Creating an Animated LED Jar Lamp


My goal was to prototype an interesting lamp that would animate a room with its changing lighting. I wanted to create a final piece that can be moved around on its own. The jar uses a 9-volt battery in the lid so that it can be easily unplugged and changed.

The aesthetic creates a sense of sentimentality and the piece is packaged as something you can interact with and give to a friend. In complete darkness, viewers can also interact with the double-shadow effect created by the two LEDs.

I explored the appearance of a cross-fading and mixing effect between red and blue light. In each RGB LED, the light transitions from red to blue, creating purple and magenta shades in-between. It’s interesting to view the effect through a variety of materials, such as the glass of the jar, the red and blue lighting gels, the polyester bow, and the origami crane. Each component provides a variety of light interaction.

Final Video of the Prototype

Material Explorations

I tested the effect created by shining red and blue LEDs through various materials:

Translucent polyester fabric
Glass jar
Lighting gel
Linen fabric

Circuit Diagram

Process Images

Circuit prototype using mini breadboard, diffuse RGB LEDs and resistors.
Making the circuit more permanent by adding shorter wires and snipping off the resistor leads.
Testing the jar fit and black fabric cover.
Testing the circuit with the battery underneath it, and preparing the lighting gels to shape.
Testing with the battery on the lid, and creating the origami crane.
Attaching the origami crane to the lid with tape. Cutting the fabric and tying it in a bow over the

Arduino Code for LED Sequence

  Adafruit Arduino - Lesson 3. RGB LED:
  Arduino Fading LED Tutorial:

int redPin = 11;
int greenPin = 10;
int bluePin = 9;

int redBrightness = 255;  //initial red brightness of led #1
int blueBrightness = 0; //initial blue brightness of led #2
//int greenBrightness = 0;

int redFadeAmount = 3;
int blueFadeAmount = -3;
//int greenFadeAmount = 3;

void setup() {
  //configure 3 PWM arduino pins as outputs for the LEDs connected in parallel
  pinMode(redPin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(greenPin, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(bluePin, OUTPUT);

void loop() {
    // set the brightness of red pin:
    analogWrite(redPin, redBrightness);
    analogWrite(bluePin, blueBrightness);
    // change the brightness for next time through the loop:
    redBrightness = redBrightness - redFadeAmount;
    blueBrightness = blueBrightness - blueFadeAmount;
    // reverse the direction of the fading at the ends of the fade:
    //since they are matched up, we only need to check red
    if (redBrightness <= 0 || redBrightness >= 255) {
     redFadeAmount = -redFadeAmount;
     blueFadeAmount = -blueFadeAmount;
     delay(3000);  //pause when reaching 100% blue or 100% red
  // wait for 30 milliseconds to see the dimming effect