Creative Lighting by Steve Juranics

by Michael Groves

When lighting a building, I, Michael Groves, generally just stick a fiber into the building, maybe supported by a hollow plastic stirring straw (thank you all you coffee shops), and that’s it.  However, that’s because most of my buildings on my layout are what I would call rather vanilla.  However, when you work on buildings that have a lot of character, lighting can take on a more creative, sophisticated approach.  In this paper I want to reveal the lighting work that one of our customers, Steve Juranics, did.

Steve had already beautifully weathered an already excellent looking building from ITLA Scale Models (  By the way, Steve’s youtube channel, which goes under the name Muskoka Steve, has a number of excellent tips on how to weather buildings such as this one.  

Not wanting to leave it there, Steve decided to make certain features pop out, and for that he used fiber optic lighting.  Indeed, Steve was interested in producing a number of effects which would allow his ingenuity to really shine.  Some of these included providing over door lights, subtle lighting of the various windows in the building, and a lit sign.  For this he turned to Dwarvin’s lighting system which is based on using fiber optics instead of LED’s.

Over Door Lighting

Whilst Dwarvin provides Industrial Building Lamps using optical fiber, these are designed for an older era.  Steve wanted something more modern, so he custom built some lights using plastic C channel which hid the ends of the 1mm fibers.  1mm holes were drilled through the 1/8” MDF walls and the fibers were simply pushed through the holes so that they barely protruded through the wall.  The small piece of C channel shielded the end of the fiber.  The width of each light is 4-5mm, modeling a real life 18” wide industrial light.

Lighting The Building

This is where Steve got really creative.  He used a mixture of end fiber light as well as nicks to the fiber.  Nicking the fiber allows light to leak out of the side of the fiber.  Whilst this never provides the same intensity of light as the light from the end of an ‘end-glow fiber’ it allows a single fiber to light various objects along it’s way.  For this Steve used mainly 1.5mm fiber.   In order to block any unwanted light from the fibers, Steve then added a ‘dull coat’ behind the windows, and covered some strands with heat shrink tubing.  The latter served the dual purpose of hiding the strands where no light was wanted and also to route the fibers together.

The following 'day light' image allows you to see more easily what Steve did with routing the fibers.

Lighting Signage

The real surprise came with how Steve lit the signage.  For this he used 1/8” clear Lexan to which the logo, printed on paper, was glued on the front of the Lexan.  He then glued 5 strands of 1.5mm fiber to the back of the Lexan, nicking the fibers in a number of places on the rear side.  Finally, he put some black backing onto the signage.  The effect as you can see is incredible.

Putting it all together

When you put all this together, the result is quite startling.  I wish I had a building lit like this on my layout!


Yet another view to get a sense of the subtlety of the lighting effects, Steve managed to get.

As a manufacturer, one never knows what customers will do with one’s product.  However, when put into the hands of a creative person like Steve Juranics, a masterpiece can be created.  We are excited that our product line allows for such creativity, as this was one of the main objectives behind the product design.   If you would like to see more customer images, go to our Customer Showcase page.

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