Friday, June 1, 2018

Light 'em up!

When I first saw this FREE Lighthouse Scene Card file from Bird's SVGs I was already in love with it. Such a nice clean design and I really like lighthouses. In fact, here are a few I cross-stitched back in the day before e-cutters and paper crafting took over my creative life! 

And now that I'm looking at those old projects, I think I want to create a new mat for the picture on the left - it needs some stamping or patterned paper I think. Adding that to my to do list!

Anyway, I couldn't resist the urge to make Bird's lighthouse really shine.  Last year I had some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket, so I treated myself to a Chibitronics starter kit and started teaching myself how to build light circuits into my paper projects.  The book that comes with the starter kit is great at teaching you the basics, and I've learned a lot more by reading posts and watching the accompanying videos on the Chibitronics blog.

I'm still very much learning as I go along, but am happy to share what I did to make this particular card. I made some minor errors along the way, but I'll tell you when NOT to do what I did!

I cut out all of the pieces in Bird's file, but also added two extra solid squares of the lightest cardstock using the same height and width dimensions as the top two darker layers. I used these to build my light circuit.

First, I traced around the main window area of the lighthouse so that I knew where to add a cutout for the light to shine through. Had I thought this through in advance, I probably could have done this on my Cricut, but in this case I just traced it and cut it out with a knife. It doesn't have to be perfect, nobody will see it. I'm going to call this WINDOW LAYER.

Next, I used the other extra square that I cut out to once again trace just the center of the window area to find the center point where I will stick my light down. You can see other tracing of the lighthouse and landscape shapes, but you can just ignore those. I changed my mind about the switch type I was going to use mid-project, and those markings became unnecessary. I'm calling this one the CIRCUIT LAYER.

Next, I added a double layer of vellum to the BACK of the darkest blue, top lighthouse layer window area. Again, I probably could have made Cricut cut this out for me, but it was easy enough to do by hand with some vellum scraps. And here's another thing to ignore - the strips of light blue paper backing the lighthouse's smaller windows are NOT necessary! I was making it up as I went along and just made extra work for myself. Go me!

Now comes the fun part - building the circuit!  I'm not going to go into too much detail as you will learn how to do this in the chibitronics starter book, but I appreciate being able to see how others create their circuits and learn from it. So here it is. It's not pretty, but nobody is going to see it, so don't worry about that. I wish I had taken more pictures as I went, but I always get so caught up in lighting the light that I forgot. 

First I draw out the circuit on the CIRCUIT LAYER square that we marked earlier with the window center point. That little triangle sticker is the chibitronic light sticker and the yellow spot in the center of the sticker is the LED bulb.  That's the part that you will want centered in the lighthouse window. I draw a small triangle there to mark where the sticker will go.

The next thing I did was decide where I was going to put my battery. I'm using a push button switch for this card, so you need to place the battery where you will want to have a push spot on the front of the card.  You can trace around the battery or just draw a circle where it will go.

The battery will be housed in a little folder of sorts that helps complete the circuit.  I used a scrap of cardstock large enough to fold around the battery and glued one side of it down where I wanted to battery to be.  Next I added the copper tape.

I'm going to save myself a lot of writing here and just share a link to a video by Jennifer McGuire where she demonstrates building a chibitronics circuit. It's so much easier than trying to write it out in a way that makes sense. 

I used some score tape inside the folder to stick the battery down. Glue works just fine too, but takes longer to dry.  Remember to make sure that you have the positive and negative sides facing the way you want before you stick it!

In the picture above you can ignore the extra little cross piece of copper tape on the left side of the folder. I had a small piece leftover and stuck it there for extra contact and to remind me that it was the positive side. It's not necessary at all.  

Finally, you are going to take your chibi light sticker and stick it down OVER the copper tape. I've seen some of the chibitronics design team folks use extra little pieces of copper tape over the top of the light sticker for extra strong contact in the circuit and have done the same here. 

Now you can press down on the battery folder to see if your LED lights up - it should!

Next I added a bunch of foam tape around the sides and battery area. The battery area should have an extra layer of foam tape so that you have to push down on the folder flap to make the circuit light up. Otherwise, if the copper tape was making constant contact, the light would just stay lit until the battery died. Again, Jennifer does a great job of showing you exactly what to do in her video.

Here's my CIRCUIT LAYER before I added the top layers to it:

I neglected to take photos of the next steps (because I was busy amusing myself with the light), but just follow Bird's directions for adding the darkest top layer of the card to the middle layer and then you can glue those two on top of the WINDOW LAYER created earlier.  Once that's done, you can just peel off the backing of the foam tape on your circuit layer and attach the front layers to your circuit layer.  I generally only take the backing off of the tape around the perimeter of the card. On the inside, it doesn't matter if it's sticky or not, it's really just there for support.

Once all of the layers are stuck together, you can glue that onto the front of the card.  Jennifer mentions that she makes a note inside the card to let the recipient know about the light feature, but there are other ways.  I found this fun stamp/die set from Lawn Fawn which is perfect for making interactive cards.  I used it to make a 'push here' button which I adhered over the battery location on the front of the card.

Now just try to keep yourself from playing with the button!

I'm sure I've managed to make this seem much more complicated than it actually is. Watch Jennifer's video. Check out the Chibitronics blog. Let your imagination go wild and let's light all the things!!


  1. Your card is fantastic Lee! How perfect that your lighthouse shines so bright! Anyone would love to play with this for hours, I'm tempted to try this myself :)
    - Bird

  2. ...and I love your cross-stitch too! :)

  3. I LOVE IT <3 Absoulutly a brilliant idea to use chibitronics for the lighthouse :-)

  4. amazing...I made the lighthouse card....but this makes it even cooler. thx for sharing