November 21, 2005

The Dark Mark

A few months back, Melissa and I were planning a Premier party for "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," and we needed some plans. This needed to be unique, not just a trivia contest and some PartyCity supplies. I started with a creative Harry Potter-Themed Invitation Then I got the inspiration from a cunning soul on MuggleNet, who made a Dark Mark (the snake-and-skull sign that the Death Eaters send up), out of Rope Lighting. Clever. But I thought I could improve on it. I would make it with EL (ElectroLuminescent) Wire. It's like pliable neon inside plastic tubing.

First, I laid out the design with some string, to see how much wire I'd need. (The wire needs to be one long length, wrapped around in a complex knot, unless you want to buy a dozen power modules for $10 a pop.) It started out at 60 Feet, but I got it down to 40 with some tweaking.

Improvement #2 was to have it mostly visible from both sides (since our roof faces the outside street as well as our court. So I bought some thick copper wire to make a frame out of, and I'd attach the Wire to the outside of it. (Many thanks to the HD guy for reminding me that I'd also need a GROUND wire, if I were to put a copper sculpture on the highest point of the house, lest it be struck by lightning.)

Next, I needed a wooden frame to hold the copper frame upright on the roof, so Mel's father and I put together a cross-piece that would attach to two adjustable legs that would hold the angle of the rooftop. Once painted black, we stapled the copper frame to it and I attached the EL Wire to the copper with plastic wire mounts and thin crafting wire. After that, I blacked out the parts I didn't want showing with black electrical tape and installed it on the roof.

A ground wire and a few scraped elbows later, we had our green glowing "Dark Mark". The party guests had NO DOUBT which house was having the HP Party. The neighbors on the other hand, were a bit concerned when they saw us putting up a black cross with a skull anda serpent on it. But here it is. Not bad for a guy who doesn't know much about tools, eh?


  1. Good job chris, your nerdyness has shown its true colors once agian.

    Hoorah for nerdyness!!!



    Thats awesome

  2. That is completely and unequivocally awesome! Great job!


  3. I am so far past impressed - and so sorry that we missed it...