DIY wall of lights

I often start projects that I know I will dislike within the first few minutes.  This was definitely one of those projects!  It wasn’t hard or complicated, just super tedious and time consuming.  However, I am really pleased with the final result and am excited to put it to use.  I love the bokeh effect produced with Christmas lights and wanted to make a light wall to use for an upcoming newborn session.  The little lady was born on Christmas Eve so I thought it would be fitting.  Here is what I used and how I did it (I will let you share in the painstaking process, lucky you).

Materials-

1 8×4 sheet of 1/8″ Eucaboard

3 cans of Krylon brushed metallic Satin spray paint (I used Champagne and Latte)

8-10  100 count light strings of Christmas lights (in white)

Drill

Extension cords

lots of patience

I started with my piece of Eucaboard. Available at Home Depot, this is like chip board but made of eucalyptus.  You could use any kind of wood sheeting, I just wanted something lightweight, inexpensive, and smooth on one side (for painting).  I cut it down by a foot to make it a little bit more manageable.  I chose a drill bit as close to the size of the bulb in the light strings as possible.  Then I started drilling.  I drilled 800, yes 800! holes.  I didn’t realize drilling was quite such a workout on your triceps!  I wanted less of an organized pattern but more of a starlight effect so I drilled randomly.  I gave myself a break after each 100.  Two bits of advice here- one, don’t do this indoors.  It was too cold in the garage so I did it in the living room, complete mess.  Two, make sure you drill through the smooth side of the Eucaboard.  You don’t want the paper bits that hang out from the drill hole to show.  Once my arm would no longer hold the drill up, I took it in the garage to spray paint it (even I wouldn’t spray paint inside).  I suppose you could leave the board as is, but I didn’t want such a strong contrast beween the board and the lights in my final images so I painted it a lighter colour.  I chose a metallic colour to reflect more of the light and a satin finish to reduce any glare in case I was using flash.  I used two different colours, champagne and latte. Mostly because there was only one bottle left of champagne at Michael’s, but also because I thought a mottled effect might look good.  The paint job doesn’t have to be perfect because of course, it is hardly visible once the bokeh on each light overlaps.  It took three bottles and very frozen hands to cover the whole board.  I probably should have done the painting first and then the drilling so that no dried paint clogged the holes. But using spray paint worked out just fine.

Painted board

Finally, when it was dry, I brought it in and started pushing lights through holes.  This is the step that takes the longest.  A gentle hand and some patience is needed or you end up with a lot of broken bulbs.  I drilled the holes to just fit the lights.  A few bulbs are a tad bigger so I poked a screwdriver through first to enlarge the hole.  I used eight and a half strands because I left a length coming off the board to reach the wall outlet.

Only 200 lights left to go!!!

A tip here that I discovered (once I had poked all the lights through), is that the strands of light get dimmer the more strands you connect.  This makes for an uneven light distribution in your photo.  So in the end I ran one extension cord for two sets of lights.  This is definitely a little reminiscent of Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation!  I was half expecting for the breaker to blow when I plugged it in. But no short circuit, I plugged the lights in and et voilá!  It worked!

board with lights inserted

So this doesn’t look so fantastic and rather DIY.  I stepped a few feet back from the board and gradually blurred my focus to get the results below.

There is nothing like a little bit of festive lights to improve your mood.  I am excited to use it with baby Tatum and a post of the final images will follow.  Happy DIY-ing!

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