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Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Fireflies are out!

To be honest, I really didn't know if this was something that could be done or not, so it was with the old adage ,"where there is a will there is a way", that I set out on this odyssey to make fireflies for my fairies promenade. No one I know of had done this before, and everywhere I asked, no-one had a clue how to go about it.
  The Cir-kit light people had christmas tree lights but nothing to make them twinkle. Other people had suggestions like circuit boards and weird wiring, but none of that really made any sense for something so simple. I have always been under the understanding that of you broke things down to the simplest way possible then build up from there you could create anything.
  And that is just what I did. I only wish I could show you what it looks like when the fireflies are lightning.
  There is only one place that I know of that has this kind of light, and thats Evan Designs, in Broomfield, Co. At this time they mostly have Train supplies, although they are beginning to move into the area of dollhouse designs. When I called she, didn't bat an eye and after discussing what I wanted to do, we came up with this solution as far as which light to use. They are called LED's. And these don't throw any kind of heat, which makes them perfect for what I wanted them for. They have two different flash rates, fast and slow, with another one really slow. They come in colors {although she didn't have the color I needed, it wasn't a problem}, and you can paint them any shade you want, if they don't have the color you want.
  It does take a different kind of transformer, which I bought from them just to be on the safe side, and I would have had to get one anyway. I got 9 lights for 9 fireflies. 
  Then I pulled out my stash of tissue paper, and selected 2 different shades of yellow, an orange, a red, and a green for the flies body. If you know what they look like they are kind of ugly for so wonderful a little nightlight. When they fly the outer body cover {which is a kind of greenish or reddish color.  } spreads out as wings.. It has been some time sense I caught fireflies in Texas, as a kid. Then the body part does this intermittent twinkling of light. The light is a yellow with maybe a greenish cast to it. I believe it is the males that light as a way to draw the attention of the females for mating.  You had to judge how far the firefly would fly before it would light again, and in which direction, in order to catch one, as it's after dark when they come out. It wasn't always easy to do that. and one could spend some time trying to catch just one. lol... I spent a lot of time chasing fireflies, and that was half the fun.
  I used a ginkgo leaf paper cuter and a large circle to cut out the shapes I needed out of the tissue paper. Two of each yellows, and orange, then a circle of the red and the green. Cut the green in half but not all the way, just half way down the circle.
  I used Quick dry Aleene's tacky glue, and sparingly. Fold the first light yellow leaf over the end of the LED, and dot a tiny dot of glue to it, where you will overlap the edge of another yellow over it. These first couple will be with the stem side toward the wire ends. You will turn the rest of the stems more towards towards the middle as you layer the tissue on the light. I didn't glue right to the light bulb, but I'll bet one could and not have a lot of trouble, as these don't burn hot at all, even after hours of being on.
  The next layer is the darker yellow and glue it with the stem part more towards the middle. Always folding around the light bulb. Then the orange layer, with the end of the leaf sticking out a bit over the end of the bulb. I wanted the bulb to be hidden under the tissue paper, so keep this in mind while you are gluing the paper on.
   Now the next layer is the red circle, and you will be folding it loosely around the others and covering all of them but, you will be folding the edges back in a kind of V shape, to allow the yellow/orange part to show. The point of the V is out over the end of the light and the round edges are folded back toward the center. 
  After this is the green wings. Glue the uncut part, around the stem, with the cut part separated and to the sides of the of the red/yellow/orange part. It almost looks like some kind of a bud for a strange flower. But when they light, you see the beauty of a firefly.
  When you are done, all the wires are twisted together onto the transformer wires.{They send directions for this with the transformer.} I had 14" lead wires on the bulbs but I can bet longer ones could be used. When you have finished off the wire part {electrical tape or wire nut?} then you can plug in your transformer. I can bet that an on off switch could be installed to make turning it on and off easier. {I didn't get that far with the excitement of actually making fireflies}. When they first fire, it will be together, then as they turn on and off, the individual lights will start to fire at random, making it look like a bunch of fireflies trying to attract attention.
  In the dark, it really works! So I have fireflies!!! If you think why go to all that trouble... well, like anything that's worth doing, it's worth doing right and I wanted these to give the look of wings fluttering, around a body. The multi-color tissue gives a more convincing look to it as well. Better then just one color, as nothing is only one color, but a multi combination. Think Irish green and you see what I mean.
I can bet this will also work for twinkle tree lights on the Christmas tree.
So there you have it,.....  how to make fireflies, from a little old grandma in montana.

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