A Lithophane is a peice of translucent material into which is carved a 3d image. The deeper the carving (or machining), the thinner the material and more light gets through.


The same lithophane with no light passing through.

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With careful selection, the images used can look good when not lit as well, lighter background and darker main features let it ‘pop’ out in 3d.


In this case they are in wooden frames, backlit by a panel of 360leds each.

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This powered lightbox style brings out the detail just as much as sunlight, but in a slightly warmer tone.


The lithophanes were machined on my CNC mill, using a 0.5mm stepover and 2mm diameter ball end mill, running at 600mm/minute it takes a while. The material is soft enough, and cuts cool enough that almost no supervision is required.

Casting with Water Beads, Aluminium Coral


Saw this done on the TheBackyardScientist’s youtube channel and gave it a go myself. Not having to worry about filming, I just just put the water beads in a plastic trash can (with a bit of aluminium plate at the bottom to stop it melting through).

Step one is get a little furnace going.


I made one from a steel bucket and a mixture of cement/sand/lime, with refractory cement applied around the inside.


Unfortunately I didn’t leave enough space for a self drawing burner, so I just stuck a hair dryer on it and force feed propane that way.


It doesn’t take too long to melt, once it gets warmed up. I have a 500ml and a 1500ml crucible, just simple steel ones since the furnace will not get hot enough to melt these.

Step two is set up the water beads (actually step one since they take a few days to swell from a 2mm ball to a 25mm one).


I found it worked a lot better when the water was drained out as it slowed the passage of the aluminium. However, this required the setup be hosed down straight after the pour so the beads don’t cook and smoke.


Reasonably quick pour seemed to work the best for longer pieces, while a slow pour made them more shallow.




Cleaning them couild be trick, might see how they weather for a bit. Possibly try and acid wash or beadblast.

Tawa Technologies gets WordPress!

After having an OpenCart webstore for a number of years, I’ve finally got around to putting up some webby stuff to show off some of the projects I’ve done, just for fun. Although I still expect to use this part of the site to show some clearance sales, or promoting some commercial projects.

It might take some time to get the major projects up, which will be put up as pages, rather than posts. Things like my electric bike, my cnc mill, my cylonbros areĀ all here!