How to Make a DIY Neon Sign


How to Make a DIY Neon Sign With EL Wire

The APW staff lost their heads over neon signs in the last year. We saw them everywhere and thought they were amazing. So we all decided that we needed our own neon signs. Because who doesn't want one in their office? 

You heard it here: neon is the new gold. I was intrigued to see neon signs at conferences and in workplaces, but I didn't know that they were expensive. It's so expensive that you can't even find them on Craigslist. Because I know because I tried. So earlier this year I set out to find a way to... make a neon sign. A degree in electrical engineering is preferred.

 A few weeks back, I discovered a magic little tool called EL Wire. EL wire is a fabric-sewn tool that's used at events like Burning Man and Tron cosplay. EL wire, a thin, flexible wire that glows just like a neon sign but costs less than the real thing (e.g., it's only $150 for the large sign). Tabitha, a Winston & Main wedding designer from Los Angeles, suggested that she take the EL wire and make it into something suitable for an APW wedding. The result was way better than I could have imagined.

 It's completely self-contained so it doesn't need to be connected to the wall. It also has a bonus of being able to be hung above a dessert table. Although it is amazing, it does require some planning and a power drill. You will need to give yourself plenty of time to do it correctly. This project doesn't require any special skills.

 You just need some foresight, patience, and a little bit of luck.

You can keep it in your living space for ever. As if that wasn’t your ultimate goal.



  1. Print your quote
  2. Chalkboard Marker/Dry Eraser Marker
  3. Loctite Super glue Ultra Gel Control
  4. Painters Tape
  5. Gaff Tape

Drill with a quarter inch drill bit. DIRECTIONS TO MAKE THE "LOVE" SIGN


1. To fit the acrylic, print your word. Tabitha prefers, which is free! You can also use Adobe Acrobat's poster printing option to magnify things at home.


2. Find out the locations where you will need holes to form your words. The obvious ones are at the end and beginning of each word. Play with your EL wire or a piece string to find out where to drill holes. Bend the wire over your word to see where it accumulates too much. You can also determine where you should cut the wire to make it bend to the shape you want. 

The "obvious" holes in the "Love" Sign are at the end of the EL wire (or a piece of string), and the beginning of each letter. It is not attached to any other letters. Tabitha drilled a second hole to connect the "o", "v" and "e" because it was easier to read than if there were three pieces of EL wire between them. You will mark the locations you'll drill using an "x".


3. Use a chalkboard or dry erase marker to trace your quote or word onto the acrylic. Before you start writing, make sure the acrylic is clear.


4. For your EL wire, drill a hole large enough to pass through the area marked with an "x". Tabitha used a quarter inch drill bit to make her 5mm EL Wire.


5. 5. To keep it in place, you can attach it using a bit of gafftap.