In an effort to practice some smaller lantern making, make some that are more portable, and practice the nebuta painting techniques I made three small lanterns for a Denver art show at the Cabal Gallery, Meet Me at the Corner of Art & Science. I started on Monday at about 5pm and worked through several late nights to get them done by 5pm on Friday for the show.
I tested out some new lights, which were already pre-wired so that made one step much faster and I also experimented with a few different microcontrollers from the Micro:bit to Raspberry Pi's. I was hoping to make them battery powered but ran into issues with either the Pi's or the lights needing too much power or the Micro:bit not being able to run the lights and use bluetooth at the same time. I ended up settling for using power cords and Raspberry Pi's but will keep trying out the Micro:bit for different projects as it uses so much less power.
Traditionally nebuta lantern making is started with black outlines, followed by wax (to allow more light through those parts) to create highlights, and finally colored paint is added to the lanterns. Here are some photos of my sister, Myra Rasmussen, working on a float for the nebuta lantern in Amori, Japan. You can see some of this process in these photos, which are courtesy of my sister (she is in the third image).
I found this process hard to begin from the white lanterns, adding the stark black india ink very frightening, but this was great practice for starting to paint the the big tree lantern. The wax also was a bit more challenging then I anticipated, as it ran and dripped in ways I did not expect. However, once the color was on and the lights turned on I found the small drips and things were hardly visible. Additionally, being my first time painting these, I used pretty heavy coloring, which made the use of the colored lights inside less visible. I'll have to consider this when painting the large lantern.
On that note, I plan (hope?) to have the big lantern completed by the ATLAS Expo this upcoming Wednesday! I was really nervous about painting the tree lantern, so making these small lanterns helped to prepare and calm me (a bit!). I actually have started the painting process; pictures and time lapse coming soon!