Introduction: Fiber Optic Dandelion Light (With Natural Cabbage Dye!)

About: We make a bunch of random stuff, mostly crafts

In this Instructable, you will learn how to make a fiber-optic dandelion light. This artwork is especially beautiful in a dark setting.

This makes a good piece of wall art, and can easily be modified to make a desk decoration, outside light, or something else.



  • Fiber optic cable -diameter 0.03in(0.75mm) 328ft(100M)/roll plastic end glow fiber optic cable
  • Silicone tubing -1/8” ID x 5/32” PD
  • Canvas 18”x24”
  • Green plastic tubing with diameter ½” (we cut stems of old silk flowers)
  • Purple cabbage, vinegar, and baking soda.
  • Bubble tea straw.
  • Remote LED lights as shown. Small LED lights (from Daiso, a popular Japanese dollar store in our neighborhood mall)
  • Baking clay, airdry clay.
  • 26gauge metal wire
  • Fishing line
  • Green & Brown Masking tape & Duct tape


  • Strainer
  • Chopping board, knife, pot
  • three small glass jars and one large glass jar
  • acrylic or watercolor brush
  • scissors, metal cutters
  • Sewing needle

Step 1: Supplies

Step 2: Background-Canvas: Prepare Cabbage Dye 1 - Wash & Chop

Wash and chop the cabbage into small pieces.

Step 3: Background-Canvas: Prepare Cabbage Dye 2- Boil & Filter

Boil in the pot for 15 minutes. Filter out the pieces of solid cabbage and put the remaining colored liquid in a large glass or jar.

Step 4: Background-Canvas: Prepare Cabbage Dye 3-Different Colors

Make natural color paints-a spectrum of red, purple, and blue (it turns green after drying).

Pour cabbage liquid into three small glass jars. Leave the first jar unchanged, add vinegar into the second jar and add baking soda to the third jar. Add slowly and observe the color change to the desired color.

Step 5: Background-Canvas: Paint

Color canvas with the dye using a paintbrush. It is watery initially and we set it aside to let dry. We accidentally moved the canvas in the process, so the red color got neutralized. Still, we got a nice blend of green and blue to symbolize grassland and sky.

Step 6: Plan & Design

Use green masking tape to mark the locations of dandelions, including the stem and LED light.

This helps us to decide the size of each individual part.

The lighting unit for the dandelion’s seed head has 10 LED bulbs, 4 inside and 6 outside. We want each LED light bulb to support between 3-5 individual dandelion seeds (“parachutes”). Also, the seeds for the four inside LED lights should be of shorter length than the ones for the outside LED lights. The length of the outside seed is determined by the design as shown. We leave some extra length to mount it onto the base lighting unit later.

Step 7: Dandelion Base & Mounting Support: Mark LED Positions

We want to have a good support for each dandelion seed and a good insulation of light (so the only light coming through is from the seeds rather than leaking out from the LED).

We tried several materials, such as regular Styrofoam, dry flower foam, iron mesh, etc. and finally settled with clay.

Turn on the LED lights, tracing the position of light bulbs on a piece of paper with a marker. Cut holes on the marked holes. This paper is now our "LED template".

Step 8: Dandelion Base & Mounting Support: LED Base

Cover the surface of the LED light with flattened rounded clay.

Step 9: Dandelion Base & Mounting Support: Holes for Light

Use bubble tea straw to cut through clay along ""LED template" paper and see light coming through nicely.

Bake as needed for baking clay and leave to shape for airdry clay.

Step 10: Dandelion Base & Mounting Support: Mount the LED

Trace the position of LED light on the canvas.

Cut as shown. Turn off the battery cap at the back of LED light.

Twist the battery cap back on with some of the “teeth” folded in and taped as needed to secure the position.

Step 11: Individual Dandelions, Pt. 1

Make individual flying dandelion seeds with silicone pipe and fiber optics cable.

Cut and thread around 10 fiber optic segments into the tube. The segments should be around 150% the length of the tube.

Step 12: Individual Dandelion, Pt. 2

Align the fibers on one end so one end of the fibers is exactly at the opening of the silicone pipe. This side will be connected to the LED lights.

Step 13: Individual Dandelion 3

Bend and arrange the fiber optics outside the other end of the silicone pipe to look like a dandelion seed.

Repeat. Make 3-5 for each LED bulb. We have 10 LED bulbs so we made around 40 individual dandelions.

Step 14: Individual Dandelion 4: Set Up the Dandelions

Set the dandelion seeds into the LED to make sure they fit. Adjust the length if needed.

Groups by lengths. For the 4 inside LED bulbs, we will use shorter ones, and for 6 on the outside, we will use the longer ones.

Step 15: Supporting Wires: Cutting Wires

Cut one piece of the 26 Gauge metal wire for each dandelion (except for the 3 or so that are separate dandelion seeds that are flying off the base), each of the same length that of the silicone pipe. Because our wire is relatively soft, we chose to cut a wire of twice the length and fold it in half.

Step 16: Supporting Wires: Insert Wires

Insert the metal wires into the dandelion seeds. Now you can bend the silicone pipe to the desired shape.

Step 17: Supporting Wires: Flying Away Dandelion Seeds

Cut longer wires and insert them to shape the flying-away dandelion seeds.

Step 18: Install Dandelion Seeds: Set Up

Arrange and insert fiber optic seeds into the clay base. The ones on the outside should be longer than the ones in the middle.

Step 19: Install Dandelion Seeds: Prep the Base

After installing the fiber optics, tape around the base LED light with the height of the tape slightly higher than the clay.

Step 20: Install Dandelion Seeds: Glue in Dandelion Seeds

Pour glue in to fix the position of fiber optic seeds.

Step 21: Secure Dandelion Seeds With Fishing Line

Use the fishing line to attack each seed to the canvas if needed.

Thread fishing line through needle.

Fix the position of each seed as needed by sewing them
properly onto the canvas. The position of most seeds should be easily positioned with wire inside. However, the outside/longest fiber optic seeds needed to be sewed closer to canvas.

Note that since we planned for some seeds to fly off, we left the seeds at the top right corner of the seed head sparsely distributed than the rest.

Step 22: Cover Seed Head With Clay

Mix clay of color brown, light green grass green and dark green, then use it to cover the base after positioning & testing.

Step 23: Flying Seeds: Drill Holes for Separate Seeds

Drill holes in the canvas where you plan to have flying seeds. Push the dandelion seeds through the holes.

Step 24: Flying Seeds: Secure Seeds

Secure with brown tape (to simulate a seed) and duct tape as needed on both sides..

Step 25: Flying Seeds: LED Lights

Use the extra wire, clay, duct tape, and fishing line, to support LED lights that shine at the dandelion seeds.

Step 26: Finished!

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