David Andora profile
Ideas, inspiration & instruction… Thoughts & assessments… Technical details…

Create A Spooky Face in a Mirror effect

Red Plastic Party Cup Light String

I created a “spooky face in-the-mirror” special effect in 2009. The effect is of three green glowing framed mirrors that have a spooky face which appears to move from frame to frame on a continuous loop throughout the event. The effect was created with (the now discontinued: 8/19) 3:  ÜNG DRILL frames from IKEA, which I painted fluorescent green. The ÜNG DRILL frames are now available as both frames and mirrors (though not the 2-way variety).  I’ve got a supply of custom computer-cut 2 way mirrors specifically for these frames for your own DIY project. Learn more about how to create this effect…

Pole-Mounted Mason Jar Garden Lights

Pole-Mounted Mason Jar Garden Lights

Mason jar lights are fairly common, but typically in a configuration where they are hung in an upright postion. I had an idea to create a lighting installation in a darker area of my condo building’s courtyard, and in my case, using mostly repurposed materials. I wanted to create the effect of multiple points of lights at varying height and depths, and with the fixtures and supports less noticeable. Mason jars make really great light globes for exterior use because their excellent at keeping precipitation, bugs and everything else out, as well as being super affordable! In my example configuration, the lights at their varying height and depths, almost floating in space as you walk around them.

Play this fun game with your dog.

I came up with this fun game for Comet the dog to play. It’s a fun way to entertain with a simple challenge. Perhaps not for all dog (or human) personalities, but training Comet took only a few times before he understood the game which occupies him for at least 15 minutes. Learn how to play the game in this 55 second video we made:

It’s pretty simple, but it will occupy your dog’s time and engage their mind for a good long while.

DIY Onesie/ Jumpuit


Sean and I were planning our adventure to Burning Man in 2012 and preparing creative things to wear when adult-sized onesies were just starting to appear but existing options were costly and didn’t offer quite the fit or style we were looking for, so we set out to create our own. If you use the pattern we’ve included as-is, you will create what you see us wearing. You’ll need to be comfortable making adjustments if you have different proportions. I’m 5’7″ 145 lbs, and Sean is 5’8″ 150 lbs. The finished onesie is super comfy and fun to wear. If you enjoy being a bit ridiculous like we do, you’ll discover how awesome they can be at a theme park, party or other outing.

Make a Faux-Bronze Crow Statue

Faux Bronze Crow Statue

I live in a gated courtyard building in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. We have two columns at our entryway that I wanted to design large, realistic, but thematic statuary for their tops during the Halloween season. I also love crows, and that classic Edgar Allen Poe– haunted aesthetic. I think they look great on these columns, but there are many places they could look just as dramatic, as well as beyond of the Halloween season!  You can build these without too much trouble for far less than you would spend on similarly sized statuary.

Your Complete DIY Guide to the Singing Pumpkins Illusion

In 2001, Disneyland introduced the Nightmare Before Christmas elaborate holiday overlay to their Haunted Mansion attraction. In the section normally featuring the beloved bust statues singing “Grim Grinning Ghosts“, they are displayed with singing, animated jack-o-lanterns covering them. Since then, and especially more recently this highly effective illusion has been replicated by enthusiasts everywhere with a wide range 🙂 / 🙁 of results.

In 2009 I created my first installation of this effect in my courtyard for Halloween, where it consistently entertains and bewilders. This instructable will detail important information for you to create a professional-level special effect which might rival the original effect at Disneyland! Enjoy!

Upgrade Your Refrigerator Lighting for $20

Upgrade Your Refrigerator Lighting

A couple years ago,  we returned home from an expensive vacation in the desert to learn that our fancy-pants french-door fridge’s compressor had bit the dust, naturally just after the warranty expired. Repairs seemed to be a short term and expensive option, so we searched for an affordable replacement.

One of the most defining attributes to the refrigerators I was drawn to, but could not afford was the ample interior illumination of higher end models. It’s more common to find a single bulb up top, and when looking at models on display, the empty interior is well lit. However, once you begin to fill the shelves, everything gets pretty dim. We ended up buying an open box side-by-side model that had the most basic components we wanted for a really great price. Prior to delivery I had decided that I would upgrade the lighting using inexpensive LED tape.

The entire process took about an hour and the results make our refrigerator and it’s contents look spectacular. Even in our often very packed fridge, everything on each shelf is well illuminated. With no dark corners, It’s rare that something is left to be forgotten. This is definitely something you can add to your weekend projects. The cost and effort is minimal compared to the benefit!

Building a Giant Toy Tank

Building a Giant Toy Tank

We were contracted by a Chicago event promoter to create a tank/DJ booth for their “Paint Wars” event in Milwaukee, WI. Originally it was designed to shoot fluorescent tempera paint 30-50′ from the end, along with confetti and CO2 blasts. It was no small feat designing a system to effectively do all of that via one tank gun, and It came with a very large price tag. Budget constraints resulted in a tank with a UV laser effect. Entirely in fluorescent colors, it is especially super-vivid in person when hit with UV light. The front treads have a chasing effect to create the illusion of motion. We think it looks like a big children’s toy, perfect since the people attending an event where you’re hit with cold wet paint the whole night are still children 😉

My Disney World bag featuring Made with Magic technology

 Disney World bag featuring Made with Magic technology

Disney Parks developed a really innovative product with their Made with Magic(formerly Glow With The Show) Mickey ears. They are their iconic Mickey ear hats but with illuminated ears. When worn during evening shows they are controlled with Infrared technology to illuminate in sync with the show’s lighting and mood. They debuted at Disney’s California Adventure “World of Color” show, but are expanding with other shows and areas including Disney World. Their control capability is fairly robust considering the relatively basic components. But as with most truly special things, the technology is only as good as the creativity utilizing it. The artistry of each show’s brilliant lighting programming really creates a seamless, immersive and totally unique experience.

With an upcoming trip planned to Disney World, I wanted to see what I could do to incorporate the lights and control technology into something other than the Mickey Ears. The ears are really fun looking, but for a few reasons, including wanting to be able to see the effect personally, I looked forward to the challenge of installing the technology in something else that made more sense for me. There are a fair number of limitations to reincorporating the electronics unless you start soldering tiny and delicate parts, which I had no interest in. Working with those limitations (battery placement, limited LED spacing), a few ideas emerged, but finally decided on creating a small shoulder bag where I would incorporate the two sets purchased.

All of the effort was worth it and it was a HUGE hit at the theme parks from guests and cast members alike, so I’ve gone about making this Instructable for anyone to make their own, or to inspire you to make your own unique Made with Magic item. Here’s how I went about making this fun-and a bit silly bag.

Make Plastic Party Cup Light Strings

Red Plastic Party Cup Light String

When designing the look of a new weekly night at a Chicago nightclub designed to emulate a house-party vibe, the ubiquitous red plastic party cup became the icon. Many elements were designed as decorations for the night using them, but one in particular was particularly simple and really stood out- plus we hadn’t seen it done before. It’s so simple and fetching, I hope others will be inspired to make a set of this fun string of lights, great for outdoor spaces! Our popular Instructable has since been featured on lifehacker and many other sites.

My Composer Bust Statue Costumes

David Andora's Composer Bust Statue Costumes

Invited to be members of the audience for the 2008 Martha Stewart Halloween Special, broadcast LIVE from her New York Studios, myself and my 3 guests had only one requirement. We must come dressed as statues.

Initially this requirement might sound easy enough, but if you really think about it, most any figure can be a statue if they remain completely still. This makes it harder to be clear that your costume is a statue without visual clues like monotone coloring, etc… or you are a famous statue, like the “Statue of Liberty”, etc… I knew those costumes would be taken by others in the studio audience for sheer popularity. I have a particular fondess for the sort of creepy bust statues you find in a Disney Haunted Mansion, or similarly creepy environment, so I came up with this original concept for us to be 4 famous composer busts.

Giant Butterfly Puppets

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I am part of a very small group of friends, artists and creative engineers who are constantly dreaming up fun ideas for projects.

A burlesque dancer friend hired me to create a set of four giant butterfly puppets for a new routine. They had some specific challenges: In addition to looking beautiful and reasonably lifelike, they needed to be relatively easy to operate, portable, lightweight and durable. Not having any similar puppets to research, I had to design these with my best judgement and hope that the result would be as intended.

Building a GIANT Chandelier

GIANT honeycomb chandelier at Nikki/ Crobar nightclub.

We were tasked with building a semi-permanent chandelier/installation at Chicago Nightclub, “Nikki”, formerly Crobar. It was built on the request for a more permanent structure based on a similar installation I designed and built from large mylar balloons.

This “chandelier” is 13′ in diameter. Built from 126 Mirrored hexagons. 90 white framed hexagons.
Lighting consists of 126 small light bulbs in 12 channels and a trio of color changing LED fixtures.
With the exception of the custom steel hoops, which we had outsourced, this was designed and built entirely by Sean and I. The finished result is especially spectacular in person, as the reflected surfaces and negative spaces really mess with your mind and it becomes difficult to really understand what you are looking at. 🙂 Here’s how we made it:

Comet the Dog’s “Mouse Hole”

Make a Pet Lounge from Closet Space with a Mouse-Hole Entrance

My dog Comet began using the floor of my bedroom closet as a dark and quiet retreat. The floor has blankets and pillows and if I fit better, I’d climb in there for a nap too! The office is on the opposite side of the closet, and it occurred to me that it could be quite fun to make a large enough, cartoonish “mouse hole” for him to access the space. The project took just a couple hours over two days, and is used many times a day by Comet.