Sunday, June 22, 2014

Something You Don't See Everyday

Today was the first day of a two part workshop on something brand new to the Belmar Arts Council, making traditional Japanese lanterns.  Local artist and educator Brian Elstein apprenticed to the award winning Yachi Nakka Nebuta float building team during his years living and working in Japan.  For the Nebuta festival, groups build giant illuminated sculptures, but today Brian shared those techniques on a smaller scale suitable for any indoor location.

Early on he showed some slides and videos of the process, then he quickly started leading the participants through the process.

The first step involved building a frame, using hoops of heavy gauge wire.  The circles (plus a few extending pieces that will eventually support the tail in the design) were assembled to create a stable three dimensional structure, a lightweight frame that will support everything attached inside and out.

The next step was a new frontier for BelmarArts.  In a poll taken among long time BAC members present in the Boatworks today, it was believed that this is the first time there has ever been a workshop that required participants to learn some basic electrical wiring skills.  Brian demonstrated how to take a length of standard lamp cord, and to insert an on/off switch within, and to add light bulb receptacles and  plugs to the ends.

The assembled electrical unit was then mounted to more framing wire and attached to the rest of the lantern frame.

Below, an example of where the process ended today, with a small electric bulb mounted in the center of the frame.

In part 2 of this workshop next week, Brian will show everyone how to complete a lantern exterior, using authentic and traditional Japanese paper and ink, as in the example at the top of this post.  We hope to have photos to post here of the completed lanterns.

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