I've been looking for a flat conductive surface for art projects and came across foil art. After playing a bit with paint and black markers, I have to say it's quite fun adding interests and textures to a drawing.
I'd created this by drawing on a cardstock paper and outlined with yarn to produce the embossing effect when foil is added. Most people use cardboard box and glue for tracing which requires longer drying time. Since I like things more 3 dimensional, I punched holes on the bottom two corners and added wires to have it stand. I love the billboard look. Give it a try and would love to see what you come up with!
Now comes the exciting part. When you clip the foil with alligator clips, you'll complete a circuit and trigger sound with MakeyMakey and Scratch. Scratch is a kids visual programming language, an MIT Lab initiative.
I've started collecting tree branches on walks with my 5 year old lately and been looking for ways to use them. There's something whimsy about working with organic materials and my favorite so far are branches and moss.
While playing with different materials for the peg doll body, I thought it'd be fun to use the branches I've been gathering. What started as a simple idea became one of my most favorite creations. Never in a million years would I've thought moss can look so beautiful as a dress!
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.
I've been spending a lot of time tinkering with simple circuitry lately to find new ways to light up craft projects and engage girls in engineering concepts. A week ago, I came across Jie Qi's circuit painting, Pu Gong Yin Tu (which is Chinese for Dandelion painting) and completely fell in love with her work. So needless to say, when the box of Chibi Lights arrived last night, I was super excited.
For a packaging junky like me, opening the box was an experience in itself. From the outer sleeve to the inner box, the team really took time to make the whole experience friendly and fun.
Inside the outer sleeve was a cardboard box that housed a sketchbook and pack of toolkit. The cardboard box itself had cute illustrations and instruction for how you can hack the box using the supplies provided. Each kit comes with a roll of copper tape, LED stickers, coin battery, conductive plastic sheet (inside the sketchbook flap) and binder clips.
The sketchbook was smaller than I'd imagined but it was packed with great stuff. The instructions and visuals were easy to understand and provided opportunities to explore your own paper circuit ideas. So far, this has been the best resource to understand the basics of circuitry and different concepts and possibilities within the topic, written in plain English that anyone can understand.
By the time I finished going through the book, it was time to hit the sacks before kiddos wake up in 4 hours. But before that happened, my eye caught the plain black binder clips and triggered a craft itch. (I'm sure every crafter gets this). So I reached for my washi and fabric tapes and gave them new color and life.
Stay tuned to see what these little light stickers can do!
Disclosure: I love these lights so much that I'm now a reseller of the product to support Jie Qi's efforts. She is currently studying at MIT Labs and hope to see her work influence more girls to be engineers to open new possibilities!
I love doll houses and mini objects so for my new circuit craft challenge, I decided to make a miniature lamp using LED lightbulb and coin battery.
The first step in the process was thinking about how the battery and LED bulb will be held together to stand on its own. After referencing a real lamp for ideas, I decided I needed something that was flexible, sturdy and easy to mold into shapes. The paper wrapped floral wires I used for my previous projects came in handy.
When creating the lamp shade, you have to keep in mind of how it'd sit on the lightbulb and the vertical space required to cover the bulb and the battery. Since I was trying to go for minimal support, I left a small round opening in the center of the horizontal wire so the bulb can be inserted to hold the shade in place. The half circle on the light stand would work as the battery holder to keep the coin battery secured.
Once the LED and battery were stationed, I placed the shade over the stand with the LED wires matching to the right sides of the battery (positive to positive, negative to negative).
Once everything was working, I finished off the lamp shade with fabric covering and decorated the trim with lace. Integrating simple circuit concepts into crafts helps take ideas to a new level and can open up all kinds of possibilities for crafty girls who might not be exploring engineering and science topics on their own.
A life observer and maker passionate about inspiring you to live out your creative self.