I wanted to make a Christmas decoration as my entry for the calender. The idea of being creative to a deadline is something entirely new and my ideas changed somewhat between the start and finish. I've decided to include all 3 variations here (although the third one isn't really finished)
I started wanting to make a cool angel based on some of the awesome angel wing effect of Tyreal from Diablo II. I built upon my previous Lithophane instructable but I just couldn't get a christmassy angel design from it so I just ended up making a lithophane of Tyreal which came out rather well. From here the design split into a better angel shape and a much more christmassy lithophane.
I'm fortunate enough to own a laser cutter, paid for by sales of my iron man arc reactor (thank you instructables community) So it would have been silly not to use it for all the hard work but this can still be cut using a scalpel and some patience. I recommend getting a good cutting matt and a new scalpel blade before starting.
Step 1: Tyreal Design
Load up the base image in a vector editing program, I used inkscape. I then traced around the image creating new vector shapes for the significant parts of the image. I decided that 4 colours would show enough details. I also wanted a completely flat front to the image so it looks like a sheet of paper from the outside. This means I require 3 layers of paper underneath the top surface.
I roughly set out the 3 different layers. The whitest layer should be the wings and the flaming sword, anything that is pure white and made of light. The robes hands and smaller wings should be the next lightest colour. The armour should be darker still and everything else should be left as black (or as dark as possible with 4 layers of paper)
Once all the parts have been drawn round they should be copied and grouped into the appropriate layers. The white parts are required to be cut into all 3 parts, the robes on 2/3 sheets etc. I duplicated the whole image 3 times and deleted parts from each layer before combining the remaining parts to form the cut outlines.
Separate vector parts for each layer can be found in the svg.
Step 2: Tyreal Assembly
Each of the layers was cut on the laser cutter. Some of the pieces form islands within the paper and care must be taken not to lose those.
Start with the front sheet of the decoration (it has no holes in it and is just a full size piece of paper). Glue the darkest layer to this front sheet. It will have the most material left on it so you can stick them all to the front.
Add the other layers in order of darkness. The islands can be positioned using the cutouts to align them within the target hole.
Once you have all the layers together you can hold it up to the light to see what it looks like
Step 3: Tyreal Light Source
Once the paper is built up into 4 layers it becomes quite inflexible so the best thing to do is mount it to a flat item and create a flat light source to go with it. I built a small frame to mount my image on using my laser cutting scraps. I've been wanting to do something with these long thin strips for a while.
This version of the frame is really basic, 4 strips (2 for each side) and then small blocks to go in each corner to strengthen and make square. I have better intentions to make the corner blocks triangular with tabs that hold the edges together but time wasn't on my side.
I used small surface mount LED's attached to the inside of the frame to create the illumination. I have a few of these for the iron man project. I fix them up in pairs with a 180 Ohm resistor between them and connect the pairs up in parallel to a 9V battery. 12 LED's should provide enough light to go within the box. The wires were fed through a strain relief hole in one of the corners.
A piece of white paper was mounted behind the frame to reflect white light forward and through the lithophane. A quick test here revealed that the LED's were shining quite a lot of light through the front and I was getting points of bright light on the final image so I also added a small piece of paper over each light to diffuse the pattern even more.
I think it's a cool angel but it isn't very christmassy so I went back to the drawing board with a new design.
Step 4: Christmas Lamp
The christmas lamp is another lithophane design but this time it is circular which provides it's own problems. Each of the layers has to be slightly wider than the last so that all the parts align correctly. I found out the hard way that it is much easier to do this around some kind of former, so head out and get yourself a pringles tube to construct the lithophane around. There is quite a lot of detail in the base layer for this design and I cheated a bit for the other layers. I wanted high contrast in the middle layer so I made those parts individually out of black card and stuck them down. The hills layer only has 1 point of alignment so once that is correct the rest can be trimmed away as need be.
Start by removing the top of the pringles tube, this is so you can slide the lithophane off the top when complete.
Take the bottom layer and tape one edge of it to the tube, only tape the top and bottom corners so you can remove this tape when it is no longer required. Wrap the layer around the pringles tube, there is some overlap which is used to glue the sheet closed. Carefully remove the tape from the corners and glue those shut too. Now you should have the base layer which can freely rotate around the pringle tube.
Add the black details to the base layer. Alignment is important so take your time here to get it right. Next wrap the hills layer around the bottom of the tube making sure to match the hill with the bottom of the snowman (unless you want a levitating snowman). Trim off any excess overlap from this layer.
Finally take the top sheet and wrap it around the tube. I started at one edge making sure it was secure so I could pull it tight as I went around. The contrast between the layers is important and this is acheived by making sure the layers are close together. I applied the glue in small (5cm) sections at a time making sure I got lots of coverage over the letter details and in between the stars etc.
Once the whole thing is tight and dry you can remove the pringles can from the center and you're left with what looks like a plain white paper tube.
Step 5: Christmas Lamp
The lamp still needs a light source. There are lots of instructables showing how to wire LED's up or you could just buy a night light style push lamp (these seem to be in all the pound stores). I am using one of my new PCB's made for my arc reactors. This gives me 10 super bright surface mount LED's all pointing in the right direction and neatly arranged near the edge of the lamp.
A 9V battery is concealed under the PCB and the whole thing placed inside the lithophane tube to provide a light source. It wouldnt take too much to create a base for the lithophane so it could all be lifted as one piece and moved around.
One of the other pretty features I noticed, the 10 LED's shine out of the top of the lamp at slightly different angles so they create this really nice patten on the ceiling.
Step 6: Angel Wings
While I was making the Tyreal Lithophane I had an interesting idea about how to make some more cool wings but this time using wood veneer instead of paper. Each individual feather is made from a piece of veneer and then glued to to the next feather along. finally a larger spine of veneer (1.2mm thick) was put along the top of the wing to hide the messy edge of the feathers. Once all the feathers were together I blobbed some glue along the back to give them extra strength.
These wings are currently looking for a body to hold them together, perhaps I'll make up a fairy for the top of the tree using them.
A bit of a random mish mash instructable but I guess I'm not that good at working to a deadline. I was inspired with one more idea though that I will try to get working and posted up soon which I think is better than all of these so stay tuned (and possibly subscribe to see when it appears)