Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Glowing Mushroom Mood Light Full Tutorial

I've been asked to share a piece that was published a few years ago so folks across the pond could make them. I loved making these glowing mushrooms and hope you do too!

The mycena lux-coeli mushroom grows in Japan. It is a bio-luminescent mushroom that blooms during rainy season and only shows for a few damp days. I wanted to try to keep this very cool glowing mushroom around a little longer, so I decided to make it from Fimo effects clay and add a little battery power to help it out.  

Things you will need to make the mushroom night light:
STAEDTLER Fimo soft and effect one 56g block of each in the following colours:
                Translucent red # - 204
                Translucent # - 014
                White# -0
                Caramel # - 07
                Night Glow # - 04
One piece of driftwood roughly 12in x 5in x 4in
Micro lamps 12V – 60 mA – wire terminal base you’ll need one bulb for each mushroom I show five.
9 volt battery holder – you’ll need three, and screws to attach them
Battery snap connectors with colour coded wire for 9 volt batteries – you’ll need three
Electrical tape
9 volt batteries – you’ll need two
Micro mini toggle switch (if you want to switch your glow on and off instead of unhooking batteries)
22 gauge hook up wire

Tools needed to complete this project:
Wire cutters
Double round nose pliers
Wire strippers
1/8th in wooden dowel 
Drill and drill bits I used a 3/16ths inch bit
Clay roller or pasta roller for clay
Soldering iron and Flux solder (optional)

Mix a tiny sliver of caramel coloured FIMO soft with a half block of Fimo effect translucent by rolling and twisting the clay until you have a wood grain looking marble. Flatten the clay to 1/8th of an inch and roll it around a 1/8th inch wooden dowel, smoothing the seams with your fingertips. Gently roll the clay covered dowel onto a flat surface to loosen the clay from the wood. Slide the clay tube off the wooden dowel and give the clay tube a slight bend. Make at least five of these tubes of different lengths, no longer than 3in and no shorter than 1 ½ in. Bake these tubes at 230 degrees for 15 minutes and allow them to cool.

 Mix the other half of the translucent Fimo effect with a half block of the nightglow clay until an even colour is achieved. Flatten this new colour and a block of Fimo effect in translucent red. Roll a Skinner blend sheet of these two colours that is 10in long by 2in wide. 

Roll the Skinner blend sheet up starting with the translucent red end to create a tight cane.

Take ¼ in slices from this cane with a sharp blade and pinch them into hollow mushroom tops. Make five tops. The taller the mushroom cap is the easier it will be to fit in the light. Bake these mushroom tops at 230 degrees for 15 minutes and allow them to cool off.

Mix half of the white Fimo soft with the last half of the night glow effects clay until an even colour is achieved. Flatten this new colour to a 1/8th in sheet. Use a cookie cutter that is roughly the same size as the bottom of your mushroom top, or cut a circle with the tip of a craft knife. Use a toothpick or a needle tool to push radiating lines into each circle.

Trim a hole in the center of these radiated circles that are the same size as the end of each mushroom stem.

Flip the circle over so the radiating lines are on the work surface and place a mushroom cap on top. Trim away the excess clay with the tip of a craft knife. Smooth the edge of each mushroom by gently pinching with your fingertips. Bake these at 230 degrees for 15 minutes.

Make a tiny worm of white Fimo soft clay and make a collar for each mushroom stem about a ½ in from the end of each stem. Cut small segments of worm and press them onto the mushroom caps to create spots. I left mine rough and spiky but you can smooth them out. Bake all the pieces on final time at 230 degrees for 15 minutes and allow them to cool completely.

Place a mushroom cap on each stem to check for fit. The stems should fit snugly inside each cap without need for adhesive. I didn't want to glue anything in to make rewiring or replacing lights easier.

Drill a hole through your piece of driftwood. The back end of the hole should be well hidden when viewing the piece from the front. This is where we will mount the batteries. The front or viewed side will be where the mushrooms will appear to be growing out of the driftwood. Try to choose a spot where the base of the mushrooms will be slightly hidden. I chose to mount my mushrooms in a fork in my driftwood. Drill another hole about ¾ in from the first hole and angle the drill so it will exit out of the front of the first hole. The holes will have two holes in the back of the piece and only one front hole.

With the double round nose pliers, coil the bulb wires into two loops. Make sure to angle them away from each other so they don’t touch.

Cut ten pieces of connecting wire to 6in. Use the wire strippers to remove one inch of the protective cover from the wire. Bend the tip of the wire into a hook shape and hook it through a coiled bulb wire and twist the remaining wire gently to secure. (If you have the means you can solder these connections before wrapping them with electrical tape.)

Carefully cover the wire bits right up to the bulb with a very small piece of electrical tape. Place the wire on the edge of the tape and roll the tape over to cover the exposed wire bits.

Fold the second wire over this covered wire and roll it tightly in the tape. The two raw wires can’t touch or the piece won’t light.

Put the cut ends of the wire down through a mushroom stem and pull gently until just the bulb sticks out from the top end.

Put the mushroom cap back on and test the bulb by putting one bare wire end from the bottom of the mushroom stem onto a positive terminal on the 9 volt battery and the other onto the negative terminal. The battery should light up the bulb. If it doesn't, check your connections and make sure that the wire hasn't broken inside the tape from excessive twisting.  Finish each mushroom this way.

Connect the mushrooms together using the diagram. 

The first and last mushrooms in the chain will have a wire long enough to go completely through the driftwood you have chosen and hook up to the battery connection on the other side. It’s always better to have too much wire than not enough. Tape each connection well.

Thread the two long wires connected to the first and last mushrooms through the driftwood. Check connections by testing with a battery.  Attach battery clips onto the back of the driftwood. Make sure the batteries will be well hidden by the driftwood when viewing the piece. Connect battery wires to the wires coming out of the back of the driftwood. Trim all wires to fit the sculpture as you connect each set. It will make hiding the wires easier when you’re finished.  Clip the batteries in place.

If adding a switch, you can choose one of the wires coming from the back of the driftwood to attach it to and connect the other side of the switch to a battery wire. Make sure each connection is wrapped with electrical tape and secure. Push the switch into the hole in the back of the driftwood. You may have to chisel out a trough between the two holes for the wire to sit in beside the switch.

Here are the mushrooms both lit and unlit. They won’t give you enough light to read from, but they will give you a pretty glow. 

Never leave your glowing mushrooms unattended. 
Remove the batteries when the piece isn't in use.


Anonymous said...

this is the most amazing thing i've seen on the internet all week.
thank you for explaining your process, it's beautiful!

lucy-lu said...

I usually don't make comments on peoples sites, But I just had to tell you how very much I enjoyed your site, very cute, & very cute baby. Thanks for sharing your craft ideas. by now, lucy-lu