Experiments with light


The jobs that time forgot #2

Long Gallery

Spot the differences
Aha! I can see the end wall now

(The lighting strip used above appears at the very end of the piece)

I do like playing with light. It is part of the structure of the scene and its setting and therefore is as important to me as the furniture. There are two main types of lighting in the scenes I make.  One to flavour and dress the period and the 12th-scale-world use of the space, and one to add mood and illuminate said period and space.

From the beginning of learning about miniaturing, all the little lighting bulbs and associated fixtures worried me:

  • my fingers aren’t nibble enough
  • so many small bulbs, shades etc needing attention
  • very little light offered by them overall.

I wanted scene lighting to punctuate some areas with more light and contrast which is why I became attracted to the LED strips, and I’ve used LED strips from very early on in my lighting of the model, the being first in the Great Hall area. That section is so deep and shadowed under the balcony that it has at least three strips in it, angled and masked or pointing straight down.

theinfill dolls house blog - the infill - Medieval, Tudor, Jacobean 1:12 dolls house - Great Hall lighting below the balcony

For example:  the young man amongst roses was in heavy shadow skulking below the balcony and the candle above him did very little, so have added a 3 cell LED strip, angled down a little, behind one of the support beams.

For a period of time I only used the ready-made strips bought from Micro Miniatures. At that time they seemed to offer the longest wiring.  They also sell rolls of LEDs that you can cut to length and solder, but my soldering is about as good as my wood cutting, and equally does not seem to get better with practice, so I’ve stuck with the ready prepped strips ever since, (and very good they are too), but also slowly added a little variety. Instead of the three cell ones used at first, I’ve also bought strips of multi heads and single LED bulbs from other suppliers. The singles I’ve used under the machinery in the Steampunk-ish, word churning machine project and the multi cell in the house model.

Light strips I have known and loved

And what I did to them

The big thing about using LEDs is that it does matter which is the live and which the return.  So all blocks/sockets/plugs etc need a bit of marker pen on them to match up your wiring.  I usually use a Sharpie pen and just put an L where I can, often on a bit of a sticky label.

(click on an image to access the gallery and read the longer captions if you scroll down a little, as well as getting to the link – just down to the right of gallery – for larger image)

The only way the observer can see the oddly placed unit in James’ office is if they were to lie down on the floor, which is what I did to get the photo.

Back to the little light experiment

(The first three photos at the top of the piece)

Today’s experiment in the Long Gallery is with a new LED light strip design, at least it’s new to me and might just save me from all the faffing around I tend to do, trying to shield and angle lighting quite as often.

 As you can see they are set in the side of the strip, giving a totally different lighting effect. These lovely novelties come from the Top LED Shop who have a wide range of different possibilities.  Like all the lighting suppliers, I’m finding it a bit like being let loose in a sweet shop and may pick a different ‘flavour’/shape next time.  I’ll let you know how I get on using these particular ones elsewhere.  I can see them being useful around doorways as well as windows and at skirting level too.

The wiring question

These new ones also have the very thick, stiff wiring that all the suppliers I’ve tried so far seem to be using now.  The wiring is not very long at all and I do find extending them a bit of a pain, probably because I can never get these wires to stay in the connection blocks any better than the thinner ones they used to have.  Also the connectors come rarely in a convenient place in the geography of the building and so, for me, limit the choice of position.

I’m extending the wiring using ordinary medium grade doll’s house wire, splitting out the two sections, and wrapping the join with sheathing on top to get around this problem.  I use red coloured sheathing on the live join and red marker pen at the other end of the same wire (or a smaller piece of coloured sheathing) so the extension cable can be easily matched up to the live and return.

It still gives a bulky join but it seems more stable and does make it easier to play around with the positioning of the lights while leaving me with a wider choice of position for the lighting.



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