Introduction: Shadow Sculptures!

Awesome sculpture that looks like a pile of trash, but when you shine a light on it.... BAM! It suddenly finds... meaning? I guess what I'm trying to say, is that through the pile of trash I can create something of beauty. Something that people will WANT to look at. I've been looking for a new way to recycle trash into art and here it was...

I found a gallery of shadow sculptures. They amazed me because I didn't know how a pile of trash could have the shadow of a motorcycle or a person! I decided that I would try my own version...

Step 1: Gathering Materials...

So first off you will need a bunch of junk to use. This is your opportunity to go dumpster diving. I used a bunch of recyclables myself. This is the easiest part, because you shouldn't be selective or biased based on the shape of the object. Just grab everything! (anything that doesn't go rotten or smell after a couple days)

Materials needed:

+A base of some sort. I ended up just grabbing a large cardboard box.
+Trash/junk
+Large sheet of paper/piece of cardboard/wall you don't mind drawing on.
+Something to bind the sculpture together (I personally used superglue and silicone)
+A source of light. I used a simple household lamp.

WhiteOakArt mentioned a good tip that I thought I'd share:

Hot melt glue would be my choice for an adhesive. It has nearly instant sticking power. If you are a hot melt connoisseur, like myself, you would use three different guns:
low temp: quick set, relatively safe. for light weight items. Available at craft stores, grocery stores, and department stores. This is what your preschool teacher uses.
high temp: industrial power. for heavy weight items. Will fry your skin off, so be careful. These guns are not easy to find. You must get them at a tool supply company. But they work great.
medium temp: for everything else. You can find these at any hardware store.

Or you could just use the medium temp, which is what reasonable people do.

Step 2: Sketching Your Shadow

In order to make a shadow, you need to know what you are creating (you could just wing it and see what you come up with, but I'm not sure I can do that).

I ended up deciding on something fairly simple, the shadow of a sitting cat.
First you will need to take your large piece of paper/cardboard/wall and draw a sketch of what you want in the end. Refine it until you are satisfied, but you can always make shadows outside the lines if you screw up.

If you are working with paper or cardboard, tape it up on a wall.
This is going to be the perimeter for the sculpture.

Step 3: Setting Up the Light

In order for your sculpture to be... reliable? You will need to make sure that your light is set up correctly. It is very disappointing if someone moves your light source and you don't know where it was supposed to be!

Place your light source where you would like it and mark the set-up on the base. You will need to make sure that not only you mark WHERE it is on the base but how HIGH from the base it is.

Step 4: Building the Shadow

Finally after all that set-up, you get to build the shadow!
This is actually easier than you may think. All it takes is filling in the perimeter you set-up earlier!

Some notes:

Picture 1
The cereal box has been torn on purpose. You should try to stray away from doing this too often, as it tends to be considered as "cheating". If you have no other options, you can resort to this, as in small parts it can be helpful and look pretty cool.


Picture 2
At times the pieces of junk that you use will need to be balanced in a certain position. This means that you will need them to be glued that way. But unfortunately, not all glues are instant. So you will need to hold it in place while it dries a bit.

Step 5: Finished!

That's it! Pretty easy huh? Now go and make a bunch of shadow sculptures. Amaze people with your shadow prowess ;)

Step 6: Extra Tips...

A couple extra tips before I stop...

1. Clear objects help to create mid-air shadows/holes.

2. Clear objects cast nearly no shadow. You will find that clear objects do cast a partial shadow. So, do not assume that no one can see the shadow but you.

3. Don't be afraid to build outside the lines! If you think that the shadow looks better somewhere else, change it! In my sculpture, I did not like where the left ear was, so I moved it over.

4. Take a picture when you are done and show me! I'd love to see what you came up with.

Comments

author
justjimAZ (author)2015-08-30

Any tips for making stuff like this?

http://www.kumiyamashita.com/light-and-shadow/

kumi1.jpgkumi2.jpg
author
qdogg (author)2015-08-18

How about putting the junk on a turntable so after awhile the shadow turns to random shapes, then back to the proper shape, or maybe more than one shape from the same pile. Also, if you shine red and blue lights on the piece & wear old school 3D glasses you could get a 3D shadow.

author
TheJehosephat (author)qdogg2015-08-19

I love the ideas! If I can find the time, I'll have to experiment

author
qdogg (author)TheJehosephat2015-08-19

That's always been my problem, so a lot of art takes place in my head.
I'm always happy to share ideas because they stand a better chance of manifestation that way. I'd rather someone else develop one of my projects than not have it ever happen.

author
maltesergr8 (author)2012-11-23

Wow!! Amazing what can be made, with just a little bit of imagination!

Beth

author
chicopluma (author)2011-08-06

haha pretty cool

author
star2 (author)2009-12-12

 it would be a cool trick to make someones shadod a wolf 

author
cbubblehead (author)2009-02-18

your right! Never know what shadow will be like I post this picture. Shadow came from chewed seat belt in my van.

author
rhino (author)2009-02-12

If you want a cat shadow why not just cut a cat out of cardboard and put a light behind it? Why waste all the time playing with trash?

author
billbob (author)rhino2009-02-12

because its more creative, artistic and impressive..

author
rhino (author)billbob2009-02-12

Ok, but then you have a pile of junk sitting around gathering dust. That does not seem too artistic or creative or impressive. Just messy.

author
billbob (author)rhino2009-02-12

i would consider this EXTREMELY impressive...the cat may not be quite that good but you have to start somewhere.

link from below

author
artmakesmesmile (author)2009-02-11

Heya.. thanks for the great tips links etc... very interesting and inspirational. Might use this technique with my 3rd year degree show... mmmm

author
CapinPorcupine (author)2008-11-04

Haha this is awsome im totally making one of these asap

author
whiteoakart (author)2007-07-22

Hot melt glue would be my choice for an adhesive. It has nearly instant sticking power. If you are a hot melt connoisseur, like myself, you would use three different guns: low temp: quick set, relatively safe. for light weight items. Available at craft stores, grocery stores, and department stores. This is what your preschool teacher uses. high temp: industrial power. for heavy weight items. Will fry your skin off, so be careful. These guns are not easy to find. You must get them at a tool supply company. But they work great. medium temp: for everything else. You can find these at any hardware store. Or you could just use the medium temp, which is what reasonable people do.

author

That's a good tip right there. When I get the chance I will add that to the instructable. Would you mind?

author

I don't mind. In fact I would be delighted. Isn't that what Instructables is all about, Sharing? Have a great day. I love this Instructable. I think my kids will really like trying it.

author
thesupermarket (author)2007-07-23

here are a few artists working like this:
ian burns
Tim Noble and Sue Webster etc.

author
indulis (author)2007-07-23

The best live shadow puppetry I've ever seen was Penn and Teller in their show in Las Vegas. Just astonishing (and they are cool magic hackers as well).

author
catzgirl (author)2007-07-22

Boy that cat one really looks good. Like a real kitty.

author
whiteoakart (author)2007-07-22

Really great. Looks like a cool summer project to keep the kids busy and out of trouble.

author
Kirk G (author)2007-07-20

This type of idea (sculptures as well as shadows) are becoming more popular. For an adult themed reference, check out almost any of the three Austin Powers movies...especially the last one: Goldmember!

author
Jafafa Hots (author)2007-07-20

Something like this could be done with larger objects and outdoor lighting to create cool shadows in your yard

author
cati (author)2007-07-20

I love the work of Fred Eerdekens, artist who plays with light and shadows in a very elegant and simplistic way, to give sens to a magma of clothing, metal, clouds. He uses very simple elements of design, and yet it has a strong impact. Playing with our expectations of what an object can and/or cannot do, artists can impress us. In his work, shadows of objects turn into words, it is beautiful, check it out!
Shadow of Objects

Also a very fun project, the shadow monsters created by Philip Worthington at the RCA. You play with your hands, their shadows transforms into monster on a projector screen. Awesome!
Shadow Monsters

author
royalestel (author)2007-07-17

Double plus good!

author
JakeTobak (author)2007-07-16

Wow, that's really cool. Although, there are a lot of cool things on this site. Unfortunately, I will never do any of them T_T

author
royalestel (author)JakeTobak2007-07-17

Why not? This has got to be one of the easiest (and coolest). Take your trash, a lamp, and some duct tape and go to it!

author
ongissim (author)2007-07-17

Great job! Now if there could be animation involved... :-)

author
TheJehosephat (author)ongissim2007-07-17

I've been thinking about this myself and have come up with a couple ideas. If one of them works, I'll make an instructable!

author
iamnotsancho (author)2007-07-17

I've been wondering how to do that. I'll use this for sure...cheers!

author

You know, that's the exact page that inspired me to do this? Nice find, I lost the link :P

author
Erik Lindemann (author)2007-07-17

Nice job, that looks really cool. Did you submit it to the "Go Green" Contest?

author

Actually, I didn't join in that contest until you mentioned it! Thanks a lot!

author
zecapataintuna (author)2007-07-17

awesome. I have been thinking about trying this for a while, I really like the idea of shadow art. I will use your awesome instructable to help me finally try this out. great job!

author
Bran (author)2007-07-16

Great first! Definitely gonna have to try this one!

author
HamO (author)2007-07-16

Way too cool! Well done instructable. Thanks for sharing.

author
drum303 (author)2007-07-16

Well done!

author
robertm (author)2007-07-16

wow that is pretty cool and creative nice instructable