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I Made This Ninja High School Lamp

I make things. This is a practice that I have maintained over the past few years. I like the idea of being a maker--a person who learns new skills by creating objects. In the past, I have made a deacon's bench for my children, a bookcase, a small cabinet with drawers and doors that replaced an old end table, and a hanging My Little Pony cupboard. Each project concept intentionally required that I learn new skills. As a result, I've become a reasonably good carpenter.

(Asrial, Ichi, and Jeremy from Ninja High School by Ben Dunn)

In the past 2 years, I have also deliberately embraced and nourished my own geeky interests, recovering so many of the joys of my lost youth. Among them is collecting and reading the entire run of my favorite comic book franchise, Ninja High School.

This project was my most daunting yet. Since each one of my projects must be functional in some way, I decided to build a lamp. This required that I learn electrical wiring, which I found confusing and non-intuitive. Thankfully, my father, who is brilliant in all things technical, very patiently taught me the rudiments of electrical wiring.

To express my geeky interests and, specifically, love for Ninja High School, I decided to build a lamp that incorporated images from it. I taught myself how to etch glass. This introductory video started me on the craft. I purchased many cheap glasses from a thrift store and practiced on them. Now the vast majority of glasses in my kitchen cabinets have Ninja High School characters on them.

The first part was the simplest: building a wooden frame. The overall dimensions are 17x5x4 inches made with 3/4 inch aspen panel. The back is open for easy access to the electrical components. The floor of the lamp is a 1/4 inch thick sheet of birch plywood that fits inside grooves that I cut into the other panels using a router. Each lamp projects from a circle of panel cut to fit and hold a glass cylinder. The entire structure is held together with 9 size 20 wood biscuits. It's stained with a pecan-colored combination stain and polyurethane.

There's a 4-position rotary switch on one side . . . 

. . . and a power/dimmer switch on the other side. Because a lamp that merely turns on and off wouldn't be enough! If I'm going to learn electrical wiring, then I have to make the project requirements complex.

(Video Link)

Unfortunately, there is a fault somewhere in the system. The right-most lamp won't turn on. I have a voltmeter and could try to diagnose the problem. But I really want this project to be done. I spent most of January finding and fixing a similar problem. So I shall deal with this issue . . . later.

It's hard to see the etched glass cylinders well on the lamp. Switching to frosted light bulbs might help there. Here are photos of each one with green construction paper inside. This one is Ichi-kun Ichinohei, a character often addressed as "Itchy-koo." She's a Japanese ninja. I used this drawing by Ben Dunn as source material.

This is Asrial, an alien princess. Her species is Salusian, which are humanoids related to skunks. I used this somewhat risqué drawing of her as source material.

This is Mimi Masters, a witch who lives in the small Midwestern town of Quagmire with the other characters in Ninja High School. I used an image in issue #76 for her face.

The glass cylinders are jars that I purchased at a craft store. I drilled a hole in the top of each jar to alleviate heat buildup. By the way: drilling through glass is hard. Very hard.

I should continue to build experience and competence working with electrical and electronic components. So I am considering that my next project will be to build a acrylic sheet edge lamp using LEDs, such as this one by Instructables member Kale_3d.

I will, of course, indulge in some sort of geeky interest at the same time. Perhaps the image engraved into the acrylic will be the face of Yuki Hase (right), a character from One Week Friends, one of my favorite anime series.

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It is nice to see hobbies produce something both useful and aesthetic. So far, my limited experiences with woodworking have found it only useful for producing more woodworking tools and wood shavings.
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Speaking of diy casting above, styrofoam makes for a great modern equivalent of lost wax casting. Although that is also a messy hobby, and potentially frustrating if the casting goes wrong since you would have to make the styrofoam again.
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DIY aluminum and brass casting is something popping up from time to time, and an option to consider if you want to learn new skills or play with molten metal. The equipment needed can be had for potentially less than $100 depending on what you have around, and assembled over a weekend or two. That said, working with brass is harder than aluminum, and would take some patience to get something that looks on par with random brass hardware you could get at the store or from a real foundry. So like most hobbies, it can be a time sink compared to paying someone to do it for you. Also, I've heard second hand that there are online places that will 3D print and do the lost "wax" casting for you at reasonably rates.

(Disclaimer, I hadlooked into metal casting a lot, but have not done it myself yet, having moved from a house to an apartment before getting around to trying it out.)
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