diy project: illuminated firework art

For this project, I was inspired by Philadelphia. I live in a city so full of American history, and everyone loves to celebrate the Fourth of July here! Fireworks fill the city skies, and people go all out. This year, I wanted to decorate my home with an alternative to the normal red, white and blue color pallet and use some of the old photos I’ve collected from flea markets. These little works can be enjoyed as wall art or can make a great night light. You could also make fun Independence Day greeting cards using the same techniques! — Halligan

See the full how-to after the jump!

  • old photos with as much sky as possible
  • scanner and printer
  • paint
  • small brush
  • gold leaf and gold-leaf adhesive
  • deep frame
  • light-proof tape
  • short string of twinkle lights
  • glue stick
1. Scan your photo at the highest DPI possible if you are going to expand the image. Stretch to the size of your frame and print.

2. Glue your print onto a piece of thick, black card stock and cut to fit tightly into the frame.
3. Using your brush, paint and gold-leaf the fireworks. You don’t need to be a great painter for this! Make sure to practice before applying the paint to your image.
4. Use a needle to poke holes in the photo, following the outside lines of the arms of your fireworks.
5. Put the image into your frame, and place your lights in the back of the frame.
6. Tape along the edges to keep a tight fit.

7. Add the back of your frame. I used an IKEA frame with enough room for the cord; however, you may need to cut a hole to enable the cord to get out. Run your light-proof tape along all four sides of the frame’s back.

8. Enjoy your new artwork with the lights on or off! Happy Fourth of July!


Pretty! But maybe if you’re going to have this for more than a night, skip the lights in the back. Fire hazard!

Grace Bonney


is it really? we’re using the same types of bulbs you’d use on a lightbright toy, which has a paper front and doesn’t catch fire…



my gosh what a neat way to spice up a photograph! Using thread is one of the coolest things I’ve seen lately. I’m going to look through my photographs to try this out:)


LED lights might be okay inside the frame because they don’t get too hot, but I wouldn’t use regular incandescent Christmas lights, those will start a fire. I’d still put a few holes in the back to let out the heat.


my husband is an electrician and a wiring technician, christmas lights are perfectly safe unless left unattended on a live or metal tree….. just unplug them before bed. everyone on d*s needs to stop freaking out and commenting about fire hazards on every single post with a strand of lights :( lovely idea, I’m going to do this tonight :)


So, celebrating American independance day wit a photo of Sidmouth in England. Nice!


I love that you’ve managed to find a bit of British history in an American flea market. The seaside town pictured is Sidmouth in Devon, England. It’s such a pretty town and very little has changed since that photo was taken!


Design*Sponge please STOP inspiring me! Family, friends, work suffering. All furniture has been painted turquoise, yellow, red. I’m now stalking Goodwill. Craft Hoarders Show on phone asking for interview…and now pictures that light up?!? I am in Heaven.


Love this idea! Great for DIYers..I’m a huge fan of vintage photography and have some in my home. Can look classic or modern, depending on what wall it’s hanging on…


I am so intrigued by the lights. Its so awesome! I will be making fireworks on my photos, but am not sure if I will get the lights into them. If I make any I will post them to my blog and link back to you. Thanks so much!


After you fit the picture to your frame, what kind of paper did you print it on?


Amy, I just printed on a nice matte laser printer paper. :)


so sweet and clever. I see no reason why I can’t add these little bursts of firework happiness to my year-round photos. love it.

TV girl

I want to create a wall of lighted fireworks for my daughter’s room. Any advice on how to do this?