Crystals catch our eye and our imagination like no other substance on earth. These unique structures are sought out and prized in almost every culture. Spiritualists and scientists alike have a fascination with crystals -- the way they catch the light is unlike anything else on earth. They are rare and beautiful, and they resonate with us on so many levels.

These paper crafted crystals are a remarkable facsimile of the real thing. Their iridescence and faceted "occlusions" evoke a feeling of deep caverns, mystical seers and fortresses of solitude in my imagination. I just can't stop making them! They are oh so satisfying to fold, and oh so satisfying to hold.

Add a strand of twinkly NeoPixels, and we've got a perfect recipe for magic.

What Are They Made Of?

These crystals are made from iridescent cellophane wrap (from the craft store, like you find in fancy gift baskets) that has been crinkled up and then run through a laminating machine. They can be cut by hand with a utility knife, or cut out on a vinyl cutting machine like a Cricut or Silhouette.

Then they are folded into shape, tab-in-slot style, and finally we add a small piece of iridescent cellophane inside to mimic the crystalline occlusions. This is surprisingly convincing -- they look like the real thing, but are light and flexible -- perfect for cosplay applications or just stringing up around the house.

The crystal patterns in this guide are designed to slot perfectly around Adafruit's NeoPixel Dot strand. Each strand has 20 lights, and we've included crystal patterns in varying shapes and sizes, so you can customize the look of your strand. 

Or, you can order pre-cut crystal gems kits here.

Adafruit Parts Needed

shot of a Black woman's neon-green manicured hand holding up a Circuit Playground Bluefruit glowing rainbow LEDs.
Circuit Playground Bluefruit is our third board in the Circuit Playground series, another step towards a perfect introduction to electronics and programming. We've...
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The NeoPixel dots come in 2" or 4" spacing. For home decor I prefer the 4" strand, but the 2" strand might suit your purposes better if you're doing a costume or other art project. Each strand has 20 lights. The 4" strand is just over 9 feet long, so if you want to decorate a whole room you may want at least 2-3 strands. They come with connectors already attached, so daisy-chaining them is very simple.

Adafruit NeoPixel LED Dots Strand - 20 LEDs at 4 inch Pitch
Attaching NeoPixel strips to your costume can be a struggle as the flexible PCBs can crack when bent too much. So how to add little dots of color? Use these stranded NeoPixel dots!...
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Adafruit NeoPixel LED Dots Strand - 20 LEDs at 2 inch Pitch
Attaching NeoPixel strips to your costume can be a struggle as the flexible PCBs can crack when bent too much. So how to add little dots of color? Use these stranded NeoPixel dots!...
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You can simply solder the lights to the Circuit Playground if you've got soldering chops. Check out this Make It Glow - How To Solder NeoPixels guide if you want to pick up this very useful skill. 

However, for this project you don't need to be able to solder. This bolt-on kit will securely attach the LEDs to the board with no soldering required.

Close up angled shot of a LED strip attached and powered by a circuit playground.
You have a Circuit Playground Express, and want to connect some wires to it for adding LEDs or sensors or speakers? You can use our...
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If you're planning to plug these into a wall socket, you can do that with a USB cable and USB wall wart. If you want to take it on-the-go as part of a costume or mobile project, you'll need a battery pack. I like this one since it already has an on/off switch included.

Front angled shot of 3 x AAA battery holder with on-off switch and 2-pin JST PH connector.
This battery holder connects 3 AAA batteries together in series for powering all kinds of projects. We spec'd these out because the box is slim, and 3 AAA's add up to about...
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A nice set of wire strippers always save you frustration.

Red and black multi-size wire stripplers, closed
These are the finest wire strippers we have used, and if you have to do a lot of wiring, you will agree! They have soft rounded grips - very comfortable to use, and precision ground...
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Additional Materials & Tools

  • Iridescent cellophane wrap -- This is the stuff you use to make your gift bags look fancy. It comes in a roll like wrapping paper, in a variety of colors. I like "opal" but there are lots of colors to choose from. Check your local craft store or shop online. Just be sure you're getting iridescent! Plain transparent or colored cellophane will not give the same look.
  • Laminating machine  -- you can find them for around $25 on Amazon, and once you've got one, you'll laminate EVERYTHING.
  • 3 mil laminating pouches -- these come in packs of 50 or more, and I'd recommend getting at least that many. You can cut 1-2 crystals per pouch, depending on how big you make them, but get enough to account for errors. 
  • Vinyl Cutting Machine like a Cricut or Silhouette, OR a sharp utility knife and lots of elbow grease

This guide was first published on Jun 12, 2020. It was last updated on Apr 16, 2024.

This page (Overview) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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