Got a Dimmer Switch? Turn It into an Interactive Story

Give your free time creative purpose

Mesmerise your kids by turning their bedroom dimmer switch into an interactive story.

Here’s how it works:

With the lights fully-on, a cardboard dial displays a picturesque daytime scene with the sun high in the sky… but, as the lights are dimmed, the sun in the picture also begins to set (magic!). And once the lights are off, the picture reveals a resplendent night sky with moon and stars!

Go on, see for yourself…

'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights on: Sun in the sky
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights dimmed: Sun starting to set
'Day Night' Dimmer Switch Dial
Lights off: moon in the sky

What will I learn?

1) Moving objects can be hi-jacked in order to harness the movement in other more unexpected ways.

2) Storytelling, even something as simple as Day and Night, can make a project far mor compelling.

3) Even obscure objects, such as a rotary dimmer switch, can be used in very creative ways.

Step by step guide

If you’d like to make your own ‘dimmer dial’ subscribe below and get the free artwork. Then follow the instructions.

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Printable artwork

First, let’s take a look at the approach as a whole…

Exploded view
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 1

It’s simple, really… just a circular dial and a cover all made from cardboard.

Prepare materials
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 2

Cut two discs from corrugated cardboard, one 94mm and the other 98mm in diameter (1). In the centre of the smaller disc (Disc 2) cut out a hole, it must be small enough to fit tightly over the dimmer switch knob.

Take the other disc (Disc 1) and use a craft knife to cut out a large ‘pie shaped’ hole, use the measurements shown (2).

Cut two strips 320mm x 27mm from thick card (210gsm) and join them end on end using glue - this is the side strip (3).

Make the cover
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 3

Apply glue along the edge of Disc 1 and attach the side strip (4).

Print the Disc 1 artwork onto card, if you can’t print onto card print onto paper and mount the paper onto card (5). Trim around the artwork and glue it onto the front of Disc 1 (6).

Make the dial
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 4

Print out Disc 2 artwork onto paper or card (7). Cut it out (including the hole) and then glue or spray mount it onto Disc 2 (8).

Cut out two ‘tabs’ from the thick card, fold them in half and glue them to the top and bottom of the cover (9).

Assemble it
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 5

Turn the light on and push Disc 2 onto the dimmer knob, sun at the top (10). Place the cover on top, attaching it to the wall with tape or poster putty (11).

Operate it
'Day Night' dimmer switch dial: illustration 6

That’s it, just dim the lights (12) and watch the moon appear (13).

Materials

  • Rotary dimmer switch!
  • Thick and thin card
  • Paper glue
  • Craft knife and scissors
  • Pencil, ruler and eraser
  • Colouring pens or paints

Give it your own unique twist

Not everyone reading this will have a dimmer switch, so try picking something else to transform. Remember, the weirder it is the more imaginative you will have to be - so don’t just choose a cardboard box!

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author