Where History Meets Haunting would never be what it is without the team of dedicated volunteers that make it all happen. Their ideas and input are always a welcome addition even when that means making changes to the event decorations or props. We have it on good authority that some of the best ideas our team of happy haunters come up with occur at the eleventh hour and that our Head Haunters actually have a lot of fun working under pressure. The following is just one such tutorial. We needed some small LED candles to update one of our larger props and this is what we came up with.
- Commercially produced LED votive candles
- Plastic coated steel garden plant stakes
- Bell wire
- Hot glue
- Electrical tape
- Solder and soldering iron
- Spray paint
- Tubing cutter
- Wire strippers
The candles we needed to create are just a bit bigger than birthday size candles so if you are looking for something larger you might try the tutorial on LED Candles instead. However, if small is what you are looking for, then you have found the right place.
Start by selecting the size steel garden stake tubing you want. We chose the smallest size as it fit with the plastic flame we needed, but you can alter this step if your flames are a different size than ours.
They come in varied lengths. We only needed 6 candles so we picked one up for just around a dollar at our local garden center. They appear solid but, take our word for it, they are hallow.
Cut the garden stakes with a tubing cutter to the desired lengths of your candles. The stakes will be the body of your candles so you will want to cut them to whatever length necessary.
Once the candles are cut go ahead and spray them with the desired color. We chose off white, again to imitate the spermaceti candles of the 19th century, but we think they would look great in any color. While your paint is drying we suggest you continue with the construction project at hand.
If you are using the prefabricated commercially available LED votive candles for parts then this would be a good time to begin disassembling then. Save all the parts you might need. Your needs may be different that ours so save everything until you are done. When taking apart the candles be care not to damage the LED bulb or the wires. The plastic flame with pop off the candle body with relative ease and from there you can separate the body.
Now that you have all the parts you need, gently separate the connection between the LED wire and the on/off switch that was soldered to it. Once the connection is broken you can begin assembling your own candles. You will need your soldering iron and solder at this point. Remember the soldering iron his hot and can burn you or something else unintended to be very careful when working with the hot iron or any tool in The Prop Shop. Solder the LED wires to the individual bell wires. We chose door bell wire to make the power connection as we have had a positive experience using it in the past, but it’s not your only choice by any means. Take your bell wire and strip the plastic off it using your wire strippers then solder the connections of the LED to the bell wire. Remember there is a positive and negative connection on the LED so you will need to remember which wire you attach to which end. Typically the positive wires are red and black wires are negative, however bell wires are red and white. We just use a bit of electrical tape to mark the negative wire.
Once your wire has been soldered to the LED you can then wrap the soldered ends with a bit of electrical tape to keep them from touching when pressed together inside the garden stake tubing.
When the parts are assembled gently thread the wire through the garden stake tubing making sure to seat the LED light at the top of the opening of the cut tube. Once the light and wire have been run through the tube attach the plastic flame you saved from the votive lights you took apart earlier. Use a drop of hot glue to old the flame to the body of the candle and let it dry. If you did everything right, you can test your candles by touching the wires to the correct sides of either pole of the 3V battery that came with the votives and watch them light.
With regards to power. You will need to work with that issue yourself, depending on your application. We didn’t have a choice in our use of batteries, however you can adapt LED lights to run on AC/DC, but that’s better saved for another tutorial.