Delcam's ArtCAM software simplifys the making of a Lithophane “Shoji” style lamp
One of my personal favourite projects in the last few months has been using lithophanes in different applications. I’ve been doing the standard portrait format for awhile, both as "suncatchers” and enclosed in light boxes, but since it’s such a unique effect I wanted to try and work it into a piece that would let me capitalize on the "wow” factor when the light is turned on/off.
While going through a clip art collection one day I found a series of Japanese wood prints that were attractive, and I came up with the idea of doing a "Shoji” style lamp using these images as lithophanes.I resized each image to standardize the panel sizes, and went through the same steps I normally do in converting photographs to lithophanes.
The actual process of converting an image to a Lithophane only takes a few minutes and is a pretty straightforward process in ArtCAM. I now can tell just how much material to leave in the background once I have the image on my computer screen. I then found a bright white piece of Corian to use for the panels, and used a small vacuum jig to hold the panels in place as I cut them with a .125” ball nosed bit. Once the panels were complete I did some basic carpentry and made the frame of the lamp to accommodate all of them. A simple "work light” was center mounted through the base of the lamp, and it provides a clear backlit effect for all four sides at once.
An interesting benefit of a lamp such as this is that you can change the "look” just by rotating it 90 degrees in any direction, so it’s almost a miniature gallery. The pictures show the panels, as they looked when they were first cut, and then how they appear as part of the lamp.