Like many people, this winter was pretty bad for me. The isolation at home, the chaotic election, the violent attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government… I realize things were even worse for people who actually got sick, but the rest of us still had a lot to deal with. To help fight the depression, I bought one of those full spectrum lamps to at least help combat the winter blahs that are caused by lack of sunlight during the Winter. I think it helped, even if it was just the feeling that I was trying something new.
I bought a small-ish, flat-panel light that I could mount on the wall over my desk, or place off to the side on a table. It works great, and has a timer function so that I can chunk out my work day. The only problem is that its modern aesthetic clashes with my rustic Japanese decor preferences. So, I made a cedar “shoji” frame to disguise the lamp.
I can’t show you what it looks like with the light on, because the lamp is so bright that you wouldn’t be able to see anything else in the photo besides the glowing rectangle. I am thinking of adding some kumiko lattice-work to the frame opening, but kumiko are so trendy right now that I don’t know if I can bring myself to do that. Honestly, if one more person responds to me saying “I do some Japanese-style woodworking.” with “Have you tried kumiko?” I may stop discussing woodworking entirely.
Progress on the wood frame lanterns to fit the solar flicker lighting units continues! I completed the fifth of six planned lanterns recently, this one made from some surplus poplar lumber I had in the garage.
Here is the lantern hanging in the Shourou at night after a recent snowfall:
I just completed another lantern for the “six lanterns” project. The frame of this one is made out of mulberry wood. I had a small plank of this that Mr. Arimoto gave to me probably about seven years ago, and it seemed like a good project to use it on.
Of course, with the paper on it like that, you can barely see any of the wood. The fibers in this plank were very rough and wavy, but in the places where my plane got a good shaving, the surface is super-nice.
I rough-milled the sticks from the plank using my band saw, then hand planed them down to 3/4″ square rods. There really wasn’t enough wood in the plank to make it entirely from mulberry. To compensate, I made some of the stretchers a little shorter than normal, and used dowel joinery instead of my usual mortise and tenon joinery. This was a little easier, since it meant cutting short lengths of dowel instead of cutting 16 tenons, but it meant drilling twice as many mortises, half of them into the ends of stretchers. I could not have done it without my drill press.
This is the third lantern in a series of at least six. This simple Japanese frame lantern is made from some Western Pennsylvania cherry lumber that I bought a bunch of years ago and am still working scraps out of. It follows the same design as the Oak Solar Flicker Lantern and Maple Solar Flicker Lantern before it.
I have a new method for applying the paper that I think yields a much tighter and smoother result. I’m using Warlon Taf-Top shoji paper, so I can’t just dampen the paper to shrink it. Unless the lantern is perfectly square, wrapping a correctly-sized strip of paper around it leaves wrinkles or bulges. Instead, I cut the paper oversized, apply it to the lantern, then trim the paper down so that it is perfectly straight and flat. It watses a bit more paper, but I think it is more attractive.
The shoji in the background were made about a decade ago, and are made from cedar. I bought the bunny painting from an antique store.
This lantern is mostly made from some surplus 3/4″ oak I had in the garage. It uses the same mortise-and-tenon frame I’ve used for the other lanterns, except for the two diagonal braces just under the top rails. The suspension mechanism is also a little different, just some 1/8″ nylon rope inserted through drilled holes, and a brass ring.
The exterior is some Warlon Taf-Top shoji “paper”. This paper is coated with polyester fibers, making it water resistant and more durable than paper. It’s good stuff, and not that much more expensive than regular shoji paper. The paper is just wrapped around the outside and held in place with double-sided tape.
The top part of the garden light drops into the top of the lantern and rests on the diagonal braces. The top part has the solar panel, battery, and bulb; and is itself sealed against weather. This makes it the ideal lighting unit for this kind of project. The bulb is actually a cob of dozens of LEDs that play a little flame animation. It’s very realistic.
At Pennsic, the group we camp with likes to hang lanterns out in front of camp. Solar lanterns means we don’t have to worry about burning anything down or changing batteries. I’ll need to make a bunch more of these lanterns before Pennsic returns next year, if Pennsic returns next year.