DIY ‘Neon’ Light On A Budget

28/02/2017 ,

Now let’s start off by being honest here, It’s not actually neon because that shizz takes skill and training and I ain’t got that BUT it does look really cool. This DIY is super easy, effective and costs a mere £20 to make, Oh hello bargain!

What you will need: 

A Piece of wood of your choice

Metallic leaf Adhesive

Gold leaf sheets

A drill

Super glue

3.2mm EL Wire

A Soft Bristle Brush

This chunk of scaffolding board was laying around as remnants from making our dining table and the metallic sheets adhesive and the soft bristle brush were collecting dust from my pre Ray craft days in my bureau. The Gold Leaf and EL Wire are really easy to get hold of on the internet and there are loads of different colours/types to choose from.

Choose Your Surface… 

I originally wanted to make (or more so I wanted Jim to make) an MDF box but we had this spare chunk of scaffolding board here not being used for anything so I went with that and I’m so glad I did. The texture of the wood with the gold leaf is just, Mmm perfection!

I gave it a light sand with fine sandpaper to help steer away from splinter territory but it actually didn’t NEED it.


Draw out your design on paper the same size as your wood and mark out where the wire will needed to be threaded in and back out again. This could result in 2 holes being quite close together but I didn’t find this a problem when drilling or threading. Do remember the very last hole is where the wire will need to go through to the back on the board.

To Gold Leaf Or Not To Gold Leaf…

Well I think it may already be apparent which route I went down. I changed my mind from smooth painted MDF box to this metallic marvel. Depending how you want your gold leaf to look it can actually be really quite simple to apply. It’s so thin and fragile that it does take time but I love that lived in/vintage look it can give when the edges crease and crumple up or when theres still little flecks of wood showing through. It’s just so dreamy to look at.

Start with this by applying a thin layer of adhesive starting in one corner and working your way across. I applied it in 10cm squared patches because it’s been a long time, 6years in fact since I last used this stuff, I didn’t know how well it was going to go. Once the adhesive starts to go clear carefully apply one by one with your fingers tips and pat down (is that even a technical term?) with the soft bristled brush.

Carry on over all the area you want bling’d up and leave it to dry completely.

 Get Out The Power Tools…

Now here is where I roped in my husband. I’m not sure I can be trusted with a drill just yet. Lay your paper design on top of your wood for guidance and drill where you made the marks for your holes to go. The drill bit will need to be wide enough for your El wire to fit through but not be too loose either.

Now Thread…

When your El Wire wire comes it will arrive with a small plastic cap on the very end. Take this off and keep it safe.

Thread the whole length of wire through at your starting point towards the front of the board leaving the battery pack at the back. I should probably point out here, if you haven’t already done so, insert batteries and check your wire works. Now you can start threading through your design. It’s a little bit like big scale embroidery or those card and laces sewing kits from school.

When you get to the very end, find your little plastic cap and pop it back on.

Super Glue Is My Best Pal…

See all those bits that wont quite lay flat? Well now it’s time to super glue those bad boys down. You can a hot glue gun or the usual tube super glue variety and I went with the latter. Do be warned though, the super glue seemed to take ages to dry. I had to weigh down each section as it was glued with various weighty household items until it was just dry enough to stay where it was.

And voila, you have yourself a DIY ‘neon’ light on a very small budget.

I’ve actually made this light for the Gin table at my joint 1920’s themed birthday bash (30, bleurgh) in the next couple of weeks but I am pretty certain it will live somewhere in the house after. It will be surrounded by pearl and crystal bowls, glasses and decanters full of ingredients to ‘Pimp Your Gin’


Social Media professional, metal-loving mother-of-two. Devoted wife and serious admirer of the 90’s! I do home, hair, beauty, life, love & family, what else is there?

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