Darkie – Monica’s Plush Night Light

Were you ever scared of the dark?

Chances are that you were. Fear of the dark is specially common in children ages 3-6 when “children are old enough to use their imagination but have not fully developed the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality” 1.

Source: Fear of Darkness Infographic
What if children could see the dark in a new light?

Enter Darkie, a night light plushy in the shape of a cute little monster. When on, Darkie reveals its lit big red heart, aimed at increasing feelings of comfort and trust with children. Darkie will be especially helpful in the early-childhood years when children are transitioning into sleeping independently from their parents.

Darkie loves to be hugged

Darkie can in used in bed with the user, or sit on the night stand and be ready to be grabbed when the child needs to run to the bathroom or a fluffy companion to go to the parents’ room.

While Darkie doesn’t claim to solve or prevent fear of darkness in children, it does aim to act as an approachable, positive and tangible representation of darkness and thus might ease feelings of fear in children.

Process

Diffusion experimentation with single LED
4-LED circuit for Darkie
Soldering and placing the shrink-tube in place
Soldered circuit working!
Cut loofah in the shape of a heart with inserted circuit
Machine-sewn plush body
Filling Darkie up

Specifications

Toy: Velvet upholstery fabric, mesh, stuffing, goggly eyes, sponge. Electronics: 4 soldered red LEDs with AAA battery pack

My Journey

I began wanting to make a toy in the shape of a person, but early prototyping wasn’t very successful. I decided to keep the idea of the lit heart. After a hard but ultimately successful time soldering the LED circuit, I discovered that I could get great light diffusion and make a heart shape by sticking the LEDs into a loofah. Then the question was how to get the heart into a plushy… I didn’t know what I was going to make.

It was only at the fabric store that I realized what my plush toy would actually be: a little darkness monster with a heart! This seemed like a much better and clear idea than my original.

Takeaways from this project
  • It was hard to get the LED to work, but when they do, it’s really fun!
  • Making, cutting and sew the pattern is not a quick gig. (I thought I would be able to do it in 40 mins but actually took me 2+ hours, at full productivity mode.
  • I realized I should have sewn the ears onto the main body before closing up the main body. That would have made the seam between parts way better.
  • Conveying the darkness int he final photos was hard, and I’m not sure if the choice of background was good.