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DIY Pixelwhip: Straightening Your Fibers
This DIY tutorial will teach you how to straighten your fibers safely*, with tips on how to get a custom look.
By reading this blog post, you’ll learn the following:
-How to reshape a FiberHead with bent fibers
-How to safely heat your fibers and straighten them
-Why your fibers might get bent out of shape if you expose them to heat
*(Want to curl your fibers, instead? See the tutorial here).
PRO TIP: Is this your first time reshaping your fibers? Try using an old FiberHead to experiment with! If you only have one FiberHead or need an extra one, buy one of our replacement heads HERE.
What you’ll need:
- A pot big enough to hold your loosely coiled FiberHead (not too small, or it will be hard to get the fibers submerged). When choosing a pot, check to make sure that your FiberHead will fit easily into it BEFORE you add hot water.
- A second pot or water kettle to boil water in. This needs to be different than the first pot that will hold your fibers - you do NOT want to let your FiberHead touch the hot surface of a recently heated pot!
- A long wooden or plastic cooking utensil that can is larger than the opening of the pot. You’ll be placing it on the rim of the pot so you can attach your FiberHead to it.
- Gloves that can protect you from steam and potential splashes. Rubber gloves will not help you hold a heated pot, but they will work fine for small drops of hot water.
One or two zip ties.
First, start boiling your water (using the pot/kettle that will NOT be holding the FiberHead) while you prep your fibers for heating. Make sure you boil enough water to cover the fibers**. While you follow these steps, be careful to NOT to submerge the metal base of the FiberHead!).
**If you only want to reshape a certain section of your fibers, only submerge/heat that part! For example, you might want to reshape just the ends of your fibers. If you are experimenting with different ways to suspend the FiberHead so that certain parts stay out of the water, make sure the fibers do not touch the hot metal of the pot. Try placing a cloth between the pot and fibers to protect your FiberHead from any possible overheating.
Prepping your FiberHead:
Before you start, detangle your FiberHead, starting from the tips of the fibers and working your way up to the base of the bundle. You might want to apply a small, dime-sized amount of lubricant with a microfiber cloth to help you with the detangling process. We recommend silicone-based personal lubricant, like Swiss Navy - don't use a water-based lube, which will just gum up your fibers and make them stick more!
Make sure your fiberhead doesn’t have any kinks or knots in the fibers - you wouldn’t want to preserve a pre-existing tangle in your whip (unless that’s the look you want for a costume or lighting design, of course)!
Then, swirl the fibers together so they form a single bunch with no stragglers. You can do this by holding the handle in one hand. Then, form a loose “O” with your other around the fiber bundle. Moving the whip handle in a circular motion, swirl the whip as you move the “O” hand from the base of the FiberHead, down the length of the fibers. Do this several times.
- Gently weave in any straggler fibers (avoid creating kinks in the fibers by not using too tight of a weave, and don’t make any knots). The general pattern of weaving is a long zigzag through the main bundle of the FiberHead. Pull the fibers straight after you weave them through the bundle.
- We recommend detaching your FiberHead from the pixelwhip flashlight/base lighting unit before you apply any heat to it. Place the flashlight in a safe place so it won’t get wet or fall in the water.
To get straighter fibers, follow these steps:
Zip-tie the FiberHead to the spoon and make sure your setup can securely hold the FiberHead in place. Coil the fibers into the first pot, suspending the base of the FiberHead near the pot opening.
If you haven’t boiled water yet, use the second pot to heat the water. Let it sit 45-60 seconds after it stops boiling / after you stop seeing bubbles from boiling the water to make sure that it isn’t too hot.
Slowly pour the water into the pot containing the FiberHead, making sure not to bump or displace the spoon holding the FiberHead by accident.
Leave the fibers in the hot water for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the FiberHead from the spoon and zip tie it to a coat hanger while the fibers are still warm. Place the coat hanger high enough so the fibers hang straight and don’t touch the floor. Some people hang their FiberHead on a coat stand or even secure the coat hanger on top of a tall cabinet or shelf.
Leave the FiberHead to hang for a few hours or even overnight, allowing the fibers to cool into a straighter shape.
Did you know?
💫 Know-how from the experts:
You might notice if you leave your FiberHead in a hot room, or in your car on a hot day, it will retain whatever shape it was in as it cooled. This happens because LED whip fibers are made out of a material called PMMA, which is a thermoplastic. This means that it becomes softer as it is heated, and it hardens as it cools (you’ll notice that fibers will become brittle and shatter more easily in the cold!). To fix any unwanted bends or kinks in your fibers if you've left them in the heat by accident, just follow the steps above!
💫 *Pro DIY tips*
For unusual shapes, we have found that a damp towel that has been steamed or warmed can be placed over the fibers, weighing them down to retain whatever shape you have placed them in!
✨If you've followed the tutorial above and want to post your results, use #diyfiberform to show off your skills on social media! ✨