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Here’s a very nice project by South African artist Andreè van Zyl, developed as part of her final Masters exhibition at the Arts University, Bournemouth, here in the UK. 

Andreè approached us for advice in the early stages of her project and we were very glad to be able to advise her on the selection of an appropriate fibre. We have more than 20 different fibre types available to buy online, plus a couple of special products which we don’t actually advertise, so it can be a bit overwhelming for the beginner!

In the end the fibre chosen was our bare cracked 0.75mm fibre – what we call sparkle fibre. It’s widely used in chandeliers and sensory kits, although more commonly supplied with a clear protective pvc sheathing. However, by opting to use unsheathed fibre, Andreè was able to achieve this more delicate, insubstantial effect.

Andreè’s project, entitled “Refraksie”, was an installation artwork filling a room of 5.6m (width) x 3.1m (width) x 2.4m (height). 

Andreè explains:”The viewer had access to the work from one end of the room, but the work continued above and behind them. This project explored the boundaries of space through the use of light. Echoing architectural structures, but without defining any clear reference to buildings, the viewer was invited to explore their own imagination to read the work.

“I used 12 LED lights for the whole project. I planned my lines so that none of the wires would be more than 5 metres. Then I glued 4 – 5 fibres to a LED. I used a hot glue gun. If you let it cool down a bit, it’s easy enough to use without destroying the light. The fibre must be in perfect contact with the light though. It was a gamble, but it worked. If I have to do it over again, I would buy a proper light source – it was very time consuming.

“It’s so exciting to create work with light and people seem to really respond to it. I had people sitting on the floor of my space for 30 minutes. It was fantastic.”

Search for Andreè’s portfolio here: https://www.behance.net

The effects produced by sideglow fibres depend very largelyon the ambient light levels, but where you access to and control of a space like this it’s possible to achieve very exciting effects, as Andreè’s project so clearly demonstrates.

Sparkle fibre has nicks in its reflective cladding which allow bright light to escape, so you get the general sideglow effect along the length of the fibre punctuated by the much brighter pinpricks. This lends itself very well to animation through the use of twinkle and colour wheels, although the lighting in this project was far more rudimentary.
There’s some blue here, which suggests that Andreè has at least one blue LED in the mix. You’d normally daisy chain the fibre between two light sources to maximise the illumination, and if one end of the fibre is lit by a coloured LED and the other by a white LED, you’ll get interesting transition effects as the two colours compete for dominance towards the middle of the run.