It was at some point after Christmas that I found an extra two boxes of LED tree lights in our basement. They’d never been opened and I didn’t know why we had them, but I certainly didn’t feel like going outside to get the Christmas bin out of storage.
|UPDATE: This playhouse has since been dismantled because all of the playhome pieces (kitchen, doll bed, etc.) have been relocated to beneath the new loft bed. Sunrise, sunset.|
I looked across the room and saw a couple of canvas prints someone had given me, knowing I’d turn them into something or just repaint them. I had a total lightbulb (Lite Brite?) moment and decided to turn those strings of lights and the biggest canvas into a little piece of ’80s nostalgia.
|This canvas needed a new life.|
The first step was painting over the city skyline with matte black paint. I used Fusion Mineral Paint in Coal Black, leftover from when I painted my closet doors.
|Remember this DIY?|
Once the paint was dry, I actually measured (I know, right?) and drew a grid lightly in pencil so my light bulbs would be evenly spaced. In each intersection, I made a hole — at first with an X-acto knife, and then with a pencil.
It’s easy to poke through canvas, but the trick is not to make too large of a rip.
After I’d punched the grid full of holes, I flipped the canvas over and started poking the lightbulbs through. When I got to the end of a string, I just plugged in another and kept going.
I had so many left over, in fact, that I ended up going back and sticking more bulbs through the spaces in between — making it more like a traditional Lite-Brite.
When every space was filled, I tucked the remaining few bulbs behind the cords (you couldn’t see them through the canvas) and flipped the whole thing back over.
Some of the bulbs were poking straight through, while others were twisting to the sides. I used my glue-gun to fill any large canvas holes, secure the bulbs in place and try to make them as straight as possible.
The final step was taking more black paint and a tiny craft brush to cover up the grid lines. I also painted over any hot-glue globs to disguise them.
When the paint was dry, I carried the canvas down to the playroom and set it on top of a big shelving system we built recently. I leaned it against the wall, hid the power cord, and used a Christmas tree light remote so I could flip the lights on and off without rummaging for the cord.
The result is pretty fantastic light-up art, and it’s perfect for the playroom. The kids get such a kick of turning on “the big Lite-Brite” and playing hide-and-seek in the darkness with it glowing on the wall.
Not bad for a zero-dollar project, and it’s a nice throwback to playtime in the ’90s.