Introduction: ‘Weeping Willow’ Optical Fiber Lamp

This is my first fiber optic project, I was inspired by this:

I wanted to make a tree because we have a hammock and I thought hammock and tree might be nice.

Since it is my first fiber optic experience, I wanted to use a product as in the LED-lamps, control and the optic fibers are assembled, so that I can focus on the design and don’t need to deal with the practicalities of the fiber optics technique. In the future I’ll try to make a fiber optics chandelier from scratch.

Once you have all the material, assembling the optical fiber tree takes one or two days depending how complicated you want to have it. Basic skills with tools and electronics are required but I’d still consider it easy to do, I guess it is a fun project with teenagers.

Variations are possible and you’ll be likely to spend some time thinking about how you want your tree.

Step 1: Materials

* a fiber optics ‘starry sky’ product, I used Note: 1 watt LED is not much light, it is rather a self illuminating deco product than a lamp. I couldn't find warm white fiber optics products, tell me if you run into any!

* a box to hold the electronics (I used a praline box), and a way to make holes in the box (depends on box material). I think it is great when it has a lid, for easier assembly and potentially to put the remote control somewhere. Better use an incombustible box

* hot glue (I used three sticks)

* some sort of rail to keep the trunk upright and fix it to the wall

* metal wire to make it tree-structured, I used rusted one because trees are brown. It needs to be stronger than your optic fiber, 1mm or so

* electric components like a socket and cable, depending on your situation, optional: light switch

* a small piece of sandpaper to damage the optic fiber randomly to make it look more organic

* misc tools: screwdriver, knife, pliers, clothe pins

* to attach the tree to the wall: electric drill, screws, dowels

* optional (to hold the remote control so that it doesn’t get lost): onion net, 20 cm piece of string, eyelet, hole punch and rivet pliers

Step 2: The Box for the Electronics

* Make 1) holes in it to fix it to the wall, 2) one hole so your electricity cable can go in and 3) one or several holes so your optic fiber can go out. As for the optic fiber outlet, make sure that the hole is made in a way that you don’t cut the optical fibre, I used hot glue to round the edges. As I used an optical fiber product with four outlets, I made four holes for them in the box

* Decorate the box if you want to, I painted it with wall color

Step 3: The Net (optional)

* I folded the label of the onion net twice, made a hole in it (with the hole punch) and put the eyelet through (with the rivet pliers)

* I put the remote control into the net and closed it with a piece of string

Step 4: Assemble Misc Electronics

* optional: you might want a light switch at the box or in the cable that leads to the box, I didn’t do that because I had a light switch in the wall

* I had a power outlet at the wall without a socket. That is why I bought an extra socket which went into the box as well * note: especially in case you use a metal box, make sure everything electronic is properly isolated

Step 5: Attach the Rail to the Box

In order to not destroy the lamp if you decide to move it to a different room, and to make it easier to make the tree at all, I decided to glue the rail and the box together with hot glue

Step 6: Attach the Fiber Optics Inside the Box

* figure out where the fiber optic product shall sit in the box

* thread the optical fiber through the holes in the box, if you made as small holes as me this is a tiresome business, I helped myself with an improvised paper funnel

* hot-glue or otherwise fix the thing in the box

* hot-glue or otherwise fix your other ingredients (light switch, if it will be attached to the box, the socket in my case) in the box

Step 7: Botany

Go for a walk and look at trees so you make a better willow tree than me.

Step 8: Starting the Trunk

* x amount of pieces of metal wire will support the trunk and the thicker branches, I used ten. Figure out how high your tree is supposed to be from the lowest roots to the top of the tree, add 20%, and cut the desired metal wires of that length, I had them roughly a meter long. Note: the thin parts of the branches that will not be supported by wire, will hang. Therefore, if you intend to not make a weeping tree but a different sort of tree, make sure your whole tree structure is supported by metal wire, even the smallest trunks, you will need many metal wire pieces.

* metal wires aren’t easy to operate, one has to start somewhere. take your metal threads and twist them together where the lowest part of the trunk is, where the trunk becomes roots. take one wire towards the side of the tree will be and fix it to the rail.

* make roots. They don’t have to be pretty yet, all you want at the moment is to stabilize the metal wires against each other so you can work well with them on the trunk and branches

Step 9: Trunk and Branches

* twist the optical fiber and wrap the metal thread around them. join the trunk to the rail in some points so that it can carry the weight but looks organic, the trunk should be bent a bit.

* when you bend the optic fiber or push it against something, it emits light at that point. When you make the trunk and branches, make sure you twist and push the optical fiber so your trunk and branches shine, don’t destroy them though. If you aren’t sure, illuminate the future tree so you get an idea what you are doing

* at the thin branch end of the metal threads, bend the last centimeter of them back over itself and the optical fiber to keep the branch from untwisting and to prevent injury in case someone walks into the tree

* how you actually do it depends on which tree, see ‘botany’, for a weeping willow I let go optical fibers from the branches, three or four at a time

Step 10: Weeping Branches

* switch on the light and look at your tree. How do you like the ‘weeping branches’? If you like the tree as it is, you might give the optical fibers a hair cut and go to ‘attach it to the wall’

* for me, optical fiber things always painfully resemble 80ies decoration and I want the tree to look more organic. there are two things to do about it:

* with a piece of sand paper scratch the trunk and branches a bit to damage the optical fiber in a way that in emits light irregularly and it looks more like bark

* add hot glue to the hanging thin branches, it makes them heavier and makes them emit light irregularly. You have to be very careful and preferably first make an exercise with hot glue and optical fiber somewhere at a very end of the optical fiber pieces so you get an idea how very little hot glue you can apply before it melts the optical fiber. Anyway, I found it worth it, and joined three and sometimes four optical fibers with hot glue, so dread-lock things started hanging from my tree

* depending on the situation, shorten your optical fibers (‘haircut’)

Step 11: Attach It to the Wall

* hold the tree to the wall where it is supposed to go and trace where you’ll drill

* drill, use dowels and screws to fix it to the wall

* optional, the net: when screwing the box to the wall I included the eyelet of the net

* make it pretty, bend the branches and roots in a way that it looks nice and no-one gets injured

* switch on the light and enjoy