In a previous post, I mentioned I am working on a new series for a solo show at Harcourt House Artist-Run Centre‘s Art Incubator Gallery in 2020. I would like to incorporate text into the series in some way. So far I have spent a lot of time thinking about how this might work and I have not been satisfied with my attempts.
Last week having trouble sleeping, as can happen when anxiety levels are high, I thought about a different method using embossing. Some excited searching at 1:30 am made me think it could work. Lucky for me I had some supplies at the ready, due to a brief flirtation with scrapbooking in the early 2000’s. The next step was to find the right material to work with. My work is digital and I have not bought art supplies in a long while, however I do still have a fairly good assortment of paper from my traditional art material days. After some unsuccessful attempts, I went to You Tube to look up embossing (spoiler alert – the stencil goes under the paper). Next step was to think about making stencils. After trying to trace on paper taped to a window, I realized this was not sustainable. My arm was aching something fierce.
DIY Light table – dust-free, chemical-free, one stop shop
Next step, searching light tables. These can be a bit pricey, from $60-$150 depending on what size you would like to have. If I was going to trace things all the time, I could see making the investment, but for now I want a cheaper option. After looking up DIY light tables I was starting to think I would need to check out some used furniture places for a glass topped end table (not my favourite activity as I find they are like a dust mite rave and I have a strong reaction). Most of the information I found in blogs involved using a router or sawing, getting a specific size of acrylic sheeting, spray painting, etc. I wanted a dust-free, chemical-free one-stop shop kind of option. I checked out Ikea, based on a comment made by a blogger about using an Ikea picture frame and some LED lights. Success! I didn’t think a picture frame would work, now that Ikea uses a thinner plastic for their glazing, but I did find another option.
I purchased the Nesna Nightstand on sale, then sourced a white cardboard box (note: white to increase reflectivity) in the home organization section and purchased LED string lights (lights do not get hot so won’t be a fire hazard). After assembling the nightstand, I put the lights into the box and slid the box under the table top, using the lid to raise it up for a snug fit. Once I knew it would fit, I used a piece of paper palette left over from my painting days and taped it to the underside of the glass top with painter’s tape (you could use waxed paper or white tissue paper). I didn’t want to make it permanent as I want to be able to repurpose the table when I don’t need it as a light table. All in all I am pleased with the result. It cost me about $30. I am thinking of replacing the LED string lights with an LED camping lantern I found in the basement, as I’d like the light to be a bit stronger. My Ikea was out of the 24 light strand, so I bought two 12 light strands, which are ok but not as bright as I’d like. As you can see in the photo below, it will fit a pice of 8.5″x11″ paper.
To make it more permanent, you could close in the sides and bottom of the table and/or use LED strip lighting, however this will increase your costs so you’ll have to decide if it still makes sense to DIY. If you would like a larger table and you don’t mind dust, chemicals and using tools, I found this video, as well as several other options.