Pic of my homemade light box for tracing applique

laurainsdcaJuly 30, 2007

When I did the crayon kitty swap that Red hosted, as I was holding pictures up to the window to trace, I thought -- I need one of those light boxes! But when I looked at prices, it seems they were around $50. I've seen them cheaper since then, but still too much.

I had a piece of plexi glass I got for a couple bucks from the scrap bin at the plexiglass store. I got a shallow tub at a "dollar store" type place for just a couple bucks, and a plug in fluorescent light from Walmart for about $4 ior $5. (They had some that use batteries and don't need cords too, but I went for the cord.)

I took some sharp scissors and bored a hold in the side of the plastic for the cord to go through. I put the light inside, set my plexiglass on top -- and voila! A light box. I used it the other day and it worked fine. I may duct tape the plexiglass to the tub along one side to form a "hinge" of sorts. Also, I noticed the ones you buy have a whitish top, which probably diffuses the light. Mine seemed fine, but if it needs that I can put something like paper or an opaque plastic film over the top to tone the light down.

It may not be the best looking light box out there -- but it sure was inexpensive.

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janice__indiana5

Great idea Laura! This is MUCH BETTER than what I used. I used the large part of a 2 piece angel food cake pan, a clear lucite cutting board, and my husbands trouble light. I can see I need to visit the dollor store! Thanks fot the
great idea!
Janice

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:31AM
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Rene54

wonderful idea, you are brillant! lol thanks for showing how, Rene GREAT TIP!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 8:58AM
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csackett

that's a great idea. Some ladies in my quilt group have them made out of 2 X 4's. They are nice, but very heavy. Your idea is perfect. One question. Does the light get too hot for the plastic container. If so, setting it on sm. children's wooden blocks would stop that. More ideas - keep them coming!

Carolyn

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 9:28AM
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laurainsdca

Janice, I don't know -- yours sounds pretty clever too! I had the most trouble finding a shallow tub because I realized a taller tub would be too high once I set it on the table.

Carolyn -- I didn't use it that long but I think because it's flourescent it shouldn't get too hot. (Or maybe flourescent lights just LOOK cool, LOL.) Good idea on the blocks, I will check it out and keep that in mind for it.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:24PM
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maryliz

If you have an old flat bed scanner, you can convert it into a light box. Simply disconnect it from any other computer devices but leave the power cord, remove the top flap, and just turn it on. The light should go on, and then you can lay down your papers, tape them to the glass if necessary, and trace.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:30PM
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redpenny

MarLiz,
I did the same thing!
Red

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 12:43PM
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vasu_texas

Laura,
Very clever. I will try it next time. I used transfer paper for a complicated Celtic pattern which turned out OK but was a pain to align the transfer paper, the pattern and the fabric. I have used the window for small projects but I like your idea better. I should get some plexi glass from the hardware store. Thanks for sharing.
Vasu

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 2:37PM
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easystitches

Great idea!
Here's something that was new for me.
I have been doing applique for quite a while but I learned this at a class last week & I couldn't believe I had never done this.
She had us pin our pattern to our fabric 1st before putting it on the light source. I have always used a window & taped the pattern up 1st & then the fabric on top & then marked which allows the fabric to move around & cause all sorts of trouble.
I guess this is why there are classes, you learn the simpiest things that make life so much easier! Jill

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 4:58PM
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scraphappy

I may just use your idea! I also keep looking at the expensive ones in the catalogs, and just can't justify spending that much for something I might just use once in a while - I've also taped images to copy up on the patio doors - not fun! Quilters are an ingenious bunch!!
I also like the scanner idea - I'll have to keep my eyes out for one at the thrift stores.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 5:23PM
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kathi_mdgd

Good idea Laura!!

Another take on it that i saw Carol Duvall do years ago was just a plain cardboard box,put a hole in it for a cord,then just use one of those night lights we all seem to have around the house,and oh yes the plexi glass,scrap of course.Also these days those "Tap it Lights" would work also.
Kathi

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 9:22PM
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cygram

Great idea. I'm going to try to make myself one! Thanks for sharing this with us.
Yvonne

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 10:48PM
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clarion5

Finally, now I can make my own light box!!! Thanks so much!
I was also thinking if the box was a darker color, it would reflect the light better. Either way, it is fast, cheap and fun! I love it. Also, love, love, love the scanner idea. Wouldn't you know I threw mine out when it quit working. Wish I knew then what I know now! LOL. weaz

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 10:57PM
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biwako_of_abi

I generally avoid applique, but there have been times when I've wished I had a light box. This is such a great idea! I appreciate the tap light suggestion, too. That certainly wouldn't get too hot, and there would be no need for hole-cutting. The scanner idea is also great. I'm kicking myself, too, for throwing out an old one, Clarion!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2007 at 11:32PM
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Islay_Corbel

Great ideas here. I always get a stiff neck using the window! LOL

    Bookmark   July 31, 2007 at 2:26AM
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