Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

DIY Neon Signs, Part 2

After figuring out how to make DIY Neon Signs (see the initial posts and instructions here), I recently hosted a Teen Makerspace night where we put the program outline into practice. As you may recall, the first DIY Neon Sign The Teen and I made did not have a background and it was just kind of a wire word, and although it works and is up in Thing 2’s room, we just felt it needed a little something something. So we modified our plans and added a wooden background, which helps it hold its shape better and gives it a bit of stability that it was missing.

I have a carpenter friend who helps me with the Teen MakerSpace programs and he came with pre-cut wood, nails, hammers and wire cutters to help with background. You will recall the other supplies you need are EL wire and batteries. In the neon sign we made with no background, we originally attached the EL lights to wire using zip ties to help it hold its shape. With a background, this step proved unnecessary.

So here’s what we did.

Step 1: Write your word on a piece of paper in cursive writing. You need one continuous word for the project to be successful and it’s simply easier. The Teen provided the excellent penmanship here.

Step 2: Following the outline of the word, hammer nails into your board along the shape of the word to hold the EL wire in place. Think of it as doing string art, but with EL wire instead of string.

Step 3: You will then wrap the wire around the nails to create the word in EL wire.

The trick is to use enough nails and get the placement right to hold it all in place. If you would like, you can use glue like e600 glue to adhere the wire to the wooden background. We wrapped the remaining wire and power source around the back and held it in place with zip ties and nails. You then just tear out all the background paper and you have a pretty awesome neon sign.

This is a pretty cool project and we all really liked the final results. There is a part of me that wishes I would have pre-painted the background wood white or black, but the natural wood color is attractive as well. The big thing is that the tweens and teens in attendance all thought this was really cool.