Secret Image Shadow & Light Sculpture

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About: Dan Goldwater is a co-founder of Instructables. Currently he operates MonkeyLectric where he develops revolutionary bike lighting products.

This hanging light sculpture looks interesting from any angle, and makes nice shadows. But from one precise viewing point, a secret image is revealed! You can build a sculpture like this from any number of different materials.

Step 1: Select Your Materials

I built this sculpture using scrap plastic triangles and this brass rod. Any number of other materials could be used. You just need some stiff bendable wire (brass or copper around 1-2mm diameter are good choices) and a lot of chunks of material you can easily fasten the wire to.

Step 2: Make Attachment Points in the Chunks of Material

here, I laser-cut small holes in the plastic triangles. If using wood or metal pieces, you can just drill holes. We'll be inserting the wire into the holes so it fits tightly. As an alternative, you could not bother with holes and glue, solder or weld the wire to the pieces.

Step 3: Assemble the Sculpture

i did not plan this sculpture out much. I knew what secret shape I was making, and then I just started sticking together wire and plastic and bending it around.

Draw the secret shape you are making on a piece of paper, and tape that paper to the wall. While you are assembling, you will be constantly holding up the sculpture at arm's length and viewing against the template on the wall. then bend any piece which is out of position to fit the template.

Wear latex gloves to keep fingerprints off the pieces, otherwise you will need to clean afterwards with alcohol.

After assembly, I put a little glue on a lot of the connections to prevent shifting. Or, you could dip the entire thing in paint.

Step 4: Hang From Ceiling and Enjoy!


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    38 Discussions

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    CarlzAmez

    8 years ago on Step 4

    this is sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool!!! I <3 it, ur very creative! :D

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    ill4tune

    9 years ago on Step 4

    THNEEDLE already asked my question. how thick should it be? as in, how deep from the hidden angle should the sculpture as a whole be? oh, and how many feet/meters of wire did you use?

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    danill4tune

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    it doesn't really matter.   if you are viewing it from 3 feet away while constructing, then when you shine a light at it the shadow will be best seen with the object 3 feet from a wall.  a deep object will have more parallax, and thus will be viewable from less variation in distance, but always fine from the exact distance used during construction.  the first photo is about 90 degrees rotated from the 2nd. 

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    matroska

    8 years ago on Introduction

     This mixed with another similar instructable will make me do a "the cake is a lie" hidden message :D

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    Sam_I_Am

    9 years ago on Step 4

    I love this idea! This could make an awesome mothers day/valentines day gift!

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    KreaKatri

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice! I'm definitely going to try and make one of those when I get my own place How hard is it to get the shape right? Could you fx make a star or a flower, or would that be too difficult?

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    Kenta-Rin

    9 years ago on Step 4

    So, you kind of just wing it? That is so awsome! :D

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    tjk94

    9 years ago on Introduction

    For those of you that watch warehouse 13 doesn't this remind you of the sculptures that made a map with their shadows when aligned correctly :) great job!

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    tjk94Modarius

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    It was the one with the Native American artifacts and the cloak that allows the wearer to pass through solid objects. It's hard to describe an episode without giving to much away:)

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    moseph

    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is so cool. It reminds me of this sculpture they have at UChicago that looks abstract but on May 1st the sun is at an angle such that it displays a hammer and sickle (the artist didn't agree with UChicago's economics dept.)

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    TazzyUK

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Cool. Very much like the TV 'channel 4' sequences they have during ad breaks (in the UK). It's not noticable at first as then as time goes by, or you get closer, or the scene is rotated, a shape emerges...which in case of the TV channel 4, is a number 4. I did a computer graphic version many years ago using 'Imagine' 3d software I think on my Amiga 3000. Brings back fond memories :-)

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    Gypsyman

    10 years ago on Step 4

    i still have no clues how you did that haha.

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    thneedle

    10 years ago on Step 4

    I'm confused. What happened btwn steps 3 and 4? Did you "build" it as a flat shape and then pull it out to a 3-D version afterwards? It looks very cool!

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    danthneedle

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 4

    i built it in 3-d. step 3 *is* 3-d, but we're looking at it at the precise angle where all the black bits line up in front of and behind each other to show the pattern. that's the magic!

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    Tintan

    10 years ago on Step 4

    Wow! This is fantastic, thanks:)