Brian Wesley Rich's
Science Website
The Lumia Box
What is a Lumia Box?
A lumia box is also known as a "camera obscura". The words camera obscura mean "dark room" in Latin. Some camera obscuras are really the size of a room; you actually get inside, and look at images on the wall coming from either a hole or a lens on the opposite side of the room.
I call this project a lumia box because the purpose is not simply to look at images of the world, but to create unusual images of pure light. "Lumia" historically are kinetic-art sculptures that create patterns of moving, vibrant color. This simple box makes that possible.
Make a Lumia Box

A cardboard box and some tissue paper make up the lumia box. A box that is fairly short and wide is best. The ideal dimensions are 9 by 9 by 4 inches, but you can vary these according to what you have available. The kind of box that has a slip-on lid is preferred, but this, too is only an ideal. Basically, you want one end of the box to have a cutout in it over which you will place apertures, and the other end you will fit with a tissue paper screen. You will also need:

  • Several pieces of aluminum foil that you can cut apertures (holes) of various shapes into;
  • A box cutter knife;
  • An X-acto knife or scissors;
  • Black construction paper or aluminum foil;
  • Masking tape.

Assembly of the lumia box is easy. Remove the flaps if you are using the kind of box that closes with flaps. Close the flaps on the other end of the box and seal with tape. Cut an opening about two inches square into the center of the closed end of the box.

Now you have a box that is completely open at one end, and has a two-inch square aperture at the other end. Tape the tissue paper over the open end of the box. Now your lumia box is ready to accept apertures.
The completed Lumia Box, being used with Christmas Tree Lights. A View of the image using a star-shaped aperture.

Using a sharp knife, such as an X-acto knife, cut patterns into pieces of foil. Try to keep the features small. If this is beyond your skill, try using thin black construction paper for your apertures. Then you can use scissors to cut openings into them. Some suggested shapes are shown below.

Install one of the apertures onto the lumia box. Hold the box with the screen toward you and point it at a point light source. You should see the aperture projected onto the screen. If you have access to a string of Christmas tree lights, or a tree that is decorated with these lights, try looking at the lights with your lumia box. Bring the box right up to the lights for the best 3-D effect.

Lumia Box Photography

Check out the lumia photography by clicking here.

Copyright © 2000-2019 Brian W. Rich
Last Updated: 09 November, 2019
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