Create a light box to decorate the walls, open a child’s imagination or tell a story! See how you can easily incorporate LED lights into a shadow box without dealing with complicated wiring.
PreP the Box
In this tutorial, we’re using a paper mache box (about 3 x 5 in) found in local craft stores. Alternatively, you can cut out panels from used cardboard boxes to create your own box shape and size.
Before you begin, brainstorm a theme and think about the colors and design you’d like to incorporate. The exterior walls will be covered with decorative cardstock paper to hide the tape wiring. You can choose to paint the interior or apply cardstock paper using double sided tape. For this project, we painted the interior with black acrylic paint to produce a night scene.
Step 2 (The Interior) : Apply acrylic paint and brush in even strokes across the box, from side to side and top to bottom. Since we’re covering the exterior with cardstock paper, it’s ok to go over the edges slightly.
Step 3: Use a blow dryer to quickly dry the surfaces for next steps. Make sure all the edges are covered with paint for a clean finish. If you’re painting it black and find spots unpainted after drying, you can touch up with a permanent black marker.
Step 1: Pull a strip of copper tape and cut a length long enough to stretch across the box ceiling and to the bottom of the backside. Then holding the copper tape strip, cut through the middle to produce two thinner pieces.
Step 6: Using double-sided tape, cover along the sides of the box while leaving the rooftop open. Take the cardstock paper you prepared earlier and line it along the edges to tape in place. Please keep in mind that the bottom two flaps will need to be folded in first and apply another layer of double-sided tape over the flaps to secure the bottom panel in place.
Now you should have a box with just the roof uncovered. Finish adding your lights and if you wish to apply effects to the LED lights, such as the Blink sticker for blinking effects, you can stick it on top of the copper strips. (Position the effect sticker slanted so only one tape is coming out of the triangular signal pad shown below) Give it a test again to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Make Battery Holder
To make the coin battery holder, you’ll need a rectangular strip (about ½ inch) and two pieces of round cutouts, slightly larger than the coin battery.
Step 1: Cut small slits along the edges of the strip leaving about ½ centimeter of space in the middle. You can fold against a coin battery and make a crease to use as a guide. Note that it’s better to have tighter spaces between the two round panels so the copper tape can be in closer contact with battery. Once you have enough to cover 2/3 of the circle, trim off the excess.
Step 2: Apply glue on decorative side of the slits and wrap along the edges of the round cutout. Test to make sure opening is large enough for coin battery to be inserted. Glue on the second circular cutout to finish the battery holder. Let it dry for a minute and insert coin battery again to make sure it still fits through the opening.
Step 3: Glue battery holder to the back of the box with opening towards the top. It is important to make sure the position of the holder is close enough to the rooftop to allow the copper tapes to be inserted but not too close for ease of inserting and removing battery and tape. This is especially important if you're adding a cover roof top on top of your box.
Step 4: Fold the ends of the copper tape a few times to thicken them for better contact with battery when inserted.
Now Decorate Away!
Here's where the real fun begins. We tinkered a bit with nature and turned the box into a forest schoolhouse by adding a roof, branches and leaves and miniature objects. We kept the objects removable to keep it flexible as a room decoration, mood box or a stage set for teaching stop motion videos. Let your imagination run wild by turning it into a story box, miniature dollhouse or gallery. The possibilities are endless!
Tip: Use glue dots to station objects in place so you can move them around without damaging the interior.
Self-taught illustrator, entrepreneur and maker, making ways to turn interest into passion and career.