Friday, April 17, 2015

Translucent Woods

Recent photographs of effects of light through thin end-grain wood slices.

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:

Now, this was getting exciting, this light through wood business. I decided to try some other kinds of woods. 

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:

 Placed on top of a 24-LED flashlight, and illuminated from below:

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.


 A combination of light from above and through-light  from underneath, created this effect:

 This one and the one directly above show the Osage orange pieces lit by sunlight. The shadows are of my fingers.

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:

...and off:

Closeup views of  the Osage orange corner pieces:

Viewed from a low angle:

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