Light Box - a great tool for exploring the museum


Last Friday, we all got excited about a contraption called "Hikari no Hako" (means light box in Japanese). It is a craft kit released in Japan by artist Taizo Matsumura a few years ago. Since it's not available for oversea customers yet, I made one myself.

"Hikari no Hako" is composed of basic materials: a card board, mylar, tracing paper, and plexiglass. You make a box filled up with a lot of rolled mylar, then cover the top with tracing paper and the back with a transparent cover. Here is the one I made.

Mylar Light BoxMylar Light Box
It is very simple, but when you hold it against light, you will see the interesting effect of light traveling through the box!

Here is the video of our exploration that Ryan took and edited.

My big motivation to make this box was that I was very curious how it would look if I tried it over Aurora, an Exploratorium exhibit with light and various color tiles. But, as you can see in the video, we tried it at many different exhibits such as Light Island, Sun Painting, Lumen Illusion, Colored Shadow. By changing the angle of the box or just simply moving it over various light sources, the box shows you many different patterns of the reflected light through the mylar.

We really liked this light box because ...
- It has a simple design
- Complex light patterns produced by the box are fun to watch!
- It opens up possibilities for exploration with many different light sources.
- The box can be both a piece of art and an exploration tool.

This light box is available as a kit at several museum stores in Japan. In our version of the box, we used plexiglass to cover the back of the box (the original kit comes with colored films that are used for covering the box). Since the Exploratorium is a great source of different types of colors and lights, I thought exploring the floor with the box would be a fun activity. And it was!

After returning from our exploration on Friday afternoon, Ryan, Jessica, and Eric started making their own light boxes. I am sure they had a nice weekend sharing the box with their families and friends!

We posted the instruction how to make it on Make Magazine's Projects' website.

I'm so happy to see this post! It looks gorgeous on Aurora and Sun Painting. Glad to see it posted it on Make's new project site too.

They are fantastic, Ryoko! I came back last night to make one after I saw it on the blog :)

Hi Karen, Sebastian, and Ashley,
Thank you! I'm so happy to hear the nice comments from you (and also from people in the museum today)!
It's exciting to think about further development from here!

WOW!!! THAT IS FANTASTIC!!! You did an excellent job!!! I am looks so gorgeous!!

Wow. the light box was so beautiful.

This is pretty awesome! I will build one for my 2 and 4 year old kids. Always looking for innovative ways to entertain them...thanks for sharing!

Hi Roxana, that is great! If you feel like documenting how they turn out and how they are being used, we'd love to see what you do with them! Feel free to send us photos or text...

Wow! a marvellous creation. I made it myself and was stunned to see how it reflected light.

hi! i love it, but... how did you do the box?
Please!!!! i love it is amazing

I mean.. what materials did you use???

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