I then took a can of white spray primer and primed the board 2-3 times to give a purposefully uneven white undercoat. I wanted some areas to have a better coverage, leave a few spots which should show through a little through the snow. After the primer dried, I peeled off the tape in all the areas and again tested the lights to make sure they were working. Then, again using gorilla glue, I attached all the opaque crystals over the LEDS and glued down the trees into their places. I used some white touch up paint to cover any places that had not been sprayed.
The next step was to mix up a metric ton of the snow that I use. To do so, I mix in a full box of baking soda, a full normal sized container of Elmer’s glue and about a t-spoon of ultra white paint. This is mixed until it has a consistency akin to that of toothpaste. Using a thick piece of plasticard I smoothed this mixture across the board, not being careful to get a perfectly smooth coat. I wanted to leave a little texture for the snow to show through. The snow is tough to apply, and I had to switch from plasticard, to fingers, to butter knife many times to get the stuff all applied. I also blended the steps in the backer board in a bit with the mixture to give the board a gradual rise, rather than obvious steps. Over this I sprinkled baking soda from the box which gives it a more fallen snow look. This is the most important step to make it all look like snow.
I let this dry and then repeated the process mixing up a second batch of snow goop, this time adding more to cover the battery pack which sits in the corner of the board, and around the trees and crystals so that they would blend in better with snow. I also filled in any gaps that I had left in my initial application, and repeated the process of applying powdered baking soda to the top. Then I let it dry and came back and blew off the extra powder that had been poured over the top of the wet snow goop.
I did experience a few problems after the snow had dried. The ultra white paint usually ensures the snow doesn’t yellow over time, but some chemicals leached out of the backer board in a few places (primarily where the steps in the board occur) and had caused a couple of yellow spots. I already knew I wanted to spray over the snow to help hold things down, so I grabbed my white primer and applied a light spray over the snow, more in some spots than others. This covered the 5 yellow spots and also broke up the stark white look. Finally, I took matt sealer and sprayed the whole thing down to keep the powder and snow from breaking free.
Once it all dried, I placed the board and wiring back in the frame and then I turned that puppy on! All the lights lit so I was pleased that all my crude attempts at soldering had held. I left the LEDs burning in my garage to test to see if I could leave them on for a full tournament. I let them run for 48 hours, decided that was enough, and then turned them off. Overall I am pretty pleased with the result. In brighter lights the crystals are dim, but in a room with fluorescent lighting you can clearly tell the crystals are glowing. The after coat of primer followed by the matt sealer keeps things from flaking and blowing off and seems to be holding everything in place nicely.
I think my 3 year old thought it turned out pretty neat and she was pretty mesmerized by the glowing crystals. She gave it a solid thumbs up from the best I could tell. She helped me a bit with the snow application but couldn’t be around when I was soldering and cutting for obvious safety reasons! A few words of caution – if you attempt a wiring project like this be careful! The soldering iron can certainly burn your house down, and the fumes from the solder contain things that are not meant to be inhaled!