Solar-Lantern-art - 4/4/14
"DIY Medieval-Looking Solar Lanterns" by HL Eulalia de Ravenfeld.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
You can find more work by this author on her blog at: http://briwaf.blogspot.com
DIY Medieval-Looking Solar Lanterns
by HL Eulalia de Ravenfeld
I'm going to start this post off by saying that I am just stupidly proud of this project.
I need more light in my encampment, and while I don't want to sit around in the dark, I also have objections to a lot of my available options. My criteria for lighting are: historical (in appearance if not function), easy to transport (no heavy and breakable ceramic oil lamps), inexpensive, and moderately safe. That last one gets really tricky, and basically totally eliminates a lot of my more historical choices.
As I've been researching lighting options, I've pinned a lot of what I've found to my SCA encampment board on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/factorial/sca-encampment-inspiration/ ) which I'd encourage you to take a look at.
A while ago I saw directions on Facebook for "lantern hack" where someone made a historical-looking housing based on the Mary Rose lamps for a modern LED light. I thought that was really clever, and decided to see if I could do one better by doing the same thing but making my lamp solar charged. With some inexpensive supplies from the craft store, a simple garden stake solar light, basic tools, and my functionally non-existent knowledge of woodworking, I was able to produce this:
DIY medieval solar lantern
I promise you that if I can make this, you can make this. Here's how.
First, supplies: you'll need two wooden discs, a thin dowel, and a piece of translucent paper (aka vellum), the latter of which can be found in the scrapbooking section. If you can find a yellowish tinged piece of vellum, it will work better. In the photo below, my sheet of vellum has already been cut; for this project I simply cut it in half lengthwise (I actually got enough stuff to make two lanterns). You also need a lamp to work with. I got this one, which is a solar "pathway light," from Target for one whole dollar. You actually only need the very top portion that has the actual workings of the lamp and is easily removed from the rest of it.
Supplies. Note my super clean work station. Someday I'll be like a real blogger and take awesome tutorial photos, too!
Next, mark out where you want to drill holes for the dowels on each of your discs. I made a 90° angle in the center of one and marked out from that to get four close-enough-to-equally-spaced spots, then measured in from the edge a centimeter (um, sometimes I forget myself and go into science nerd mode). Using a drill bit that matches the diameter of your dowel (mine was 3/16"), drill your holes. Use the drilled disc as a template to mark where you want to drill on the second disc, then drill it.
One disc drilled, the other marked.
Next cut your dowel into segments for the side pieces. I made my segments 5" long arbitrarily, it just seemed like a good height for the lantern. But if I had made them 4" instead I think I could have gotten all my segments for two lanterns out of a single dowel, so that's something to think about. You need four segments per lamp. To section small dowels like this, I put the dowel on my cutting mat, rest a knife (sharp side down!) on top of the dowel at the place I want to cut it, and just roll the dowel until the knife makes it all the way through.
Now it looks like this one is longer than 5 inches. That's possible. I'm sloppy.
At this point I decided I wanted a more natural look to the vellum so I decided to do a wash of paint over it to stain it. I used acrylic paint in yellow and brown (there is dried on red on my lid-as-palette in the picture, ignore that) and deliberately tried to get it streaky as the original idea was to make it look sort of like horn. I also realized partway through this that making the vellum have a yellow tint would counteract the blueish cast of the LED (because http://www.ontariosciencecentre.ca/ScienceNow/Games/MixingColours/">science), so even if I can't make my lantern have the nice yellow-orange cast of natural flame I can at least make it less glaringly, weirdly modern.
Painting in progress
The next step is tricky if you don't have the right tools. I didn't have the right tools but I made it work. You have to cut a hole in one of the discs (henceforth the top disc) that's big enough for the actual solar part of the light to be exposed. If you have an actual woodworking set up you'll be able to do this no problem. Me? I drilled a hole in the center of the disc, took my coping saw blade out, threaded the disc onto the blade, put the blade back in the saw, and then, somehow, against all odds, managed to saw out a hole. Not a nice hole, but a hole.
I did clean this up a bit with a pocket knife and some sand paper
Next you'll glue the lamp part to this disc. I just used wood glue because I already had it out, but I don't trust that this will actually hold the plastic lamp in place over the long term so I'll look in my various weird craft supply assortment for an alternative. I'm sure there are many wonderful options.
See the pencil circle? That's how big the lamp is. You need to make the hole smaller than that so you have space to glue.
At this point you ought to let the glue dry according to its instructions. After that it's time to put the whole thing together. The dowel segments go in the pre-drilled holes of both discs.
Then you glue the vellum, which should also be dry, to the dowels. I used a nice paper glue that I'm fond of, since I didn't really need this to hold in any sort of structural way. To start the gluing, I put a thin coat of glue around one of the dowels, gently folded the end of the paper around that and clipped it in place. I put a line of glue on each dowel, brought the vellum around, trimmed it to fit, and glued the end under my original fold (this was kind of tricky with the lamp part).
The lamp is upside down because I didn't wait for the glue to dry before starting this step.
Here's a shot of the solar part for good measure.
And here's another picture of the finished lamp:
I'm going to probably add something to the top to use to hang this, although I haven't decided what yet, and I'm also looking at making a slightly larger version. I'm also giving some thought to trying waxed linen instead of fake parchment on the larger lamp, but that's contingent on the weight of my linen and my ability to wax it to something approximating translucent.
By the way, the total materials cost for this project was under $2 -- the light was the most expensive part, and it was cheap.
I'd love to see these all over at events -- the style (wood with parchment) is perfectly historical across a wide range of times and places, so this is a great compromise between a truly authentic lantern and an undisguised modern light. If you make a lamp like this, and I think you should, please tell me about it.
Copyright 2013 by Laurel Black. <briwaf at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.