Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I've been trying to work out a way to translate some of the things I've learned from making lights into a "home craft"; you know, a set of instructions, a "how to" make something amazing with led lights.
The resin casting techniques aren't something that many people will (or should) take up in a home environment. Not if you want to keep your clothes, carpets and work surfaces looking perfect.
So, if we can't cast our forms, we're going to have to construct them.
 One thing I have played around with a lot is the "infinity mirror" concept, where light sources are placed between a mirror (back) and a two way mirror (front). The reflections become "serial", so if the light sources are arranged around the edge, it creates a tunnel effect.
Two / one way mirror is expensive, so I have used acetate sheet laminated with mirror film, to try out the effect in various projects. It's great for cutting and folding geometric forms and it could be substituted with mirror card, if necessary.
What about the lights? Of course, we could do a tutorial about how to arrange and solder an led array but that would be pointless. That information is already widely available and let's face it, "soldering iron" on the equipment list would be a bit off putting.
LED fairy lights are one answer, as far as a light source is concerned. There are also the battery operated, LED "tea lights" that we can use as a safe, stand alone light source.
The tutorials I have planned are for fabulous kaleidoscope shades that you can add to the above that will actually increase the amount of light you get from your leds.

One thing I'm worried about (believe me, there are loads) is that currently, I'm using industrial strength superglue to fix them together. I tell you, it's all fun & games 'till someone gets stuck to the table.
I've had some terrible incidents with superglue, not least, spilling a large amount on a wool jumper. I'm not noted for my sartorial elegance but I started to gently smoke. Wool apparently accelerates the exothermic reaction if applied in large enough amounts. Spontaneous combustion is not a good look.
John had an even more extreme incident.( It all goes wrong when the top blocks and you have to pull the "dropper" bit out of the main bottle. If you use it, be thorough about cleaning the top of the dropper before you put the lid back on). John managed to glue his jumper to his belt and jeans, his jeans to his boot, his bootlace to his boot & himself to the superglue bottle. By the way, carpets smoke if you spill large amounts of superglue on them, too.
His take on the incident is "And they say men can't multitask".
I'm guessing that I will be able to make a "light" version, forgive the pun, with mirror card & double sided tape, for people who prefer to keep their fingers separate. I've got the mirror card on order, so as soon as I can, I'll try it out & take the tutorial photos using that.
Here's a couple of photos to give you an idea of the first project I'm planning - hexagon shaped reflectors. They're pretty versatile - you could fit them together to make a panel or even a ball and I'm going to work out how to do that just as soon as I can find the time.

Just a quick reference to the post about awards, below. We spent some time thinking about it and frankly, we are too small a business to launch something like this at the moment. It would be crossing the fine line between "thinking big & being ambitious" and "biting off more than you can chew". Perhaps we will get some help offered with this sometime in the future; it would need publicity and proper management to be worthwhile and meaningful.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Read All About It - Names In Lights!

I'm making a quick happy Sunday blog post - we have a photo in the "Get This" feature of the Sunday Express magazine. Credit for this has to go entirely to Tracey ( @wowthankyou ) for all of her hard work helping British hand makers promote their work on   wowthankyou
Here's a quick snapshot

Monday, 15 October 2012

Keep calm and what?

I've been playing with using our lit letters to make a font, as it's quite useful not to have to make entire words just for images I want.
"Keep Calm & Carry On" is a bit of a defeatist message. Grit your teeth and hang on for dear life. Get your head down & hope nobody notices you.
Here's my alternative.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

HUGE Image Gallery

I've been reviewing the Names In Lights website, looking for where to make changes and improvements, starting with images and working my way through the "about" pages.
It's difficult to know where to begin and end with giving information; how technical should you get?
I suppose the key thing is that you have answered all of the potential questions. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked " do you get the stand with the letters?" and someone else "are there any wires showing?", so I'm feeling an information gap.
The first way I'm tackling this is a more detailed "about the lights" page, with a better explanation of how they're made and what sort of lifespan to expect from them.
We're also re-writing the "About Us" page, because someone else wrote it, and it's not, us.
Image wise, the images displayed in the slideshows on the product / order pages are only 700px wide, so I'm working on putting the full, hi-res catalogue out there for all to see, starting with "cutout" images (background removed).
They're HUGE - over 4000px wide, some of them, so they will be really larger than life!

I'm also going to do something I really don't want to do and that is, I'm going to open the spamgates and put direct "mailto" links on the site. If nothing else, I will win a load of lotteries I never entered, have bank accounts locked that I don't own & meet lots of Nigerian princes.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Fantastic Product Review

We have had another wonderful review, which focuses on the sensory properties of our lights, for the light sculpture in the photograph below.

You can read the blog post HERE and many thanks to @Clairelouise and Little Man for inspiring us to develop a way of putting extra personalisation on the front of our lights.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Feeling really pleased today, as we have had several great reviews.  One is for this three character light, given as a housewarming gift.

I'm happy to say, it went down really well; you can read the full review HERE

On the subject of reviews, we have some lovely ones at HERE  at RatedNames.co.uk, too.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Much Larger Board Of Many Ping Pong Balls

Some folk have more patience than is average.

If I gave you 512 ping pong balls would you think “I could drill 5 millimetre holes in those and illuminate them”?

Once you have got all 512 balls lit you need a means of controlling them as a dot matrix and the microcontrollers coding to make things move in a pretty way. Oh, and you would need to make the printed circuit boards too as such things aren’t readily available and a host of other things we won’t go into here such as the wiring.
Luckily some folk are made of sterner stuff than I. I give you The Much Larger Board Of Many Ping Pong Balls

The thing that stands out for me is when you read his blog post about the making of this, he is 15 years old. When I was 15 I couldn’t have spelled microcontroller never mind programmed one, I still can’t as it happens.

If you feel adventurous he even sells kits http://www.dashroom66.com/catalog

Posted by John

Monday, 1 October 2012

The monthly draw has moved to Competwition.

We are up and running with our brand new competition on the excellent platform Competwition.com , you can find ours right HERE . The prize is an oval light of up to six letters
I did an ad poster for this month (I usually make some sort of image or video to go with the Tweet) but as it's surplus to requirements, I'm going to post it here.
October competition.
So far, Competwition.com is proving to be a great, hassle-free way of running the draw. It's a nice, easy to use platform and I would highly recommend it to anyone running a competition on Twitter.
It's frr, too!