Category Archives: April 2020

Weighted wings

In my last post I wrote that I would show you the art piece that  led me to make my DIY image tracer.  Weighted wings is part of an ongoing series I am working on about anxiety and may be part of my show Catching smoke, coming in late summer to Harcourt House’s Art Incubator Gallery.  In working on my series All exits look the same, which is about developing and living with chronic illness, I found art to be a therapy of sorts.  Helping me process what was going on in my life and come to a place of acceptance. 

Just prior to becoming ill seven years ago, I was working on some abstract drawings about anxiety, having always lived with it to varying degrees.  Life happened and the idea was put aside.  Two years ago I decided to refocus my artist’s lens on the topic.  I also wanted to begin to incorporate text into some of my work, as words for me are a powerful impetus in creating, and important in telling the story of a piece.

Weighted wings is a piece about how the words, the noise in your head can hold you down, keep you from living the life you want to lead.  As I was figuring out the words, I wrote a lot over several months trying to get a better sense of what triggers my anxiety.  What I found was in doing this and in reading books about being present (thank you to Pema Chödrön) I began to develop strategies to quiet my mind.  Imagine writing down all your worries and anxieties and then just walking away from them.  They are immobilized on paper and you are free to leave them there.  It’s not quite as simple as that, but it’s definitely a start.  


Projection box in use

DIY Tracer Projector


Today’s post is about an image tracer projector I made.  It’s been a while since I posted!  I started working on this back in January or February, but got side tracked by many different things… events, appointments, tax prep, and finally COVID-19.  

I looked into making a tracer projector when I had an idea that required me to enlarge an image.  A projector, which can cost between $50 and $100 (or higher), was more than I wanted to spend for what could be a one-off use.  Next step was YouTube.  I honestly don’t know what we did before YouTube.  There seems to be tutorials for pretty much everything.

To make this you will need a cardboard box, duct tape, painter’s tape or masking tape, a box cutter, and a clear plastic sheet.

For the projector box I used this video from Home Made Simple:  If you plan to use your cell phone’s flashlight as your light source, you can omit cutting a hole in the bottom and just use the projection hole to position your phone.  In this version the maker uses a lamp as the light source.  I didn’t find that worked for me, maybe the lamp was too tall, so I opted to use my cell phone flashlight.  I also used a roll of duct tape to raise the phone inside the box.  For the image stencil or tracing material cut the hole to be slightly smaller than the material you are using so it will lay flat against the box, then tape it to the box along the top with some tape (I used painter’s tape, see images at bottom).  

For the holder for the cell phone, I used scraps from cutting the holes in the box and this video by In the Event with Karem:

It also shows how to make a box from scratch if you don’t have one the right size.  I used an old small appliance box.  

Once the box and holder were built, I focused on material to use for the image.  The maker in the first video used a clear plastic bag. Most of mine are well-used and I found the image to be too fuzzy.  I had some duralar, which is a clear plastic sheet.  I traced my image onto this and the quality when projected was good.  I think any unblemished, smooth, clear plastic should work (e.g. page protector).  

You can also use it to project words from stencils.  Just remember to turn the stencil over so it is backwards.  Here is the finished project, using a word stencil for demonstration:


When setting up the projector, you need to have space to move it forwards or backwards to get the image size you want.  You will also need a somewhat dark space.  Because I was projecting onto a large sheet of paper, I used my hallway and closed all the doors to minimize the light.  If you are projecting an image onto a wall, you may want to cover the window(s) with extra sheets or blankets.  I used books and old DVD cases to prop up the projector to get the right position.  

In my next post I will show you the artwork I created using the projector.