How To Make Unique DIY Neon Signs (In 11 Easy Steps)
by Ann Mifsud
One of the great pieces of decoration that is a must at a glow in the dark party, is a neon sign… featuring the name of the birthday boy or girl.
You may want to use a neon sign as a center piece of your party decor. You may also want to use neon signs to make it easier for your guests to move around in a dimly lit environment.
The downside, however, of such great idea is the cost. To buy a custom-made neon sign of just six letters you might spend around $100 if not more.
As Luke our son was turning twelve, my husband and I decided that we were going to surprise our child big time. So we decided to celebrate this birthday by throwing a neon party for him and his friends. We had to put our hands on some of the most inviting party decor that we could think of… and we knew that we couldn’t leave out an awesome neon sign!
And we found a way to include neons signs without breaking the bank!
You can create as many neon signs as you need in a very inexpensive way. Some may call them fake neon signs but actually they can look very authentic. You can make these unique DIY neon signs by using cheap materials you can easily find at home or at the dollar store.
Here’s how we did it…
How do you make unique DIY neon signs?
Click on any of these steps for more details or go straight to instructional video at the end of this article.
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Black light is needed for these DIY neon signs to shine in the dark.
Setting Up Black Light For A Neon Party
Setting up black light for a neon party involves having enough ultra-violet light sources to cover all party area from different angles. As a general rule, 1 watt of UV light is adequate for a small area…
1. What do you need to make DIY neon signs?
The list is pretty straight forward…
For the DIY neon sign background you need:
- Thick cardboard
- Black paint or black spray paint
For the luminous tubes you need:
- Transparent flexible tube – ⅜ inch (1cm)
- Highlighter tempera paint– make sure it reflects UV light
- Thin flexible steel wire
To complete the process you need:
- A4 size sheets of paper (1 for every letter)
- 2 empty water bottles
- Hot glue gun
- Soldering iron or a Philips screwdriver
- Wire cutter
- Utility knife
- Smaller pipe (in diameter when compared to the flexible tube above) or a thick plastic drinking straw
- UV flood light (black light)
2. How do you prepare the background for DIY neon signs?
Cut a piece of thick cardboard the size of the neon sign you want to make.
Spray or paint with black paint so that the cardboard is completely covered. Leave it to dry.
3. How do you put together the letters that will form DIY neon signs?
Print out the letters you’ll be using each on a separate A4 size paper. You can print letters and numbers we have already prepared. Just download the pdf below.
We are also sharing with you custom made signs templates – find in the same pdf – that you can use around your black light party venue to make it easier and safe for you guests to go around the venue.
If you want to learn more about the 3 Key Tips for A Successful Neon Party At Home, click here.
4. How do you make a highlighter solution that will glow when exposed to blacklight?
Pierce a small hole in the middle of one of the water bottles caps. Use a hot soldering iron to do this with great ease. Alternatively, you can heat a medium size Philips screwdriver and make the hole with it.
Insert the small pipe into the whole and secure it with some hot glue. Leave to settle.
In the meantime, pour some highlighter tempera paint in the water bottle until the bottom of the bottle is covered with paint. Add 2 cups (120ml) of water to the paint and shake the bottle to mix the water with the paint.
Close the cap with the small pipe and set the highlighter solution aside.
5. How do you cut flexible transparent tubing to form letter for DIY neon signs?
Lay the flexible transparent tube on the printed letters. One by one, cut the pipe in lengths that correspond to the letters with an additional half an inch (1-2cm) on each side.
6. How do you fill the tubes with the highlighter solution and seal them off?
Seal off one end of all the tubes you’ll be using with hot glue. Leave to set for a few minutes.
When the hot glue is done on one end, fill the pipe with the highlighter solution from the other end. Close off the other end with hot glue as well.
Make sure that both ends are watertight.
7. How do you organize the printouts on the cardboard according to how you want the sign to turn out to be?
Lay the sheets of paper on the black background. When you’re happy with the way they look, prepare the filled up tubes each on the corresponding printout.
8. How do you attach the tubes to the cardboard background?
Cut 3 inch (8cm) lengths of flexible steel wire. Bend each one to form a “U” shape. Puncture two holes in the cardboard with the wire, exactly where they are needed to hold the pipes with the highlighter solution.
Secure the pieces of wire firmly to the background by bending again both ends of each piece at the back of the cardboard.
9. How do you remove the papers from underneath the tubes?
When all tubing is firmly attached to the background, tear out the papers to reveal the black cardboard background. Use a utility knife to remove any stubborn remaining bits.
10. How do you make small adjustments to the letters of DIY neon signs?
Make small adjustments to how the letters are attached, by applying some hot glue where you deem is needed. Hold the part of the tube where the hot glue is applied until it sets. Then move on to another part or another letter.
Be careful not to use too much hot glue. Excess of it will also reflect black light and your sign will not look as neat as you might wish.
Gently remove any threads of hot glue without damaging the black paint, using a utility knife.
11. How do you hang DIY neon signs and light them with blacklight?
Hang your DIY neon signs by tying some fishing line or black thread to both top corners of the cardboard.
Make sure that the area where the DIY neon signs are going to be hung is well lit with black light.
If you’re not sure how to set up black light (and other equipment) click here.
Winding up how to make unique DIY neon signs
What is usually considered to be a costly segment of your neon party decor, can now be done at home with common household items following 11 easy steps that we have illustrated above.
DIY neon signs can rally make glow in the dark party decorations from shabby to glamorous. You can use them a the center piece featuring, say, the name of the party boy or girl, or use them as luminous signs to make it easier and safer for your guest to navigate the place that is dimly lit.
Find all tools and materials used in this project here…
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Hi I'm Ann
Mom to three kids, I am the proud co-founder of Easy Kids' Parties. After a career in journalism and education, I diverted my skills to creating this website, with the aim of helping all those parents out there who wish to organize amazing and memorable parties for their kids but feel overwhelmed at the idea. Discover more...
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