What is a Lithophane?
Lithophanes are 3D photographs that when viewed in normal lighting
look a little dull and lifeless. But when back lit transform into stunning 3D
pictures with depth and detail that cannot be seen in a flat 2D photograph.
Lithophanes originate from a process developed back in the mid
1800's for mass producing 3D pictures in porcelain. A 3D design was hand
engraved into a thin sheet of bees wax that was placed over a lighted candle to
show the effect of light passing through the wax. This master design was then
used to make a mold for casting designs in porcelain. Varying levels of light to
pass through the porcelain depending upon the thickness
The Greek origin of lithophane work means "light in
stone" or to "appear in stone".
Examples of what lithophanes were used for include Decorative Lamp
Shades and Window Panels that came to life when lit from behind and German Beer
Jugs that had a translucent bases that turned into 3D pictures once the beer had
been drunk. Very few of the original antique lithophanes have survived because
the 3D images look crude and worthless unless held in front of a light.
For more information about lithophanes visit the The
Blair Museum of Lithophanes and the
Examples of lithophanes made using PhotoVCarve