Wings   Unlit wings
Wings lit up and being worn and closer detail

These were made for the Secret Garden Party Festival in 2009 and proved popular. They are largely made from acrylic sheet and tube, and use electroluminescent (EL) wire powered from a battery inverter for the lighting.

I started off by sourcing the parts- key components include:
Pink edge transmission acrylic- Trylon Ltd (see links)
Clear acrylic tube- Trylon Ltd
Acrylic adhesive- Trylon Ltd
Hinges- Craftics parts from Tap Plastics
Pink Lycra- Ebay
'Neon' flourescent tights- New Look
Electroluminescent wire and inverter- Ebay
Miscellaneous parts from stock

I started by drawing out the wing shapes in CAD, primarily so it could be reproduced, but this could easily been done by hand. Thee upper and lower shapes were then transferred onto MDF and the shape cutout using a jigsaw. Care was needed in the design to ensure the curves were kept 'flowing'. After sanding, these templates were fitted to an offcut of blockboard. A small piece of MDF was fixed at one corner. This was arranged so that it would snugly hold the acrylic tube to the template.

Once the two templates had been created I was able to shape the tube to the wing shape by gently heating the tube with a hot air gun and bending round the former. The tube was held in place until it cooled, and then trimmed. This was repeated for the four wings of the two sizes.

The backboard was made in three pieces by cutting and drilling the edge transmission sheet, again based on a template laid out in CAD to make sure everything fitted. The two side pieces were attached to the central section using an acrylic hinge cemented in place. A small gap was left, held whilst curing with a couple of thin nails. The hinges are needed for two reasons- the acrylic tubes forming the wing shapes are fairly brittle and vulnerable being stuck out from the body, so the hinge adds a degree of protection if they are knocked. More importantly, the flap in the way wings should!

The next step proved the most difficult part- connecting up the EL wire. I won't go into details on how to solder it as there are some good tutorials on Instructables, but suffice to say you need a very steady hand, good eyesight and good lighting. In future projects I would probably buy it preterminated as it took me over two hours to make the two joints. They key to making it work for this project was initially cutting over length and trimming back when finished. I cut the four lengths required to feed through the acrylic tubes and spliced them together at one end, whilst connecting to red and black flexible wire. I then fed them through the acrylic tube, using a drop of washing up liquid to lubricate it (I couldn't get it to feed otherwise). Once fed through, and the excess washing up liquid wiped off, the wires wer cut to length and tested, before securing into the tube (and insulating at the cut end) with a dob of hot melt glue.

The four acyrilc tubes were fitted to the backplate with p-clips. This is a functional, but not particularly neat solution that I would think about redoing if I find another excuse to use them. The two sets of wires coming from the tubes were terminated together to the EL inverter which is held to the backplate using cable ties.

A cover for the inverter is made from another piece of the acrylic, and mounted using 4 pieces of acrylic rod, parted off to length and sanded up on the lathe. A central hole was drilled and tapped in one end ofeach to suit an M5 screw. The other end was cemented onto the over plate. This enables the cover to be removed for changing the inverter batteries (not that i've had to yet!).

The wings were covered with nylon cut from two paris of 'neon' tights- I'm sure someone more aristic could decorate these further.

The final part of the package was to make straps. This was done by cutting three strips approximately an inch wide and 1.5m long from a piece of pink, shiny nylon lycra. These strips were plaited together under a small amount of tension to make a braided rope. The finished rope was then simply tied through holes in the backplate. This proves to be remarkably comfortable even after wearing them for a few hours, and dancing in them.

The finsihed item stood up well to abuse. I found the EL wire really wasn't bright enough until after dark, but that could be partially solved by using an alternative, brighter colour.  They resulted in a lot of comments, including a few "Where can I get them from?", so I was happy with the outcome.

The yellow UV blobs on the back were added as a later addition. They consist of a small piece of veroboard with a superflux LED and dropper resistor  and a couple of M3 screws passed through the board. Wire tails are taken out to connect to a small battery pack and switch. The Veroboard assembly was potted in a acrylic jewellery making mould to give the domed shape using a mix of clear silicone bathroom sealant and flourescent paint pigment. This means when switched on they glow pretty well.

Glow Eyed Skull



The two 1" acrylic balls were drilled to about half their depth so that the LEDs would just fit in. Two LEDs were then wired up with a 470 Ohm resister and covered in heatshrink. The two wires were spliced together and connected to a length of two core wire.

After testing, the LEDs were secured with dab of hot melt glue. The balls were then secured to a 'Bucky' skull from 'The Anatomical Chart Company'

Miniature Lights

Lamp Inner

Complete Lamp

Prototype haunted house light unit. 3 Ultrabright LEDs are mounted to a small piece of strip board, along with 3 470 Ohm dropper resisters to be able to run from 12V. Connection is via a length of 2 core flexible 'bell wire' . The board is secured in a small PVC pipe end cap using hot melt adhesive. I will probably use bottle caps when I make a few more as they will be lighter and smaller.  This one is green and acts as small spot.


I built this pair of speakers about 13 years ago. They still form the main part of the hifi. Drivers are 10" PA ones from Terralec along with Piezo horns and are rated at 150W continuous. They are loud (and heavy)! They weren't cheap to build, but were much better value than what was available at the time. The enclosures are made from MDF completly to my own design.

I was really proud of these when I built them, they sound pretty good, with plenty of Bass.

For years I ran these on an Amp pulled out of a skip, until the volume pot finally died.