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!

  1. Eek! Cutest thing of the day and it’s not even noon yet!

  2. France Geek says:

    Love this! Thanks for great instructions.

  3. Katie says:

    Darlin idea. Love it!!

  4. Irene says:

    nice art project for kids too

  5. this is so very lovely!
    i love the effects at night, so pretty with the light.

  6. Laura says:

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

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      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…


  7. Gina Lideros says:

    this is fab! This gives me an idea for so many projects!

  8. LindseyBee says:

    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:)

  9. Natalie says:

    Wow. This is such a creative idea! I’m totally inspired. :)

  10. zelina says:

    so creative Genious!

  11. Elissa says:

    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.

  12. Lauren says:

    Amazing! I absolutely love this idea!

  13. Nicole says:

    i think its awesome!

  14. eliz says:

    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 :)

  15. James says:

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

  16. Wendy says:

    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!

  17. CW says:

    I love this technique, thanks!

  18. shelley says:

    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.

  19. Erica says:

    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…

  20. Amy says:

    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!

  21. Amy says:

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

  22. Halligan says:

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

  23. Kelly says:

    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.

  24. Sarah Moses says:

    So perfect! What a wonderful night light idea. This is a spectacular craft! Thank you for sharing!

  25. oh I love that fireworks. Such an easy DIY that I think my daughter will soon enjoy

  26. TV girl says:

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


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