How to Make an EL Wire Sign

Finished EL wire sign

One of the finishing touches I have been meaning to do in the Family room for ages, is to add a neon sign. When I started looking at them online however, I realised that they were incredibly expensive! So I came up with a way to make a simple neon sign with EL wire instead. EL wire is really cheap to buy, very pliable and looks really good. It just runs off a battery too, so there’s no fiddly wiring to do. So here’s my EL wire neon sign tutorial:

1. EL Wire Sign: Kit Needed

Here is a list of what I used:

  • A deep box canvas in the size that you want – I actually used 2 canvases and screwed them together as I couldn’t find one the size I was after.
  • You’ll also need some EL wire – this comes in a large variety of different colours.
  • A heavy duty staple gun that fires U shaped staples – I have this one.
  • Finally you’ll need a large needle (the type you sew wool with) and / or a pair of nail scissors.

2. Method:

Get your canvas, and if you want to paint it do it now. I chose to paint mine the same colour as the wall it was going on.

Next, work out roughly where you want your sign letters to go and lightly sketch them onto your canvas with a pencil. Bend the EL wire into shape as you go, to make sure that it will work.

Now take the large needle and pierce through the canvas at the start of where you want your first letter to go. Wiggle the needle around until the hole is big enough to pass the end of the EL wire through. You might need to use nail scissors to enlarge the hole slightly. I found that it was better to make the hole by pushing the needle from the front of the canvas to the back (it made a neater looking hole).

Pull the EL wire through the hole until all of the wire is through and on the front side of the canvas.

Begin to work the wire (starting from where you made your hole) into the first letter shape. once you’ve got it bent into shape, staple it to hold it in place. Be careful not to press the stapler too hard, as you could stretch and rip the canvas if you apply too much pressure. I actually did this in a couple of places on my sign – luckily the EL wire goes over the spots so it doesn’t notice!

I chose to do ‘joined up’ writing on my EL wire sign, so I kept all of the EL wire on the front of my canvas. If you wanted to have separate letters or more than one line of writing, you could simply make holes and pass the EL wire backwards and forwards through the canvas.

Once you’ve finished, tape the power pack attached to the EL wire onto the frame on the back of the canvas. And…voila! Your own custom EL wire sign.

Finished EL wire sign
EL wire sign on the wall

I’m so pleased with my EL wire DIY neon sign – and it was so easy!