Imagination to Realism in Craft Light

by Michael Groves

What draws your eyes into scenery? Probably realism is one of the most important attributes.

Coming from the USA via Australia and England I have a penchant for roundabouts or traffic circles. These can provide a great opportunity to have several different scenes that can be seen at a glance. It was this design that initiated my interest in developing lighting. Deciding  to avoid creating a wiring rats nest, the Dwarvin fiber optic lighting system was conceived.

Each of the buildings is lit with a single 1.5mm diameter fiber, and the ‘Swan-neck’ street lamps are spaced at 4” intervals, providing lighting onto a range of cars. Note how the scene is interesting without the lighting, but the lighting has really made this area pop out even with overhead lighting on.  

Ten years ago I would have resisted creating this lighting, using instead LED Lights for Models, but the fiber optic approach makes it so easy to add a lamp, that lights are popping up all over the layout!

The image below shows my first design for this area of the layout.  The rudiments are there.  I use Homosote on a 1 X 3” wood frame for the base.  Most of the buildings are scratch built but the Church and police station are from ready made kits.  For the roundabout, (read traffic circle in Americanees) I used the top of a yoghurt container to make the base of the island, and first stuck a store bought tree.  However, looking out of my study window I saw some box-wood the stems of which had great striations on them, simulating the trunk of a tree.  Snipping the stem off it and removing the leaves, provided a much more realistic looking tree for the island.   

You will notice the cemetery next to the church had not yet taken form, in another article I’ll take a look at how this came to life (strange thing to say about such a place!) and the approach I’m taken to lighting it.

The fun part about the lighting, is that with the Dwarvin system, all you need is a drill and imagination - zero wiring.

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