It began this way. I had an old piece of yellow pine. I cut it into little bits, a half an inch thick, and then glued a lot of them together with the end grain to the broad face, and got this:
At some point, after it was to the point shown in the photograph, I happened to hold the piece up to the sunlight. It lit up with beautiful pink/purple/lavender/red dots and bars of light, which somehow was coming through half an inch of solid wood.
Eventually, I made a crude light box and photographed this effect, using artificial light, in a darkened room:
Here are some photos of a piece made of squares of black walnut and sugar maple about one-sixteenth of an inch thick, glued edge-to-edge and then given several coats of Minwax gloss polyurethane spar varnish.
Illuminated from above:
Then i discovered that Osage orange wood was also translucent if cut quite thin.
I cut slices of end-grain from a small Osage orange board I had glued up as a stack of three boards each 5/16"" thick, thus making pieces about 1" in thickness by about 4" long and sawed at about .075 to .085 (i.e. 75 to 85 thousandths of an inch)- about 5/64".
The faces of these thin slices looked like this in daylight:
Then I placed several of these next to each other over a 48-LED solar security light I had sitting around for just that purpose. The result was even more stunning than I had expected.
The first two pictures below show the Osage orange lit by electric light.
The final two were illuminated in sunlight.
Somehow I am going to make something out of this stuff.
Added 4/20 2015: P.S. I taped some pieces together to make a kind of mini-lampshade and put a drop light inside of it and it lit up nicely. The corner bevels are Osage orange, and the large panels are sugar maple and black walnut. (Yum!)
For some reason the walnut is opaque to bright electric light and sunlight, even though it was sliced just as thin (about .080") as the other woods.
The difference in amount of light transmission in the top and the bottom corner pieces is the result of cutting the brighter pieces at the top about .015" thinner than the "thick" (about .080") pieces at the top. This is a temporary assembly anyway.
With the ceiling light on:
Closeup views of the Osage orange corner pieces:
Viewed from a low angle: