.  I used the spring clamps to hold the small parts while I was soldering them.

I've found that the best way to solder two pieces together is to get a bit of solder on each piece then melt them together.  So I got some solder on the the ends of the wire then melted them to the ends of the LED.

Next cut a circle of cardboard that will fit inside our eye tubes.  Punch a hole just big enough for the wires into the center of this circle.  Pull the wires through the circle until the LED is almost flush.  Put a little bit of glue on the bottom of the LED before pulling it flush with the circle.  You want these LED to point straight up so it's best to make sure they dry this way.

Then I covered the face of the cardboard circle with a *thin* layer of glue.  I used Sumo Glue again, but make sure you don't get any near the LED's.  Then I cut a piece of aluminum foil just bigger than this circle, punched a hole for the LED in the center and placed this on top of the glued surface.  Once it dried (24 hours), then I cut the extra Aluminum foil from around the circle.  This will act as a reflector to get more of the light in the eyes to shine out the front of the eyes and help a bit with diffusing the light to get more even spread of light across the diffuser.

You can see the final pieces with the aluminum foil in the second picture.

Step 7: Inserting the LED Portion Into the Eye Tubes

I next placed the LED eye pieces into the eye tubes and inset them about a quarter of an inch from the bottom.  I glued these in place with Silicone sealant, because it's removable.  If I had used gorilla or sumo glue, I'd never be able to get them apart again.  This takes several hours to dry.  I left mine overnight.

In the picture below the eye tube assembly is upside down and we are looking at the bottom of the eyes.

Step 8: Wiring the Battery Pack

I had a AA 2 battery holder from an earlier project that I used.  The two conductor wire that I used has one silver lead and one copper lead so I could tell them apart.  Taking the ends of the two led wire leads I twisted the like leads together.  So I twisted the two copper color leads together and the two silver color leads together then I soldered those to the battery pack.  I actually ended up adding a switch to the mix.

Ok so technically you *should* have a resistor wired in series with each LED.  Normally I would do an internet search for an "LED array wizard".  I used this one.  This brings up a website that will have you put in some information about the LED's you are using, then it will tell you what size of resistor you want to put on the circuit.  It will even make a diagram of your circuit.  Most of the time if you are only using 3v, (which in my case I was using two AA batteries, so two at 1.5v gives 3 volts), you'll be fine.  The batteries won't last more than an hour, if you put resistors on the circuit you'll get a battery life of something like 10 hours.  So adding the resistor definitely adds battery life.

Unfortunately when I bought these particular LED's they didn't come with all the pertinent information that you need to run the LED wizard.  Plus I was pressed for time, I had to get these eyes out in the mail to my nephew so that he'd have them in time for his Halloween party at school.  So I just wired it all up with no resistors.  The batteries won't last very long but I'll fix that after Halloween.

But typically you need to know the following to run the LED wizard;

Source Voltage:
Usually 3v or 4.5v depending on if you are using two or 3 AA or AAA batteries)  Most of the time you'll be just fine with 2 AA or AAA batteries.  Occasionally you'll run into a situation where the LED's you have require a higher voltage or you are running a large array of them, then you'd want to use more batteries.

Diode Forward Voltage:
This *should* be on the packaging of your LED's.  If it isn't make sure to write it down when you buy them.  I get most of mine off eBay and when they come in the mail it's not on the package.  Usually they will have that information on the items page, so just be sure to write it down or print it out when you buy them.

Diode Forward Current:
Again this should be on the package, but write it down or print it out if you buy them online.

Number of LED's in your array:
Which in this case is just two.

So I tested the LED's with two 1.5v AA batteries, and they lit up just fine.  But after doing a little research by looking up similar LED packs on eBay I found what I should have done should have been something just a little different.  From the eBay item page I found the following specs;

  • Source Material:InGaN
  • Emitting Colour:White
  • LENS Type:Water clear
  • Color Temperature: 8000K
  • Luminous Intensity-MCD: Min: 30000mcd  Max: 40000 mcd
  • Reverse Voltage:5.0 V
  • DC Forward Voltage: Typical:3.4 V Max: 3.8V
  • DC Forward Current:20mA
  • Viewing Angle:20 degree
  • Lead Soldering Temp:260°C for 5 seconds
  • Intensely Bright
When I plugged this information into the LED array wizard I got the following diagram (see picture diagram)

I really should have had 3 batteries and two 56 ohm resistors.  I'll have to fix that once I get the eyes back after Halloween.

Step 9: Paint the Outside of the Pieces Black.

Next I painted the outsides of the pieces black with a black permanent marker.

Step 10: Attach the Elastic Strip.

Next we want an elastic band to keep it on your head.  I had always planned on my nephew wearing these on his forehead.  Sure they are a little high but the kids gotta see and you can't see through these things.  So with the little lip on the back of the eye tubes I drilled two holes then sewed the elastic band to the eye tube using those two holes. 

I didn't have time to figure out how to hide the wires so I figured my nephew could just have the wires go over his head and down into the battery pack in his back pocket.

I'm hoping to get pictures of the eyes lit up in darkness after Halloween. 

Lastly put the yellow diffuser back on the top of the eye tubes and secure them with the sleeves.  And you are all set!

Step 11: Pictures of the Final Costume.

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    14 Discussions

    Sun Spirit
    Sun Spirit

    9 years ago on Step 11

    First of all, absolutely brilliant! Jawas are such charismatic little critters and it always seemed to me it would be fun to dress up as one, but the glowing eyes are so central to the whole thing I figured there was no use unless I could get them right. Now I have no excuse!

    Now for my question: Where are the eyes positioned in relation to your nephew's head in the above pictures? You mentioned that they were meant to rest on the forehead, but I can't shake the idea that they're over his eyes here. Adjusted for the photo-op or am I just seeing things wrong?


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 11

    Well thank you very much for the high praise! It's encouragement like this that keeps me making stuff! And I'm so glad so many people have checked out this instructable!

    Now for your questions;

    I had made the eyes so they could be positioned just over his eyes on his forehead so that he could see fine. I'm pretty sure he did reposition them for the photo, however. His grandmother made a thin black hood out of some kind of material that he could see through and breath through just fine.

    I did try to figure out a way that I could make glowing eyes that he could see through, but in the end I just couldn't think of a way to accomplish that.

    Sun Spirit
    Sun Spirit

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 11

    Thanks for the clarification! And by the way, I totally agree with your decision to have the eyes on his forehead: mask-making taught me long ago that one should not be too attached to having the creature's eyes in the same place as the human's eyes. I'm sure it looks fine anyways. And it's nice to know there's another challenge out there waiting for us if we decide to face it...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, I'd love to see pictures of the full costume.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I just got a picture and posted it to the instructable right away.  The costume came out pretty good.


    10 years ago on Introduction

     "Leds have a very tight beam of light"
    Hmmmm, what LEDs are those? because i think those propierties belong to lasers.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Good Question!  Single chip LED's (like the ones I used here) typically have a viewing angle of 6 degrees to 60(ish) degrees.  Typically you are in the 20 to 30 degree range for most single chip 5mm component LEDs.  The ones that I used had a 20 degree viewing angle.

    You get some spill out from the focusing lens but it's really quite minimal, 90% or so of the light produced by the LED is emitted from that 6 degree to 60 degree viewing angle.   So it is quite a tight viewing angle when compared with incandescent.  Incandescent bulbs spill out light in just about every direction (effectively 360 degrees), which is why they need a focusing reflector to get more of the light out of the enclosure.  CFL's are the same way but they simply wouldn't make any sense in this project, due to size and voltage requirements.  Now using multiple LED's with some kind of lens can increase the viewing angle, but I was trying to keep this as simple as possible.

    Plus if you specifically look for a wide viewing angle LED's they are out there, but for most of my projects I like to stick with a low viewing angle LED.

    Lasers' on the other hand would have effectively zero viewing angle because it's coherent light and that is the nature of coherent light.  Sure you get some spill out from the lens, but still effectively zero.  Now there are many different types of lasers out there, but the ones that most people have seen are laser pointers.  Which actually use something very similar to an LED (short for Light Emitting Diode) called a Laser Diode.

    It's easier to convey this in a diagram, so I'll have to look one up and possibly add it to the instructable.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    If you remember the original Jawas, it strikes me that they had 12V bulbs and maybe big battery-packs?



    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Well I didn't want my nephew carrying around a 12v battery so I wasn't entirely concerned about strict accuracy in implementation.  Rather I was just looking for accuracy in looks.  That and LED's don't produce the heat that an incandescent bulb does.  With an LED I can get away with 3 or 4.5 volts, which I thought would be safer.  Plus I've got a little LED fascination, they are way more efficient and the batteries last longer.  I pretty much try to make an excuse to use LED's in almost every project.


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I was thinking only of the hard time they must have had to create the same effect - aren't LEDs wonderful?



    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    You know I hadn't thought of it from that perspective.  It is certainly interesting to think about.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I got a chuckle out of the T-shirt I saw:   Jawas