Tips for Christmas Card Paper Circuit Program

Hey, guys! I’m new to the idea of paper circuits. I attended the recent Animated Cards with Paper Circuits workshop and had a ton of fun with it, even though that was my very first paper circuit. My programmer saw what I made and asked about it, and when I told her about all the different ideas that came up, she loved the idea of lighting up Christmas cards. So that’s what we’re doing next week!

Since y’all have more experience with paper circuits than I do, I figured I’d come here and ask a few questions.

  1. Do you prefer aluminum foil or copper tape? We’ve found that aluminum foil is easier to shape and mold but doesn’t seem to have as good of a connection. On the other hand, I had some trouble with the copper tape and getting it into the shape I wanted it, since I was told to fold and not cut, which was a little trickier. Do you have a preference between the two for your programs?

  2. Are there any handouts or informational sheets you find useful to provide to participants? I’ve got the new and improved PLIX circuit zine, which looks amazing and I think will go over really well. But I figured it didn’t hurt to ask if anyone had found any other documents they found particularly useful!

  3. Is there any advice you’d give newbie paper circuit-makers that might be handy to know going into the program? This program will be run by two beginners (myself and my programmer, who has never done a paper circuit before but will before the program next week), so any advice is much appreciated so we can (hopefully) help troubleshoot anything that comes up.

Thanks in advance for your help! You all have such fabulous ideas, so I wanted to make sure to ask here before we hosted our first paper circuit program.


Hi! I just did a paper circuit workshop a few days ago and we had a great time! I’m sure you will do a great job facilitating :grin:

To answer your questions:

  1. We used copper tape and the patrons seemed to have a pretty easy time using it. Peeling it from the backing was a challenge for some of them, but I reminded them that it was okay for things to be imperfect. We also cut strips in different sizes to help fill in gaps in their designs.

  2. We used the PLIX Zine handout along with a simple circuit diagram

  3. Advice-be flexible, have fun and encourage creative approaches! Everyone in our group had a different idea of how circuits work, as well as how to make one! We tried everything!

Best wishes!


Hi Sammie!

  1. I prefer copper tape, mostly because it’s a fun challenge for people to use. I feel like people appreciate copper tape more?

  2. I’ve provided the Exploratorium paper circuit guide with kits in the past. I think it helps contextualize some of the different equipment pieces:

  3. I’d also be prepared for circuits to work…and then not work for ??? reasons. So have a couple backups if you’re making some for demonstration purposes.

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Thanks to both of you for your tips! They were very helpful.

I wanted to follow-up with our experience.

Unfortunately, we ended up having to go virtual, which I DO NOT recommend for a project like this. However, it was kind of too late to change it, since we ended up back virtual three days before this was planned, and we already had so many people interested in it, regardless.

We did a couple different examples, and they worked really well. I used the new circuit Zine, which is fabulous. It made it so much easier for us to come up with our own circuits and do our own things.

We ended up giving out all 20 kits that we had made to people 10+. Unfortunately, the way virtual works, it doesn’t really allow us to receive any feedback, except for one adult patron who came back in and said they enjoyed it and wanted more programs like that. So it was kind of a bummer for us, but it’s one of the wonky things that we need to work with sometimes within pandemic restrictions. We’ve established a new makerspace program this year for more hands-on learning, and as soon as we can go back to in-person programs, we’re planning on having another paper circuit program of some kind.


YAY! So glad you were still able to do this project even with the pivot to virtual. For feedback, maybe you could send your participants a Google Form to complete a short survey and share their experience?


We had thought about this, but I live in an area where getting people to use technology is difficult. Getting people to answer surveys is also difficult. Makes tracking successes and failures really interesting!