After making my own Japanese-style mylar light box, I thought it would be neat to have a small portable version of it, something small enough to be worn as a keychain. How cool would it be to have a tool always at hand that can create pixellation effects and beautiful caustics? So I set out to make my own light box keychain.
The first step was coming up with a design for a small box that I could cut in acrylic on the laser cutter. This is what I came up with:
This allows me to bond together the four sides of the box while keeping the straight, and has two holes for a string to go through.
Then, I had the tedious task of making lots of tiny cilinders of mylar and filling the box with them, making sure that they each were trimmed to fit just under the top of the box.
The first version I made did not work very well. I soon discovered that I had made the box too shallow, and it was too easy for the light to pass straight through the cilinders without having to bounce around and create the wonderful caustics that give it its delightful effect. So I realized that there is a
n ideal minimum relationship between the cylinders' diameter and their length that creates a nice effect. For my next try, I doubled the height of the box, and I like the results much better. Here are some photos from a sprawling light box exploration on the museum floor.