This year for halloween, I decided that I wanted to do something that I had never seen anybody else do. After mulling it over a bit, I hit upon an idea I loved: I would be a stick figure.
Now, those of you who know me will recognize that I am far from a natural stick figure. How could I bring this off? Inspired both by Blue Man Group’s Utne Wire Man and by Lady Ada’s Tron Bag, I decided to use electroluminescent wire to create the effect I wanted.
Now, EL wire is something of a hassle to solder, due to its dual-core nature. If there was a way to avoid that, I wanted to know about it! A bit of strategic googling brought me to Glowire, a vendor that not only has reasonable prices on the wire, but also sells preassembled kits that included the driver electronics, battery holder, and all of the necessary fittings. I found 6′ lengths, which I figured would be perfect to do the head and torso, arms, and legs, and promptly placed an order.
Once I got the wire in, I ransacked my closet to find a long-sleeve shirt and long pants that I could make a mess of. I then got a beefy needle and sewed the wire in place using fishing line, which would it in place without obstructing its light. (Thanks to Liam and Abby for their help with the sewing.) While my needlecraft was a bit shabby, and I managed to secure one of the wires to the side of a pants leg rather than the front, I finally got it all put together and excitedly turned on the switches and turned out the lights to see how it came out:
While it wasn’t perfect, I was very happy with the effect. I went out through the neighborhood with Liam and his friend Charles to keep them company while they worked the front doors, and was delighted with the enthusiastic responses I got, ranging from “Hey, cool costume!” to “Mom, it’s the glowing man!” Excellent.
So, if I had it to do all over again, I’d do the sewing on a mannequin or have somebody wear the clothes to ensure that we were sewing on the right part of the clothes. I’d also love to figure out some way to make the lines straighter. But even with the imperfections, I think the project was a terrific success. Excelsior!