Tao Tao’s Vanity Mirror with UV Backlight

The Final Countdown Costuuuume
Wooooo! We paraded! We got selfies with strangers! The press even snapped a few pics! I await my two seconds of NYC Halloween faaaame!

Introducing my Making Studio Halloween costume: Foremost a Hollywood-style vanity mirror, it could also be considered a variety of other things—a portal to another world, a look into our alter ego… whatever you wish it to be.

The main mirror element, with the bright, flashing lightbulbs, was meant to accomplish two things: be easily identifiable, as well as fun and flashy. The secondary element of UV lights and UV makeup I added for an additional twist. When deciding my UV lewk, I considered a glamorous make-up look with UV makeup (maybe drag-inspired), or something improvised, but ended up going with a Coco-inspired skull, which felt most in line with Halloween (and easier to manage, with my extremely limited makeup skills).

I used cloth straps to attempt to secure it to my body, but these turned out to be of limited utility (I ended up mostly propping the mirror up with my hands, which was totally fine, since the whole thing is very light). The main drawbacks to not having achieved more of a backpack-style suspension system were: (1) not being able to dance with my arms (2) not getting the height of the mirror quite right — in most photos, my head is at the very top of the frame, rather than more towards the middle. If I made this again, I would work on backpack-style straps early into the making process.

In terms of the process, I learned what I seem to learn time and time again: Things always take longer than I anticipate! I’m always debating between more advance-planning and more figuring-it-out-as-I-go (and by debate, I mean that I always go route #2 then later consider route #1). What I mean in this context is that, for example, I could have considered the backpack straps at the beginning of the construction and design process, rather than trying to work them in at the end. I could also have tested out a few lewks, giving myself options before landing on the one I chose. As for the vanity mirror itself, I’m very happy with how that element turned out! At the end of the day, Halloween is about having fun—and that was certainly accomplished.

I’ll definitely say—this costume project has opened my eyes to the world of possibilities opened up by incorporating light and electronics into a costume. I will *definitely* be incorporating lighting into future costume ideation! And also rollerblades…

Original costume idea sketch

Materials & Tools Used

Circuit Diagram

LED dots + gemma testing

Arduino code
For some reason, my LEDs weren’t executing the fade or pulse function, so I ended up just using theaterchase. Harsha helped me troubleshoot, so the code was on her computer, but I’ll work on recreating a closer version to share here!

That’s all for this Halloween!!!