This card Instructable not only allows you to make amazing, professional-looking light-up cards - it can also be adapted to any geeky theme you'd like! Choosing to add a switch and wire instead of copper tape inside a frame can also be applied to create a great work of art!
Step 1: Gather the Materials
Materials (Amazon links provided):
- cardstock/scrapbooking paper
- clear tape
- double-sided tape or glue
- 3mm craft foam
- 3V coin battery
- 3mm LEDs
- Copper foil tape
- Transparent plastic file dividers
Many of these materials are available at your local dollar store, except for copper tape and LEDs.
You may be able to acquire foam tape (foam with tape on both sides) to make the project easier.
You will also need a pattern of your choice to create the design. What I did is searched "Star Wars outline" in Google Images. This will give you a simple silhouette version of a variety of objects and characters from Star Wars. You can do this with any object you like! Just keep in mind that the more detailed the object is, the more cutting you will have to do. Darth Vadar was quite simple, while BB8 took more time.
I made a variety of these cards for my family (see image). It was addicting! You can also create simple designs and have children do this (Christmas trees, birthday cakes, etc.).
Step 2: Preparing the Front of Your Card
- Choose your design and cut out the pieces you need from the cardstock. You can either print it directly to the cardstock or use carbon paper to trace it onto your paper before cutting it out.
- Place your plastic sheet in the colour you want onto the image you printed.
- Using the double-sided tape, tape the pieces of cardstock you want onto the plastic sheet, using the printed design as a guide. This will be the negative space that will glow when the light is turned on.
- Cut out the design from the plastic. You should now have your image that will glow (see Boba Fett image done in green).
Make sure to note the size of the image you choose. It should fit the front of the size of card you intend to make.
Step 3: Prepare the Base of Your Card
This step is easy! Fold a piece of paper in half. I recommend not choosing white to help your card stand out. If the colour you have chosen is dark, add a piece of white paper on the inside to write your message on.
Step 4: Prepare the Light(s)
- Cut out a white piece of paper that is larger than the size of your cut-out but smaller than the size of the card you made. White reflects light the best, but if you choose to use another colour, that is up to you!
- Place (don't tape) your image where you would like it on your white paper. Using a pencil, mark where you would like the LED to be. Tip: hiding the LED behind the paper will look nicer than placing the light directly behind the plastic. as it will create a glowing effect rather than a sharp light effect.
- Punch 2 small holes the diameter and width of the LED prongs using a pin.
- On the back of the paper, you will use your copper tape to act as wires that will connect the LED to the battery. For a simple card with one LED, you can use a simple circuit, which means connecting the LED from the positive end of the LED to the negative end. You can only do this with one LED as the 3V battery can only light one 3V LED in this kind of circuit. You can use the same process as noted below with a parallel circuit for more LEDs, but I will keep this Instructable simple.
- Cut a piece of paper the width of the battery and more than double the length to create a rectangle. See #9 as to why we need this paper longer than the battery. 1cm longer should be enough.
- Fold the paper in half. This is where the battery will be sandwiched. If you need to, you can trace the battery shape onto the inside of the fold.
- Using the double-sided tape, tape the folded rectangle where you would like the battery to go (I recommend the corner of the paper with the open side of the fold facing the edge of the paper). Pressing the battery down will activate the light, so put it where you would like the recipient to press. The upper or bottom right is a good place.
- From one hole that was made for the LED, stick the copper tape down and lead it to where the battery will go. This should lead to the opened taped-down section of the "sandwich". If you need to create a corner, you can easily do that by pressing the tape to the corner of where you need to make the turn, turning the tape in the opposite direction of where you intend it to go and pressing down, then continuing to follow the direction you need to go in. See the image where there are corners. If it doesn't look clean, that's okay! People won't see it. Just make sure not to tear the tape. This is the instructions for how I made the bottom link to the circuit in the picture. The tape must cover the space where the battery will go.
- Do the same thing as #4 but for the other hole for the LED. Lead this copper tape along the open folded piece of paper you made and around to the other side (see picture).
This part is done! Once you get the hang of this, it will go by very quickly if you choose to create multiple cards.
Step 5: Attach the Image
- Attach double-sided tape to both sides of some foam and cut small strips of it.
- Attach the foam to the back of your image (the plastic and paper one) in a few places to make it sit higher than the LED (see photo of the card turned sideways).
- Attach the image to the front of the white paper where you attached your LED where you wanted it to sit (the LED side, not circuit side).
- Check to make sure the circuit still works when the battery is pressed.
- Using double-sided tape, attach this sheet to the card you made.
The card is now done and ready to give! You may choose to add a note that says "press here" where the battery is if you like so the recipient knows something will happen with this card.
If you would like me to create a new Instructable with a parallel circuit to add more LEDs, let me know in the comments!