LED Project: Making a Light Up Flower
In this easy, introductory tutorial we’ll use LEDs to make a light up flower. You can wear this as a pin or hair accessory, or create a bouquet to be used as decoration. This example uses plastic, which creates a sturdier flower, but you can also use a semi-transparent fabric like tulle. I used a white LED and white plastic for this example, but you can use any combination of colors to create your flowers.
If you’re just getting started with LEDs, take a look at my Introduction to LEDs first.
You’ll need a printout of the pattern, a sheet of plastic or iridescent fabric, fine sandpaper, a LED, and a coin cell battery. You’ll also need a pair of scissors and a glue gun. Depending on how you use your flower you can also use a fastener like a bobby pin or brooch backing.
1. If you’re using completely transparent plastic, you’ll want to use the sandpaper to create an even texture on the surface. This will help diffuse the light throughout the entire flower. If you’re using matte plastic or iridescent fabric you can skip this step.
2. Tape the pattern to the plastic, and carefully cut out the shapes. You can use scissors or an xacto-knife. Try to keep the edges of the shapes as smooth as possible.
3. Fold the middle of the petal to create a small hole in the center of each piece. Repeat this step for all the pieces. Next, test that your LED is working. There’s nothing worse than building something to realize the LED is dead!
4. Starting with the smallest petals, build the shape of your flower by sticking the pins of the LED through each piece.
5. Depending on the material you’re using, the flower may be flat. You can fold and bend the petals to create more shape, or use a blowdryer to set in the form.
Now we’ll create the center of the flower. This step is optional: it will slightly dim the overall brightness, but adds a softer diffused look.
6. Fold four of the small pieces so that they will stack into each other and have a flat back to glue onto the LED.
Carefully glue the pieces into each other, alternating directions. It’s ok if they aren’t perfectly aligned – the goal is to create an organic look.
7. Once you’ve arranged the petals of your flower, hold them tightly together and glue in the LED. You’ll want to use enough glue to slightly overflow into the center hole and hold the petals in place. Continue to hold the flower until the glue is dry.
8. Glue the center of the flower directly to the LED. This will also cover up any overflow from when you glued the back of the flower.
9. Pop in your battery, and you’re done! At this point you can add a clip to make this into an accessory, or create several more for a bouquet.
Related Tutorials and Projects
Intro to LED Lighting for Wearables
An overview of different types of LED lighting for wearable tech projects.
Make a Light Up Pizza
Make an LED pizza pin with felt and soft circuits (or any pin design you want).