How Does it Work?
We’re all familiar with fluorescent dyes like those used in highlighter pens. These dyes look bright because they take in light of a variety of colours and then transmit it back as a single colour. For example, a green highlighter’s ink absorbs the white light which hits it and shines it all back as an intense green colour.
Glow in the dark products take this one step further. They use very clever chemicals which absorb and store the energy from light, then emit it steadily over minutes or even hours. The process has the catchy name of “Phosphorescence”. Usually the light given off is an eerie whitish green glow. Dyes can be added to create other colours, but they won’t be as bright as the whitish green.
Getting the Most Glow
It’s important to remember that the thread needs to be “charged up” with light before it will glow. This only takes a few seconds of bright light (or up to a minute for the full effect). If it’s quickly moved into darkness, you’ll then get a glow for several minutes before it gradually fades out.
The trick to getting the best effect is using the right type of light:
- Standard light bulbs (particularly LED and incandescent) don’t work very well. Although they look bright to humans, they don’t put out the type of light that charges glow in the dark thread effectively
- Fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescents work slightly better
- Direct sunlight is the best choice, a few seconds are enough for a bright charge. However, it’s hard to switch off! You’ll need to quickly move to a dark room to see the glow, and it can take some time for your eyes to adjust.
- Blacklights (UV bulbs) are by far the best option. They can charge up the thread but aren’t visible to the human eye so the thread appears super bright in a dark room.
Creating a Vibrant Glow in the Dark!
You’ll find UV torches available cheaply online. They work well, and are easy to give to the kids to play with in the dark. We use them at events to demonstrate the thread, even in a bright room. For the best possible result, replace a room light or lamp with a compact fluorescent (CFL) blacklight (available from Bunnings for about $15). They’ll give the thread a very bright and long lasting glow!
For the best applications of glow in the dark thread, think about situations where the item will go suddenly from a bright area into the dark – on a shirt walking into a cinema, a stuffed toy on the bed, even a quilt. With a bit of thought you can hide the glow thread beneath another design, revealing something spooky when the lights go out! You’ll be amazed how long it can keep kids entertained.
Embroidery design stitched by Carolyn Keber
Image source: Echidna Sewing & Embroidery Facebook Community