Jeri Ellsworth and EL Wire – The Currency of Burning Man

One of my favorite nerds, Jeri Ellsworth, posted a video on making her own EL wire.  Okay, now how cool is that?!  It’s a simple process really, and EL wire is a pretty simple concept.  Check out Jeri talking about it below.  Oh, also – check out some of Jeri’s other videos on YouTube.  She is one brilliant soul!

Thanks, Make!

Kiwi and Pom’s Disco Chair

Our good pal and Duluth Crew member Alex Rugowski pointed this out to me a week or so ago – what a cool use of EL wire!

Meet the Disco Chair:

From the designers’ website – Kiwi and Pom, out of London:

Commissioned by Wallpaper* Magazine, the Disco Chair is a bespoke illuminated furniture concept. Constructed from 200 linear metres of Electroluminescent wire, the chair transforms into a neon rainbow when powered. A pulse setting enables the chair to flash on and off creating an instant disco installation.

This thing is just way cool.

Way, way groovy, mang.

Electroluminescent Wire – EL Wire to the Seasoned Squint

Have you ever heard of electroluminescent wire – or EL wire, as it’s affectionately called?

EL wire is layered around a core copper wire, and each layer performs a different task.  From center, EL wire contains a copper wire as the core, which is coated with a phospor material.  Copper and phosphor are the first two layers.  Add two very thin wires wrapped around the phosphor-coated copper core, acting like an igniter of sorts – then cover that whole thing with a plastic layer.  The first plastic layer might also be tinted or corrected to show a color – as you would assume things that emit light might have – like a color filter.  The whole assembly is also covered with a second layer of plastic, as a protector.  So, from the center, we have a copper core, a phosphor layer, a layer of two wire leads, a plastic layer, and a second plastic layer for protection.

What is cool about this electroluminescent wire is the electroluminescent part.  Current is applied to both the copper core and the two wires wrapped around the phosphor coating of the copper core.  As the electromagnetic field is created on the phosphor from the two separated conductors sandwiching it, the coating fluoresces.  So we have wire that glows using the basic principles of electricity and phosphorescence.  Awesome.

People are finding some interesting uses for EL wire all over the place – I mean, the use of it is really limited to your imagination (and some voltage), and it’s getting added to some cool projects.  I found a few at Hack-N-Mod, and they had a few videos listed.  The one below is of a clothing on a DJ:

Can you see the costume design possibilities of this wire?  Even with LEDs and battery packs, you can still only have so many LEDs sewn into a costume piece.  Suddenly Joseph’s crazy ridiculous and Amaing Technicolor Dreamcoat just got even more insane.

There are videos all over the place on projects using EL wire.  Here’s one from Burning Man (as you can imagine – being that where else could you imagine being a better place for wire that glows?):

Here’s one using EL wire in a light art installation:

Have you spec’ed or designed any projects lately using EL wire somewhere?  Post in the comments, I’d love to know more!