If you follow me on IG you may have seen me recently crowdsourcing some help with picture frame placement in my record player area (and if not, you can see the iPhone pics below). I recently created a little DIY neon sign (for around $20, whoa!) that I felt would be perfect in this area of our home, so I created a small gallery wall around it to help me fit in. I loved how it turned out! It’s a cute little decor item during the day, but at night, it gets even better. 🙂
I created this project in partnership with Canon USA. I used my PIXMA TS9020 to print the background of my neon sign on to semi-gloss photo paper. I love the back feeding feature on my printer because it makes it easier to print just a few items when I’m working on a project like this. I must admit though, I also just love being able to print photos (in general) at home. I was recently at a party and explained how I print all of our personal photos (from parties, from vacations, life, whatever) every month or every other month and having a great photo printer at home makes this a breeze, especially because I often have random iPhone pictures I’ve taken that I can just print directly from my phone. The sky photo in this project was just a photo I took with my phone one day and then printed out for this project. Too easy, right?!
Here’s the random phone snaps I posted on IG. I love using scrap paper (in this case, leftover wrapping paper) to map out a gallery wall before I frame and hang things. This helps me narrow down what I want on the wall, or helps me to realize if I don’t have enough art to make the space feel balanced, etc. I’m sure you could do this in a program like Photoshop as well, but I like actually taping up paper the same size as my frames to see what it feels like IRL. Just a random tip for you all!
So about this (EASY) neon sign. I had been wanting to create something like this for my home and found this awesome tutorial online. I simply modified the basic idea behind that project and created this little light-up rainbow sign for our record player area.
I put together a quick little video tutorial so you can see how simply it really is to create this, and I’ll explain in more detail how to replicate this project if you are interested.
The supplies for this project are pretty common and mostly easy to find, but you may want to purchase your EL wire online as I found more options that way.
EL wire kit (I used this one)
white foam board
glue (I used Elmer’s multi-purpose spray adhesive and Loctite super glue ultra gel)
drill bit or awl
empty photo frame (mine is for an 8×10 photo)
Step One: Print your photo. It should be large enough to fill the photo frame you plan to use.
Step Two: Create a guide for your design on scrap paper. I took my time with a ruler and also the lips of a tupperware set to try and get my rainbow design as symmetrical as possible. You could also freehand a design if you like or use fonts to spell out words.
This step is totally customizable to what design you plan to create! Once you have your guide, use that to transfer the design (in pencil!) to your photo.
Step Three: Trim the photo and adhere to your foam board. If your foam board didn’t already fit inside your photo frame, you’ll want to cut it out first. To adhere this, I used the Elmer’s multi-purpose spray adhesive on this step. You don’t need much!
Step Four: Add holes where the EL wire will begin in your design. I used a combination of a small awl and a 3/32 sized drill bit to create my holes. The goal here is to create clean looking holes that are just large enough for the EL wire to fit through.
If you use different brands or types of wire from what I used, the size of your holes may vary, so just experiment a little on scrap from board to see what will work best for you. Then pull the wire through the holes.
Step Five: Glue the wires in place. I used Loctite super glue gel ultra here because it isn’t runny (it’s gel), so it doesn’t make other parts of my photo look messy.
Plus, it also dries fast, making it easier to get my wires in place, but not have to hold them there for minutes while the glue dries. I am sure other glues could work here, but this is what worked best for me.
Once you have the wires in place, trim off the excess. You can truly just cut the ends of these wires with scissors (crazy, right?!). If you want to add a little glue to the ends of the cut wires just for extra security, go for it.
Step Six: Once the glue is dry (it’s fast!), flip the picture over and tape the back so the back wires will stay in place. The kit I used is battery operated, and the control simply sits behind my record player, where I can turn the sign on and off.
That’s it! Watch the video if you want to see me make this sign from start to finish. There are so many different ways you could customize this for your own space or preferences, but it’s a really fun and easy project that can one could complete in one afternoon once you have all your supplies.
I will say though, the EL wire kit description online said that the wires would not emit heat or sound.
They do stay completely cool, but I think they do emit a small, high-pitched sound when they are turned on. It’s very subtle, so if you have any music playing or if your house isn’t completely silent, then this will not be a problem.
But I just thought I’d mention that in case anyone plans to make this for a bedroom. And on that note, like all DIY light fixtures or projects (or string lights, or Christmas trees, etc.), it’s always a good idea to turn the lights off when you leave your home or when you go to bed.
I also wanted to share everything that’s in my little gallery wall, in case you are curious. The big pink photo display is a DIY from this post (I recently repainted it). The beautiful ice cream and sprinkle photo (probably my favorite photo on this wall) is from Jeff Mindell.
The mostly pink weaving is from Rachel Denbow. The pink and teal weaving is from Juju Just. The pink cocktail photo is one I took from this post, and the other two are from an e-course I taught with Rachel this past year. Thanks for letting me share! xo. Emma
Credits // Author and Photography: Emma Chapman. Video by Statler Visual Co. Music by Jeremy Larson.
I discovered EL wire last year and haven’t had a chance to play with it but I’ve been waiting for more DIYs like this!! Super fun and easy.
This is really pretty, I really want to try it.
so cool i love!
Loved it! ?❤️?
That is so cool! I love those neon wires, and I’ve been wanting to craft something with them for some time now!
Oh, the possibilities. I love the playfulness it adds to the gallery. What a fun project!
This is so striking! I’m a classroom teacher and this looks like the best design to go about my desk, the kids will love it!
A desktop version would be adorable!
I really like the idea of DIYing a neon sign. I’ve always loved the store-bought ones, but it’s so much more satisfying to make it myself. Plus, I can personalise it!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog