I’m a big fan of LED cards – and they’re a lot easier to make than you might think! Even better, the component pieces are SO inexpensive nowadays that you can make a really sophisticated card for…really, pennies! Here’s a tutorial – it really isn’t hard to do, but my svg file makes it even easier and uses your cutting machine to actually draw where to put your batteries, bulbs and copper wire! It features Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, and I’ve designed it to be foolproof! (After all…if I can do it…!) So let’s get started!
To make an LED Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer Christmas Card you will need:
- Small amount of conductive copper tape (you’ll use less than 30cm!) – 5mm wide is ideal
- 1.8mm LED lights (I used white but you can use any as the bulb sits behind paper!)
- Small amount of glitter vinyl (for the sentiment)
- Tiny piece of red tissue paper
- A4 or letter-sized cardstock in white (for the circuit), tan (for reindeer face), and blue (for the background) – obviously you can change colours if you wish!
- CR2032 Lithium Cell battery
- Foam adhesive tape
- PVA glue
- My foolproof SVG file that does all the heavy lifting for you!
- Tiny scraps of vinyl in black, white and cream (I used Oracal 651 I had left over from other projects)
- Cricut with fine point blade and scoring tool (the stylus, or wheel – or, since the score lines are only straight, you can use a ballpoint pen that’s run out or the end of a pair of scissors to score)
- Optional: Hera bone marker (to iron out creases in the copper wire)
Preparing the Cut File for your LED Christmas Card:
- In Design Space, open a New Project and click on ‘Import Images’.
- Choose the file you’ve downloaded – it’ll be ‘rudolphcard.svg’ (or whatever format your machine uses). Your canvas will show the design.
- Click on the design on the canvas and choose ‘Ungroup’ from the top of the right-hand margin.
- You’ll see there’s a big black rectangle – click on it, and click on ‘Ungroup’ again. Select it again, and in the right-hand margin (where it will be highlighted) click on the black circle. The layers attribute panel will pop-up – you need to click on the white square from the colours palette. Again, select the rectangle (which will now be white on the canvas!). In the menu at the top, click on ‘Arrange’ and select ‘Move to Back’ from the drop-down menu. Your circuit diagram will magically appear!
- Everything on this white rectangle needs to be converted to Write, rather than cut, so begin by clicking on that black square. Where it’s now showing highlighted in the right-hand margin, click on the Scissors icon and that Layers Attribute panel will pop up again. Select ‘Write’ (the pen icon – it’ll ask you to choose the pen – I use the Black 0.4 one that came with the machine). It’ll now appear on your canvas as a white square. Repeat the process (i.e. click on the Scissors, and choose ‘Write’ in the right-hand margin) for the two ‘L’ shapes that are attached to the square you’ve just converted, and the tiny circle that’s at the intersection between them both. Finally, in the same way, convert the circle (just the circle!!) on the very small white rectangle alongside it to ‘Write’ as well. Click on the line in the middle of the box (if you find it hard to click on, then click on the rectangle and look in the right-hand margin. Choose the line that’s been highlighted, and click on the Scissors icon alongside it. The Layers Attribute panel will pop up – select ‘Score’ (the stylus icon!) Now, click and drag over the whole of this small rectangle (and its contents!) and right-click. Choose ‘Attach’ from the drop-down menu.
- The next step doesn’t make any difference to the function of the card, but I’m putting it in as it makes the instructions even more easy to follow. Click on ‘Text’ (the T symbol) in the left-hand margin, and a text box will pop up. In the box, type ‘-‘ (a minus sign – or a hyphen, if you prefer!). It’ll probably be huge and in a mad font – it doesn’t really matter, but I reduce it to about 15 points and drag it to the TOP of the L-shapes you’ve just converted to ‘Write.’ (Be careful not to move any of the other elements around – if you do, you can always choose ‘Undo’ in the top menu bar. Often, it’s easier to choose things by identifying them in the right-hand margin and then clicking on that until the ‘crosshairs’ appear on the relevant part of the canvas). Click on the ‘-‘ you’ve just created, and where it’s highlighted in the right-hand margin, click on the Scissors icon and, when the Layers Attribute appears, choose ‘Write’ (the pen icon!)
- Again, click on ‘Text’ in the left-hand margin, and type ‘+’ (i.e. the plus or add sign). Resize if necessary, and drag it to the bottom L-shape on your white rectangle as shown. Click on the ‘+’ and – again! – where it’s highlighted in the right-hand margin, click on the Scissors icon and choose ‘Write’ (and whatever pen you chose earlier!). It’ll now look like this. You’ve done something really fab here – you’ve written yourself a DIAGRAM to make your own circuit! You really can’t go wrong!
- Now, click and drag over the whole of that rectangle, and right-click. The dropdown menu will appear (as shown below). Select ‘Attach’.
- Now…that might have not seemed like the most fun but…you’ve done an amazing thing – you’ve drawn a diagram for a circuit, and now it’ll be SO easy to make! Take a bow!
- We’re nearly there! Click on the main card piece (i.e. the big lilacy one with the reindeer on the front!) Click on ‘Ungroup’.
- Now…unless you’re making the card for someone called Abigail (which is a fine name), you’ll want to click on ‘Abigail’ and delete it. To replace the name, click on that ‘Text’ symbol again (left-hand margin!) and a box will pop up for you to type a name into. As a default, it’ll choose Cricut Sans font. Which probably wouldn’t be your first choice – but it is free! If you want to change the font, click on the text you’ve created and then click on the ‘Font’ choice in the top margin and options will pop p for you. You can choose any of the fonts that you have on your computer – or any of the Cricut fonts. You’ll see some of them have a price next to them that means that if you choose them you’ll have to pay that amount when you get to ‘Make It!’ You can get a lot of free fonts online, though I really do think it’s worth paying for them, especially if you’re producing a lot of items – although the font I’ve chosen here isn’t a Cricut font. I’ve used Qilla from Creative Fabrica because I love the fact it’s fun and semi-formal, it came with an unlimited commercial licence and, best of all, it’s easy to weed! Type your name out. If it’s a cursive writing-style font, then you will probably need to select ‘Weld’ so that your name or word cuts as a single piece. Once you’ve done this, your name is all ready to cut. Sometimes, though, fonts aren’t joined up automatically, so you might have to click on a particular word and ensure it’s joined. If ‘Weld’ hasn’t joined it together, then click on ‘Attach.’ That’ll make sure that everything is in the right place.
- Now, click on the line at the centre of the card (look in the right-hand margin to make sure the right line is selected!) Click on the Scissors icon and, when the Layers Attributes panel pops up, choose the Stylus icon. You’ll now see that that central line has changed to a dashed line on your canvas. Once this is done, click on the lilac rectangle and the score line you’ve just converted. Right-click and select ‘Attach’ from the dropdown menu. At this point…you’re probably ready to, you know…click on that ‘Make It!” button!
Cutting Out an LED Christmas Card on Cricut or Silhouette:
Whatever shows up next on the screen will tell you give you a better idea of whether you’re ready to proceed, but the first sheet will probably look something like this:
And that’s good! Follow the instructions on screen about pens, blades or scoring tools. I sort of prefer to cut the tiny hearts from white vinyl, to avoid applying PVA glue to tiny pieces and if you want to do that too, you need to lie to your machine (something I feel SO bad about doing, but needs must) by clicking on the hearts – the Layers Attribute panel will pop up and, where they are highlighted in the right-hand margin, just choose a different colour.
- Continue through the process, changing the materials where appropriate (as I said, I’ve made the eyes, muzzle and ear details out of vinyl because it’s easier to attach – and the red nose out of a few layers (my cut file automatically cuts out four, but you’ll probably find that three is enough) of glued-together tissue paper because it’s perfect to keep the LED in place AND diffuse its light at the same time!)
Assembling your Cricut Christmas Card:
- Here are all your component pieces! (Apart from the piece of metallic gold vinyl that says ‘Merry Christmas’ – if you’re wondering what happened to it, I later found it attached to my dressing gown! Luckily I was able to cut another one for the card!)Fold the main card piece in half.
- Attach the red circles to one another (the pattern gives four, but I’ve done three in the example shown). I just put a small amount of PVA glue on each piece and stacked them on top of one another. Let it dry.
- Apply PVA glue carefully to the back of the reindeer head piece and attach it to the main card piece, matching up the cut-out circle on each piece. Stick the red glued-together tissue paper circle to the back of the vinyl cream muzzle piece. You can see both pieces below:
- Turn the muzzle so the sticky side is face down and attach it to the main card. Take your time, and ensure that the circular red piece is exactly in the middle of the cut out circle on the card
- Attach the inner ear pieces to the card. Take the tiny white heart vinyl pieces and attach them to the black circles (I’ve put them to the top left on each). Attach these to the face of the reindeer, using the image below as a guide – for full ‘kawaii’ effect, they should be just below the halfway point of the head!
- Apply the sentiment (i.e. ‘Merry Christmas xxx’) to the card – masking tape is perfect for this sort of text on card – it covers enough of the letters to make sure the whole message keeps together, while enabling you to see the edges and line it up with the edge of the part. It also doesn’t stick to your card enough to tear it.
- It’s really starting to come together now! You’ve made the card ‘housing’ for your circuit…now you need to make the circuit!
- Take the tiny rectangle of card, and fold it in half along the fold line. Glue this piece of card to the square on the circuit diagram your Cricut drew (!) with the fold on the left-hand side.
- Apply your copper tape to the ‘L’-shapes on the piece of white card. In the diagram below you can see that we’ve started with the ‘positive’ path (see! We wrote it out especially!), moving downwards (bending the copper tape carefully at a 90-degree angle when at the corner) and then all the way to the right, over the folded piece of card you just glued to it. Don’t stop here though! Carry on over the edge and stop (and cut!) when you get to the middle point of the front part of the folded tiny card. (I hope that isn’t too confusing – here’s what it looks like with the flap of cardboard ‘opened’. Drop us a line if you’re struggling…we’re always happy to help! And we really want our instructions to be as clear as possible, so you’d be doing us a massive favour!)
- Then, we moved across the other side – the ‘negative’ path – again, carefully forming a 90-degree angle when we got to the corner. This time, though, there was no flap, so we just continued until the copper tape reached the middle of the circle on the card we glued on earlier. Cut the end off the tape. It’ll now look like this!
- Now take your LED bulb. It’ll look like this:All you need to know is that the longer ‘leg’ or prong (i.e. the upper one in our photo!) is the positive one! So – when we bend the leg, that needs to go along the positive path (and the other one against the negative one). And – you’ve seen the circuit, so you’ll know that for this card we need to bend the legs so that they form a right angle! When the legs are bent (and go slowly, our they’ll snap) it’ll look like this:But we don’t want that light to shine sideways, so – again very slowly and carefully – bend the light so that it’s facing towards you, rather than sideways.
Your LED is now ready to be applied to the card! All you need to do is ensure that the longer ‘leg’ is attached to the positive line of copper tape (as labelled on your card!) and the slightly shorter one goes down the negative line. Apply tape (Scotch tape or Sellotape) so that it’s attached to the card with the legs pointing down the lines of copper tape. It’ll look like this:
- is the and bend the legs at right angles.
- Now, you’re ready to test your circuit with a battery! Open the small ‘card’ in your circuit and insert the battery as shown (with the ‘plus’ side of the battery – look for the ‘+’ symbol!) at the top.
- Close the card and press it down – if everything’s in the right place it should illuminate as shown:You’ve got the circuit working – and that’s fab! But now we need to make it work inside the card!
- To transform this from a circuit to a card (rather than just a circuit…or an image with a light bolted on it!) we’ll need to apply foam adhesive tape along the outside. Our cut file is specifically design to provide enough space for you to arrange foam adhesive (up to a width of 18mm!) all around the edge of the card. Please note, though, that you have to apply at least two layers! And…it’s very sticky indeed! Don’t worry, though – we find it usually looks a bit messy inside, as ours does!
- Now, we need to ensure that the light isn’t switched on automatically whe the card is glued together – we want it set up so that you have to press the front of the card to complete the circuit and switch the light on. So…we need to apply slightly more foam tape – not around the edge of the card, but in a square around the switch (i.e. that little folded piece of card with the battery inside). We’ve already applied two layers around the card…to make sure that the card is elevated enough from the battery to not be switched on all the time, I’ve found that three layers works. So that’s an extra layer on the bottom and right hand side of the switch (as you can see it in this photo) and three layers on the top and left-hand side of the switch. And…it looks really, really messy (see below)…but only for now, I promise!
- Before you peel the top layer away from this adhesive card, press your card (i.e. the reindeer face…with the red tissue paper aligned with the bulb) against it and see if it lights up in the right place. Once you’ve positioned it correctly, gradually remove the backing from the adhesive pads and press the reindeer card against it.
- And…that’s it!
And don’t forget to let us know how you get on making this or our other projects in the CraftAGoGo Crucial Crafting Facebook (or if you have any requests for future files!) group!