I made my first glass fairy bottle almost 10 years ago, before I’d really started on my LED maker journey. It went a little viral on Pinterest and with good reason.. these little bottles are stunningly gorgeous and super easy to make. Put lights inside, and it feels like you’ve captured Tinkerbell or Samantha from Bewitched, and she’s so happy in there that she refuses to come out.
See the full build tutorial on the Adafruit Learning System: https://learn.adafruit.com/four-seasons-fairy-bottle-lanterns/overview
The first iteration was simple.. put a strand of fairy lights inside and watch the bottle glow. Here’s a how-to video for that version:
Next, I used the same technique to make a magic trick, using capacitive touch keyholes to make the bottle change colors. Here’s a link to the tutorial for that version.
Next I made a version with color-changing LEDs strung between several bottles, and decorated my bedroom with them. I used LED components from Cool Neon, with an RGB LED strip cut apart and connected with telephone wire. I could change the colors of the bottles all together with the included remote control, but couldn’t talk to the bottles individually or make any interesting LED animations. I generally just left them on “white light” all the time, since canned LED animations are always incredibly annoying, flashing “Red! Green! Blue! RedGreenBlue!!” and making one feel as though one is inside an underground Robot Bar in Tokyo, which is NOT the feel I was going for.
Finally, I feel this artwork has reached its full potential. Working with Adafruit.com, this installation features nine fairy bottles hanging from a faux oak tree, in my guest room. The bottles all contain NeoPixel LEDs, and are controlled by a Circuit Playground Express. This means I can add animation, and have ultimate control over colors, brightness, and the feel of the room.
Since they’re hanging from a tree, my vision was to create four different color/light modes, one that invokes each of the four seasons. For summer, I created a beautiful slowly shifting rainbow animation (a far cry from the flashy, jerky rainbow animation in the previous version!). The colors are buttery smooth and the changes are slow and lazy. It’s subtle, and anything but annoying.
For autumn I wanted a candle flame / flicker effect. I made it look like each bottle has a small candle inside, and they flicker in the most delightful way, creating such a cozy feel — there’s nothing more romantic than a tree lit by candlelight.
For winter, I created a raindrop animation punctuated by the occasional flash of lightning. This animation is so relaxing, and yet exciting at the same time! Everyone who watches this one starts listening for the thunder (so I may need to add some sound effects!).
For spring, I created a colorful, swirling animation with lots of energy and life, that still manages to stay far, far away from the RedGreenBlue flashing that most people think of, when they think of LED animation. It’s gorgeous, and it flows and swirls and twinkles in the prettiest way, injecting energy gently into the room below.
Here are a few more photos and a video, for your viewing pleasure. The lower part of the ceiling features my Zodiac Mandala Mural, and is crowned by this gorgeous vinyl Sun and Moon mural (created from a favorite photo of my husband and I). Enjoy, and let me know what you think!