DIY: Giant Lite Brite

I’ve had dreams, okay?

Dreams of building a GIANT LITE BRITE for our Middle School Ministry’s NEON NIGHT.

I looked online, and I didn’t see much:

  • This really hard DIY that I don’t have the energy for
  • This really cool one used at a middle school ministry event, that would take a lot of drilling and water bottles (and we’re a green church, so that’s a no-go)
  • This Lite Brite Table that seemed cool
  • And this Lite Brite used for a stage decoration, but not for interactive play

SO. I had to do this from scratch! And it wasn’t easy. Thus begins my journey:

Step One – procure Lite Brite pegs

I found Lite Brite pegs on eBay, no where else. Not on Amazon, not on Facebook Marketplace, not on Craiglist. I figured initially that I would need 1500, but after I purchased the pegboard, I realized I needed more like 2500. It cost about $80 for all of the pegs…not a cheap venture. I also had to wait for some of the pegs to arrive (but that was no big deal – I was working in advance!)

Step Two – procure pegboard

I went to Lowes, and decided to make two 4×4 Lite Brites. I tested the pegs in the board to make sure they would fit. I realized it could work with just one peg board, but might be best with two. I thought “let’s just get this in my car first.”

It wouldn’t fit in my car. So I karate-chopped it.

Then I knew I’d need two more pieces– and I just knew they’d fit in PJ’s vehicle, since he has a crossover. I waited a week, we went to Manards and found the same 4×4 pegboard.

And it didn’t fit. So I karate-chopped it.

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Step Three: Adhere pegboard with wood glue

I thought I could make it work: So I overlapped the pieces to make them strong. I used almost an entire bottle of Elmer’s Wood Glue.

But the pegs didn’t line up. I had two options:

  1. Drill each hole individually in order to get the holes to line up better
  2. Start over from scratch (yikes)

IMG_3734 (1).jpg

I called some buddies – a group of men at  our church that love doing construction projects. They took it off my hands, purchased four new pieces of pegboard, put them in their truck, told me next time to just call them, glued it together, and put studs in to keep the holes all lines up while it was drying. Bravo, men.

PS, I definitely called these men on International Women’s Day. I didn’t take it personally: The best thing a woman can do is ask for help when she’s overwhelmed. Did I mention I was fighting off a flu-like plague during all of this?

Step 4: Paint Black

It took me under two bottles of matte black spray paint to paint the peg board. I only painted one side, because… remember how I was initially ahead of the game? By this point it was the day before the event. I made sure to paint inside of the holes too to make the pegs vibrant.

Step 5: Light up

This was tricky, too: We were using the Lite Brite at our “Neon Night,” which was great, considering the pegs shined better with a blacklight. However, it still needed some bright light from the back in order to make the pegs shine bright. We were fortunate that our staff’s videographer came by, and he hooked us up with 3 lights that he uses for filming.

And…Voilá.

 

Thoughts for improvement:

I have a few ideas that might make it better:

  • glue a piece of black butcher paper or tissue paper between the two pegboards. This would allow it to be REALLY black in the spaces that are unused.
  • Block out the sides with blackout curtains or tablecloths. That way the light is super-contained behind the lite brite.
  • More blacklight! That would really make it special. We experimented with putting the light in front or in back.
  • Spray a clear paint over it, so that the black spray paint doesn’t transfer on our hands/clothes as we transported it. It’s too awkward to move without getting dirty.

PS – We spent about $130 total on this project. $10 per sheet of pegboard, around $15 per 500 pegs (2500 total). Affordable, but definitely an adventure! I will be thinking of ways to reuse it, for sure. 

All in all, this truly was an easy project; someone just had to be the first one to do it. You are welcome, world.

More about “Neon Night”

Neon Night consisted of many more components, including:

Last, we had a glow bar with:

 

Neon night is always a favorite of mine…but it is absolutely the most expensive evening of the year, and takes hours to put up. I was very fortunate to have some great volunteers, including DJ PJ, to help with all of it. Can’t wait for next year!

 

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