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A Little Light on the Subject

Gerard Van Spaendonck, Still Life

Dear Friends:
Once again, I have been receiving several requests for information on light boxes and light tables. In response, I have prepared the following updated information  to help you find your way to the light box that best suits your purpose.

My personal favorite is the Gagne Porta-Trace Line of light boxes. I have three in different sizes and find them all to work very satisfactorily. When you do a little web searching, you will find that the price varies quite a bit from supplier to supplier. Setting the standard for true color, maximum light diffusion, and attractive, durable design, Gagne Porta-Trace LED Light Boxes boast eco-friendly, bright white LED lights that save on energy consumption and last up to 50,000 hours.

One VERY important fact about GAGNE Porta-Trace is that their Plexiglas® cover does not warp!!! Also, the stainless steel model is lightweight and rust-resistant. The wood model is beautifully crafted from 5/8″ thick solid oak. Both include a shatter-resistant, 1/4″ thick opal Plexiglas® top that offers wide, even illumination with minimal glare and no hot spots.

B & H Photo in New York City carries all kinds of equipment from cameras to light boxes, scanners, etc., etc. I have purchased from them several times and found them to be an excellent resource. However, I recommend that you do your research and make your decision based on the best deal at the time. Many suppliers offer light boxes on special, and you might inquire when they plan to have their next sale.

The Gagne Porta-Trace 18 X 24 is a good size to have because a half sheet of watercolor paper will fit nicely on top of the Plexiglas® and it gives good light. This model comes with a stainless steel casing and an attached metal handle for easy carrying and lifting and moving around.

The larger Gagne Porta-Trace model 24 X 36 with 4-20W Bulbs (5000K) can hold a full sheet of watercolor paper. It comes in a wood casing and has a detachable stand. So does the 36” x 48” with 4-40W Bulbs (5000K) if you have the room and budget for such a purchase. These table models are great, but they are quite expensive. At the moment, the best price for new seems to be on GS Direct. Their toll-free number is 1-800-234-3729. You might want to check eBay or Craig’s list for sales and used ones.

Keep in mind when you are setting up your studio you need maximum table and storage surface. The table model doubles as a working surface as well, but keep in mind if used as such it should have a non-penetrable cutting surface placed atop when not used as a light box. In fact, all light boxes should have a surface protector like the ALVIN Self-Healing Cutting Mats with a grid. The mat with the cutting surface up can be placed on top of the light table as a protective cover and used as another drawing surface, as well as a cutting surface. They come in several colors: green, black, white, clear, and blue.

For those of you who are wood shop handy, or know someone who is, a light box can be built with fluorescent lights attached to the bottom of a wood casing, a switch, and topped with opaque or clear Plexiglas®.

In the event, the work you want to transfer is too large for your lightbox, then use a large window or a glass table. You can place a small lamp under the glass table, and it will help you see clearly what you need to transfer.

Happy Spring!

God bless. OM

 Gerard Van Spaendonck, Tulipe

Here are several web sites to get you started on your light box search:

The cutting mats can be purchased in the places listed above as well as these resources.


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