Introduction: How to Fabricate a Shamanic LED Light Fitting

About: I'm an artist working within the expanded field of photography, combining computer generated imagery, lighting design, video, and installation. I make work about states of mind, that plays with perception, inc…

The light sculpture is part of Casting Out the Self a cross disciplinary art project about shamanism, and has been designed for an upcoming solo show. The light fitting takes inspiration from shamanic tools used in psychedelic ceremonies. I looked for ways to combine both traditional and modern materials, and integrate into the design LEDs which feature throughout my practice. This is not a comprehensive Instructible, it's more of an insight into my process that shows how I'm combining fabrication and LEDs, and bringing together ideas within my practice.

The fabrication process involves specialist machinery throughout requiring access to a metal workshop, spraying booth & lapidary workshop.



Step 1: Initial Sketch & Modelling in Rhino

The design was first sketched and then taken into C4d for a rough visualisation. To test ideas further I started to source possible components, and piece together how the design might come together. I transferred to Rhino in order to create a far more accurate model, which allowed me to piece together all the sections virtually. I progressed through a few different planning stages as I tried various setups, and problem solved the position of each section of the light fitting. The machined metal components making up the final design are...

  • Base - Milled from block Aluminium
  • Grommet & Screw - Milled out of Brass
  • Perforated Base Plate - Laser Cut 2mm Aluminium
  • Washer Housing for LEDs - Milled from block Aluminium
  • Feet - Milled out of Brass

Step 2: Milling of Metal Components

Detailed plans were put together based upon the Rhino designs, and when the tolerances for all the metal components had been calculated, fabrication could begin. The main base was milled first, and all other parts afterwards. It was decided that Brass would be used for the grommet which protrudes out of the side of the base, and for the feet too, as both would be visible features. The base itself would be sprayed with a flip paint, and into it fitted a light conducting acrylic rod that carried the crystal.

Step 3: Wiring

A 3d printed case for the Trinket was designed (Rhino file included), and code was uploaded onto the board in order to test the LEDs. I made sure to add a resistor to the data line and capacitor to the circuit too, with the Trinket powered via a micro usb. This was connected to a 6mm cable via a stereo jack to the power supply, offering a way to detach the cable from the mains. To maximise heat dissipation I made sure the LEDs had proper contact with a surface. The machined metal washer had small holes countersunk into it, that corresponded to the soldered terminals, and thermal compound was used to fix in place the LEDs. The LED- washer- heatsink- washer sandwich was held in place with a Cirlip which was simple and effective resolve. The Brass grommet was secured in place with a screw, and the circuitboard housing attached to the metal base plate. The following components were used in this process...

NeoPixel Ring - 12 x 5050 RGB LED Cool White

NeoPixel Jewel - 7 x 5050 RGB LED Cool White

Adafruit Trinket - Mini Microcontroller - 5V Logic

390 OHM Resistor

Electrolytic Decoupling Capacitor - 1000uF/25V

6mm Fabric 13amp CableCable

Mico USB connectorNeutrik 6.35mm Locking Jack Stereo Jack Socket

Neutrik 1/4in Cable Mount Stereo Jack Plug

5V 2.4A Switching Power Supply with 20AWG

MicroUSB CableArctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound 3.5g Tube

Step 4: Pre Paint Visualisation, Spraying and Finishing

I visualised the paint finishes available in Maxwell Render to narrow the choice and figure out what worked best. When I reached a decision the paint was purchased and small sample test created. The base was prepared for spraying and a temporary dust free booth was erected . A primer was applied first, then the flip paint which was sanded back with fine grit, and finally finished with a clear coat. During the spraying process the Brass feet, grommet and all components were removed for safety.

Step 5: Crystal

The light fitting is illuminated by an acrylic rod that glows when the LEDs are turned on, with the light traveling up and into the crystal. Selenite was used because of its fibre optic qualities and relative ease to shape with the view to being swapped with a more precious material. The acrylic rod was machined to fit a leather band which wrapped around a section of fur and was bound using a Japanese cross stitch, all of which helped to hold the crystal in place. When all the sections had been crafted they were put together, and the acrylic rod slotted into the sprayed metal base, deciding against fixing the acrylic into the base to allow of safer transportation and general ease for accessing electrics. Having fitted all the components back into the base the light fitting was ready to go.

Make it Glow Contest 2016

Participated in the
Make it Glow Contest 2016