Your Guide

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Helen Hiebert

Helen Hiebert is the author of five how-to books about paper: Playing With Pop-Ups, Playing With Paper, Papermaking with Plants, The Papermaker's Companion, and Paper Illuminated. Helen has appeared on Sesame Street, has produced two films, and writes a weekly blog about all things paper. She teaches, lectures and exhibits her work internationally and runs a studio near Vail, Colorado. Helen's e-mail address is

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About this course

Shadow Lantern

In the 1640’s, a German priest living in Rome developed the magic lantern, which cast shadows from glass slides onto a screen, a precursor to modern cinema. This shadow lantern works on the same principle. A light source inside casts the shadow from a stencil onto a paper screen. And it’s reversible!

In this course you will learn:

  • How to create a simple balsa wood structure
  • How to work with shadows
  • How to make a Japanese hinge that flexes in both directions
  • Skill building for working in multiples and with panels

You will need the following tools & materials:

  • 1/4” x 1/4” balsa wood (approx. (4) 36" sticks)
  • Sandpaper
  • card stock
  • translucent paper 
  • Scrap paper
  • X-acto knife 
  • Cutting mat
  • Glue 
  • Glue brush
  • Ruler
  • Sharp pencil
  • Saw and miter box (optional)