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Ways to Light a Miniature Halloween Display


Halloween is the second most popular celebration in North America in terms of consumer spending. It's a popular time to display miniatures and dolls' houses as well, with special displays for trick or treat visitors adding to the spookiness indoors.

Some special techniques for lighting and display come into their own for miniature Halloween displays. Fog, black lights, strobe light and sound effects can all be features of miniature Halloween scenes.

1. Miniature Black Lights

Photo of miniature porch scene lit with a skeleton lit by miniature black lights.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.
Miniature black lights add some wonderful effects to miniature Halloween scenes and dolls house displays, with or without fluorescent paint. Combined with bright white paper they create a true black light effect for Halloween or circus/fun fare/disco displays. The lights are powered by L.E.D.s which makes them fairly powerful at short ranges. It is easy to create glowing effects using these lights and fluorescent highlighting markers or paints. The only downside is that lights in this range are emitting UVA rays.

2. Glow in the Dark Paints

Glow in the dark paint on cling film creates a wedding gown for a glowing skeleton bride.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Glow in the dark paints on regular light and emit a greenish glow when the lights are off. These paints are not highly visible in lit areas, so miniatures must be displayed in a dark area, or the lights turned off before the effects are very noticeable. Many brands of glow in the dark paints are available. The acrylic versions can be painted into a mold in layers in a mold to create glowing faces, masks and many other miniatures. Glow in the Dark paints will also fluoresce under black lights. Thin layers of glow in the dark acrylic paint applied to cling film (plastic wrap) can be used to create sheer glowing materials for curtains or ghosts and costumes.

3. Fluorescent Markers

A pumpkin design glows with colorful highlights when felt marker designs are lit by black lights
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.
Fluorescent highlighting markers and gel pens often have colors that glow brilliantly under black lights. They can be used to draw attention to small details, eyes on ghosts, cats or bats. They can be used as ink for stamps to create detailed designs or lettering or headstones made from grey craft foam sheets. Stamps will also work on fabric. A small bat, owl or pumpkin stamp can create a glowing fabric for a Halloween ghost.

4. Miniature Fire Effects from LEDs

A miniature fire appears real in the dark.
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.
Flickering lights can add to the atmosphere of a scene. Some colors can be used to mimic fires and glowing embers, others in the blue light range give unusual lighting effects that draw attention to ghostly appearances.

5. Glow in the Dark Polymer Clay

Glow in the dark polymer clay ghost
Photo ©2007 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.
Glow in the Dark Polymer Clays are useful for small pieces for Halloween displays where the lights will only be off for a short time. The glowing effect is very short lived once the lights are off. Objects made from the clay will glow well under blacklights, and can be used to create eerie greenish glowing objects. The clays are very soft and require cool conditions to work well until they are cured.

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