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Guy Marsden
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Piper Foreso
Solar lighting for a glass/steel outdoor artwork
March 2011

before and after images
Piper asked me if I could add solar powered lighting to her glass and steel artwork that is designed to be mounted to a wall or posts outside.  This piece is about 14" in diameter and was made from a rusting farm implement and fused dichroic glass that has been layered on the back and sandblasted to catch the light.

Rather than trying to engineer a solar power system with battery and lights from scratch I realized quite early that the simplest way to accomplish this project was by re-purposing an existing solar LED yard lighting kit like the one shown at left that is available from most hardware stores.  This allows the solar panel (with battery inside the back) to be placed several feet from the artwork.

I removed the small circuit boards from the plastic light housings.  Each one holds 3 high brightness LED lamps and had 2 mounting holes in them.  I bolted the boards to the artwork with stainless steel screws, and later coated the exposed metal parts of the circuit with liquid electrical tape to protect them from the elements.

rear view of the artwork and solar module
I gave Piper clear instructions on how to reproduce this for future pieces.  This was one of the simple projects I have undertaken and a real pleasure to work on, since I got to live with the piece for a few weeks where I tested it on the outside wall of my workshop. Piper was quite pleased with the result:
"Thanks so much for your work on lighting my steel and glass sculptures. I had spent a considerable amount of time, energy, and money working on this project two years ago and, having no success, set it aside for future exploration. Fast forward two years and, with just a couple of conversations and for a very reasonable price, you made them look exactly like what I had in mind - within a week! I especially appreciate that you were easy to talk to (even though I know nothing about electronics) and that you listened carefully to what I wanted."

Visit Piper's web site:
Piper Glass and Steel

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