Holiday Lighting Magic (Jan, 1942)

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Holiday Lighting Magic

Here are some original suggestions for attractive home Christmas displays.

by Earle Gage

THIS holiday season, as never before, homes and communities throughout the land will burst forth into magical greeting, as home craftsmen fabricate and illuminate new and brilliant displays. The festive spirit of the season and the gay atmosphere of gala events will live in sparkling, colorful lights.

Holiday lighting presents unlimited opportunities for the home craftsman to exercise his imagination and ingenuity. Standard wired materials and lamps lend themselves to many combinations to give new designs and arrangements of displays, both inside and outside homes.

Many useful materials, such as composition board, metal foils, metal sheets, transluscent fabrics, plastic sheets and shapes, natural and artificial materials, plexiglas, color mediums and floodlights may be used to create modest or elaborate displays.

One of the easiest and most effective greetings is the glowing cutout of “Merry Christmas” or “Yuletide Greetings,” cut from wallboard, the openings covered with translucent fabric which is illuminated from behind by a row of 25-watt lamps mounted on wooden or metal light trough painted white on the inside.

The style of letters used, or the words spelled, may be varied to meet the taste of the craftsman, while the length and height of the cutout may be made to fill any desired space, distance from the street determining the size of letters to insure clearness.

It is easy to make a cutout scene of a Chirstmas picture, which may be silhouetted against a light-colored background, the house serving as the background, making the cutout of wallboard, painting the back of the cutout white. The three camels of the Wise Men crossing the desert makes an ideal scene, the effectiveness of which is attractive, because it is both simple and beautiful.

A novel use of the cutout is to make a tree-shaped cutout of wallboard of desired proportions. Where the doorway is light colored, or there is a light-toned surface to provide a background for projected shadow effects, a small floodlight of 200-watts, using a clear lamp bulb, may be set back of the cutout of the tree and the shadow cast on the doorway or surface. You may make the shadow fit the desired space by simply adjusting the distance between the cutout and the floodlight.

Multiple silhouette displays are readily adaptible to indoor and outdoor use. The multiplane Christmas tree is an example. One idea is to use three of these on your lawn, build in three planes, lighted in red, blue and green, located at advantageous points to set off the remainder of the display. Or you can use a multiplane tree built in three planes, placed behind a front window. An ingenious method of showing a candle-light effect is to cut slits in the wallboard in the shape of candles. The light from concealed lamps will shine through, giving the impression that luminous candles are mounted on the tree.

A multiplane star, built in three planes, can be placed before a front window of the second floor of the house. The size of the star may be varied to meet the need, using either 25- or 40-watt lamps of any color between the second and third planes.

Two-plane trees make excellent indoor decorations for the fireplace mantel. Each three contains three low-wattage lamps concealed between the planes. The trees may be of any desired height to fit the scheme of architecture or decorative plan. These trees are also effective when used in windows, lighted by stronger wattage lamps.

Luminous candles, with multiplane flames make attractive and appropriate decorations for the doorway. The candles are made of wooden frames covered with celloglass. The candles may be made in half or full cylinders, with a light socket at the top and bottom for lamps and a small reflector made of sheet tin. The flame-shaped lamp candle droppings at the top complete the candle, and a cover of cellophane gives a shiny, frosty appearance. These candles may be made of any size . required to light indoor or outdoor backgrounds.

Corners of rooms may be dark, serving as excellent spots to place large luminous candles. These may be combined with garlands of evergreen draped around the room at the ceiling, or . for interesting lighted decorations. Colored lamps of not more than 25 watts may be used to light decorations on the Christmas tree.

You will find it easy to make shields to cover sidewall lamps, or to hang on brackets, using cardboard and a pot of paste. These may be designed to suit the taste.

Creating a snow scene in the living room is a unique way of decoration. This is done by use of strong white cords which are stretched near the ceiling from the four corners to a point in the center of the room, or diagonally from corner to corner. To make the”storm” dense, place intermediate strings. Suspend from the cords at six-inch intervals, “snow flakes” made of small cotton puffs. The strings of the puffs, suspended from the cords, are of different lengths and as close together as possible. When these puffs are lighted by use of concealed lights, the general effect is that of falling snow.

Spotlights may be made of old coffee cans, with shiny surfaces and regular natural colored lamps. These are placed above the line of vision. The “snow” is most effective if lighted from the corners of the room with a different color from each corner. Flashes, as used on the tree, help bring out a weird effect.

Using this storm scene as a background, the dining table may be decorated with candles, or small Christmas trees lighted with the new candle type series lamps, or with various Christmas scenes which are made of crepe paper, artificial snow and lights.

Now we are ready to decorate the Christmas tree, which should be well proportioned, and if one side is better than the other, put that side out and the poor side toward the corner. The base of the tree should be draped with green cloth or tissue paper and the larger gifts piled close to it. If the tree is set in a dish of water, it will keep green longer.

The branches may receive a frosted effect by touching them with liquid glue and sprinkling diamond dust on. Cotton, fluffed and sprinkled with dust may be used to make drifts of snow on some of the branches, while cotton-flakes may be suspended from the twigs. Cranberries and popcorn kernels may be fastened to the ends of twigs by use of invisible hairpins.

A tree decorated entirely with silver makes a pretty scene. Silver tinsel balls, draped of tinsel, ropes and a silver star at the top is the only trim needed This makes a breath-taking scene, with its branches drenched with tinsel snow gleaming under the light of a powerful concealed bulb.

A beautiful tree is one on which nothing but silver-blue tinsel ornaments are used. Peeping out of the branches are bright red miniature electric bulbs, sparsely used with sufficient light only to cause the tinsel decorations to glitter. Too much light would spoil the effect.

  1. Terry says: December 22, 201111:37 am

    Such restraint a compared to anything in my neighborhood.

  2. Jari says: December 22, 20116:02 pm

    All of those would be over the top in here… Merry Christmas, everyone.

  3. David Moisan says: December 24, 20116:40 am

    Considering the publication date, not too many built Christmas displays that year, since that issue would hit the stands in December previous, early at that. And, um, er,…a Zeppelin?

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