Learn how an artist's makes light sculptures from wood and paper.
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William Leslie’s wood and paper light sculptures are not only elegant and functional, but they encompass his philosophy on life. Allowing the process to lead him as much as he leads it, Leslie creates free-flowing unconventional structures that can hang down from the ceiling or off of a wall.
He begins by visualizing the size and shape in his mind’s eye, but he refuses to sketch anything out. He prefers to allow the wood to tell him where it wants to go, so he starts by selecting 12-foot-long strips of a flexible wood called luan. Then he begins bending the pieces and connecting them to each other with an electric glue gun.
Once that basic understructure is to his liking, he coats all the wooden strips with a laminate for added stability. Depending on the complexity of the structure, this is the stage at which he does the wiring. He uses 60-watt bulbs inside his light sculptures, and if they require more light, he adds more sockets rather than upping the bulb wattage (which could lead to a potential fire hazard).
Once the structure is wired and the laminate is dry, it’s time to tear strips of fine-grade tissue paper and begin the papier-mache process. He applies a base layer of tissue paper by brushing each strip with watered-down glue, not unlike wallpapering. However, for the overall durability of the sculpture, he needs to do three or four full layers of papier-mache, allowing each layer to dry completely before he can add the next.