I’m so over wiring 12 volt wiring. That’s right, I’m over it!. At first I was excited to wire my entire, three story, 1/12 scale miniature house. After completing only one floor of round wire, I am already looking for alternatives.
My grand scheme was to have round wire lighting throughout the entire mini house. It quickly became apparent that I would need to decide where the lights should go before the house was even built, let alone decorated. That was NOT working since I kept changing my mind about what each room would be. So, what to do, what to do?
Finally I came to a decision. My solution is to have only battery operated LED lights in the rest of the house. BUT, a thorough search of on-line miniature stores turned up the same old boring lights over and over. Oh sure, when I first saw them, I thought that they were cute. Then I realized that none of them are very original and ALL of them have the same look to them. Well, to be completely truthful, there are some extraordinary lamps out there, but they are very expensive and way out of my league price wise.
So, not only am I having battery operated lights but I’m going to make them myself. At the beginning of this mini journey, I went on e-bay and bid on lots of vintage lighting. I found out that “vintage” means in very poor condition despite the descriptions. Old, cracking and crazing, yellowed plastic, chips, bad wiring and out of scale sizes.
OK, I thought, “Bummer, but I can use these as parts for my new lights and make them pretty again.” Now it is just a matter of taking a lamp that was wired for 12 volt and rewiring them into 3 volt fixtures. There are all kinds of 3 volt battery situations- this DIY is for one of many options. Read on to see how you, too, can make your own mini 3 volt LED light out of an old 12 volt fixture AND hide the wires as well.
To start, you will need to choose an LED chip light for it’s VERY thin wires, a 3 volt battery and a cell holder with an on-off switch. I ordered mine online from Evans Designs. The reason that I went with thin wires is that I needed to gut the old lamp of it’s 12 volt wiring and install the new LED light.
You can order here if you like. The site tells you about LED lighting so it’s a good place to start looking if this is your first foray into this mini light world.
While I was brain storming a way to hide the battery pack and on/off switch. My AHA moment came when I thought about my bedroom lamp that is too short to read by. To fix that I raised the lamp by setting it on a stack of books. Yes! Let’s make a lamp that has the battery pack INSIDE a book.
Cut a piece of foam core a little larger than the cell battery holder. This is going to be your faux book. Then trace the outline of the holder onto the foam core.
Use the X-acto knife cut out the part of the foam where I will nestle the holder. Leave the bottom layer of paper on the foam core intact.
Print out a book cover from the internet.Glue it to thin chipboard or cardstock to make a book cover. Color the edges with a marker that matches your book cover.
( Remember to only use copyright free images (really old books) if you plan on selling your mini makes.
Glue the cover to the foam core. I had to add little strips of chipboard because my foam core was a little thinner than the cell holder.
Leave the back cover free of glue so that you can open and close the book in case you ever need to change the battery.
Now you have a cute little faux book to store your battery pack. Next you will have to rip out the 12 volt wiring from your old lamp. Now you can paint the lamp if you like. Then you can thread the new wires through the lamp base and you will be ready to hook up to the battery pack.
Remember to slip the shrink tube sleeves onto your wire BEFORE you twist them together. I clipped the wires on my chip light so that I would have less wire to hide. Use your knife to scrape the varnish off the wire ends so that you will get a good connection when you twist.
To connect the light to the battery holder, you will twist the RED wire to RED wire and black to green. Slip the shrink tubes over the exposed wires and heat.
This is what the wires look like from behind the table.
Once you place the lamp onto a table and push it to the wall, the battery pack and shortened lamp wires will be hidden. Yay!
You can stack a lot of books under the lamp to make a cute, informal reading nook too.