Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DIY Silicone lights

When Zach and I first started living together we got a hand me down Christmas tree.  That first year, we didn't have any ornaments so I tucked all the Christmas cards we received in it and we loved it.  After the holidays that year I bought a crap ton (technical term) of ornaments for 90% off!  They were all golds, rich reds, and purples.  The following year we purchased lights for the tree.  What I didn't realize then, was that the new LED lights that were clear are actually 'cool white,' which shines a sort of silvery blue.  I was thankful to have lights on our tree, but I've always hated that they aren't the same golden yellow of the old fashion lights that I love, and that would match my gold ornaments much better.


I'm exploring ways to change the color myself, since buying a new set would run me around $50 for the whole tree.  Today I tried tinted silicone:

Looks good, right?  Not perfect, sure; but they look like candle flames.  Actually, these would make GREAT bulbs to simulate candles.  Well, back to today's business.

Here's what you'll need:

DO use 100% silicone
DO protect your skin with rubber globes
DO this project in an extremely well ventilated area
DO practice a lot before the real deal
DO NOT get the silicone or mineral spirits on your hands, it can burn
DO NOT make too much at once; it'll cure before you can use it

Mix a batch of the paints you chose to use.  If you plan to use the color paint straight from the jar, skip this step. 
Squirt your silicone into the cup, you want to make sure it's deep enough to cover the entire bulb, but don't make too much at once.  Add a dollop of your paint.  You can choose to thin it out a little bit with the mineral spirits if you wish, though you don't have to.

Mix, mix, mix, until you get a gloopy, evenly colored glob.  It helps to cut the top of the cup off at this point so it's easier to dip your bulbs.  Work fast now, because it will start to cure in as little as 5 minutes (which is why you don't want to make a huge batch of this stuff.

Dip your bulbs in the silicone until it touches the plastic at the top.  If you don't dip it in all the way it'll have a hard time adhering to the bulb and you'll find a lot of it just slips right off.  After the bulb is covered, slowly pull it out to create the nice little tail.  If you've thinned it out, you should have something like above.  It's covered in a very thin layer with a short tail.  If you want a thicker layer with a longer tail, leave the silicone full thickness and pull the bulb out VERY slowly.

Take your time with this.  It's not hard to do, but it takes time to learn the best technique to achieve the look you desire.  If you don't like the way it's looking, wipe it off with a rag soaked in mineral spirits before it cures and you can try again, no harm done. 
This is so much fun, and I can see the applications year round!  Can you just imagine the Halloween lights?!  Oh, I'm daydreaming again.
Happy Holidays,

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Please leave me some love. Tell me if you've tried these things, if you've like them, if they were a nightmare, or if you know what I've done wrong. I'd love if you included links to your work, but please, keep it relevant.