01 of 08
Make Dollhouse Luminarias Lit With Battery Operated LED Lights
These miniature luminarias or farolitos can be made for a dollhouse or model scene or used on door wreaths, or centerpieces for Christmas and Halloween displays. The luminarias are lit with tiny LEDs that are battery operated. If made correctly, and used safely, the cool running LED light will not be a problem.
You make the luminarias on a base, so you can set them at the correct distance apart for your miniature scene and cover the base with snow, sand or soil, to suit your season and display.
For the safest Luminarias, use kitchen baking parchment paper which can withstand heat. The LED set I used is battery operated and very cool running (see the review of Evan Designs LED sets similar LED's and the battery cases and batteries to run them can be found in hobby electronics stores and electrical supply outlets. The scale shown in the photo above is made using 1:12 scale sandwich bags. Instructions for making miniature sandwich and grocery bags include a folding template.
The miniature terrier shown in the photograph is made from the instructions to make a poseable miniature dog with needle felting techniques.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Materials Used to Make Miniature and Model Scale Luminaria
Continue to 3 of 8 below.
- Parchment paper or thin kraft paper and the template to make sandwich size bags in your particular scale from the miniature grocery bag instructions
- PVA (white) glue
- Sharp scissors
- Hole punch and awl or needle
- Scraps of craft wood
- Piece of card the length you want for your display
- Sand or faux snow to cover the card base.
- Tiny LED lights like a battery-operated LED lighting set from Evan Designs which will work with up to 10 LEDs. You can also use strings of small dome-shaped LED lights or strips of LEDs (lights must be LED's or there is a danger of fire). Do not use miniature Christmas lights unless they are cool running LEDs.
03 of 08
Prepare the Miniature Paper Bags for the Luminaria
Most luminarias are made with sandwich-sized paper bags, filled with sand and lit with a tea light. For the dollhouse scale luminaria, you will need to make miniature sandwich bags in your choice of scales using the templates provided with the sandwich bag instructions.
Before you begin to glue your miniature bags together (see the sandwich bag instructions) you will need to punch or prick out designs on the sides of your luminaria bags. This is best done when the bags are flat after the fold lines have been made (see photo). As luminaria usually have the top edges turned down to make the bag sturdier in wind, you should turn the top edges of the bags down before you assemble and glue them.
Finally, you will need to use a hole punch to punch a hole large enough to allow you to fit the bag over your LED light. The hole must be punched in the bottom of the bag before it is assembled (see photo above).Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Setting up the Base For the Miniature Scale Luminaria Lights
To set up a base for your set of miniature luminaria, cut a piece of lightweight card to the length you want your luminaria to be, or a length that will hold the number of lights you want on your 'string'. Punch holes large enough for your LED lights at the intervals you want to set your luminaria. The luminaria can be set so they are side on or face on your base. (I set my face on in the example). The base should be roughly twice as wide as the width of your luminaria so that the assembly is easy to stabilize.
Prepare the LEDs for Your Luminaria Base
If your LEDs have straight wires out of the "bulb," you can gently bend them with plier or tweezers as shown, so that the LEDs will stick up out of the base. You want your LEDs to be set to a height roughly halfway up your miniature paper bag or lower, so the light will shine out the holes you made for the design on the side of your bag.
When you have your LEDs bent, insert the light through the hole in the card strip, and tape the light and the wires to the underside of the card base, running all the wires back to the same end of the card strip.
Some LED strings will not need to be bent, just inserted through the card and taped on the backside. This type of LED is more like a low dome and is the type usually found on small commercial light strings. Check that all wiring on these strings is safely covered before you tape your LED string to the card.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Assembling the Wiring for Miniature Luminaria Lit by LED's
If you are using LED light strips or strings of dome-shaped LEDs, your lights will already be in a string. If you are using individual LEDs or the sets from Evan Designs, you will need to join all the wires which are red by twisting them together, setting a piece of heat shrink electrical tubing over the wires (this is supplied in Evans light sets), then twisting on the same colored line from the battery case to the twisted wires, covering the wires with heat shrink tubing, and heat shrinking the tubing in place with a hairdryer or embossing heat gun or torch.
When you have connected the wires of one color to the battery pack, use the same method of twisting, and covering with heat shrink tubing, to connect the black wires and the battery pack.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Test the Light System for Your Miniature Luminaria
With your light runs assembled, insert a battery and test that your LEDs are all wired correctly. Make sure all bare wires are covered, so there is no danger of sparks and run your system long enough to check the amount of heat your lights put out. The lights must run cool enough to be safe close to the paper.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Glue the Miniature Scale Luminaria to the Lighting Run Base
With your lights in place and checked, it is time to glue the luminaria over the lights. Gently fit the hole in the base of your luminaria bags over each LED light on your base. Line the bags up in the direction you want them to face, and glue the base of each luminaria neatly to the card. Make sure the light inside the luminaria does not directly touch the side of your luminaria bags. There must be some space around each LED for airflow. If your bags are too small for your bulbs you may need to make larger bags.
Leave to dry thoroughlyContinue to 8 of 8 below.
08 of 08
Finish the Base of the Miniature Luminaria Set
To finish the base of your miniature luminaria, apply a thin layer of PVA glue to the card, and sprinkle the card with faux snow, flocking, fine decorator sand, or dried potting soil to cover the card. Choose a cover based on where you will be setting your luminaria in your scene. Also plan on where you will site any extra cord or battery packs. Allow the coating to dry, and install the miniature luminaria in your scene.