Doing some shopping last week, I found a batch of LED tea candles for sale, 6 for $5.95. I’ve been meaning to pick some up to play with them for ages, as I’ve seen some neat stuff done with flickering LEDs on the tabletop!
The first thing I whipped up was a pair of large fire & smoke markers, big ones suitable for a building fire or big bonfire! The LED tea lights are about 1.5″ across, 5/8ths of an inch high at the base, and 1.5″ to the top of the “flame”, which on these ones is just a white bit roughly flame-shaped.
The bases contain the LED, battery and switch and unscrew easily from the upper part of the base, and the flame pops easily out of the upper part. I eventually want to get my soldering iron out and do various sorts of more advanced work with the flickering LEDs, but for now I just used the stock base and setup.
Using hot glue, I glued a doubled-over length of soft iron hobby wire around the rim of the base and up past the flame to support the smoke plume. The smoke plume is just cotton batting I salvaged from a pillow I was throwing away – waste not, etc!
I speared the cotton batting on the wire, then used more small beads of hot glue around the LED base to fasten the batting down. I added more hot glue on the wire, then pushed the batting up against the wire to secure it. As I pushed the batting against the wire, I gave the whole piece of batting a twist with my hand, to make the smoke plume more interesting.
The plumes got grey then black spraypaint, and might get a second coat of spraypaint – I’ll see what they look like after they dry. The LED lights still work (the switches are on the underside) and if I ever need to replace the battery, it’ll be easy to tug the batting aside and then fix things after with a bit of hot glue.
The whole project only took a couple of minutes, and should look good on the tabletop in the ruins of a building or as a bonfire. Here’s a short (11 second long) out-of-focus phone camera vid of the two smoke plumes and one original, unmodified tea light all flickering away.