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Solstice Wall – First Look at the Rays on the Wall

January 10, 2024

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

This article was published as an issue of my newsletter Ready for Rain

A quick review…

We started the project when we noticed the shadow being cast on the wall of our living room. Over each evening in the summer, it moved up the wall.

solstive wall shadow line

On the summer solstice of 2021, we marked the shadow’s location in 15-minute increments using thumbtacks.

solstice wall 15 minute increments

These lines created coordinates for the shadow’s location over a single evening: the summer solstice.

solstice wall lines

With these lines documented, we could think about using them to create an art installation on the wall. This set off months of debate and experiments about design, materials, etc. We decided that the lines, or “rays” needed to be three-dimensional and held off the wall. This made the project more complicated but could create a unique look. I built multiple proof-of-concept models.

We decided to mount the installation on plywood panels and create the installation on the floor of our garage.

These panels on the floor became our canvas and I got to work documenting the shadow lines with chalk and tape.

Over time, these lines represented the final design in two dimensions. Just recently, the lines were used as guides producing the rays in the form of strips of Baltic birch plywood.

I recently planned, documented, labeled, and cut each ray to a rough length and placed them on the panels. It was the first I experienced an early version of the three-dimensional final product.

A lot of work remains, but it’s so exciting to see the vision of the project come to life.

Here’s a short time lapse video of the process:

I’m sharing this process on social media. Follow along!

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