Lightblok by Blok On! with Syamly

When JUICE laid our eyes on these lightboxes, we immediately fell in love. Words have always lit up our lives but never quite like this: simple, practical and  way cool, we grabbed Lightblok by Blok On! mastermind, Syamly to tell us more about himself and his operations in the dark … er, light.

“I graduated from Graphic Design in a local college in Ampang mid-90s and have been working from the basic desktop publishing to web flash interactive designer. Now I am happily involved with Malaysia’s leading gaming industry GameBrains as a UI artist.”

“I’ve had this idea since 2004. The neon signage has always been one of my favourite items-to-have in my living room. After extensive research online on DIY neon signs, {creating it] was not as easy as I thought. It’s expensive too! I tried other options and came the idea of the Lightblok. Making Lightblok actually started as a hobby, but people just kept on ordering from me and it became a part-time thing.”

“My favourite source of inspiration is www.ffffound.com.”

“I like graphic motion designer www.gmunk.com and a graffiti artist Banksy. I’d like to collaborate with Banksy!!!”

“Making more money is what I do for fun!”

“The Malaysia design scene is still in need of new and fresh ideas. If you pay enough attention [you’ll find in] Kuala Lumpur, the majority is copy and paste style from advertising to graffiti.”

“If I get to do anything at all, I’d redesign our national car from the logos to the car design. The Thundercat logo has got to go.”

“Upcoming plans are to make more kick-ass Lightbloks! Still setting up  my Etsy.com store which will probably be ready by end of this year. Will try to introduce Lightblok internationally when all the shipping rates, pricing and payment is set. For the time being, I’m just focusing on local orders.”

How to make a Lightblok.
“It’s tideous work- dusty, messy and a lot of cursing involved for first timer (smiles).

First, you need a few power tools – a mitre saw, jig saw, sander and a drill - and patience.

Print out the outline of the design. You can use any vector design application of your choice. After mounting the design paper on your piece of plank, you need to start cutting. The most tideous part is cutting based on the design because you need to slowly cut through the outline and must be really careful not to break the plank since wood is not as solid as Perspex or plastic. The plywood I prefer is 3mm thickness plywood. It can take up to 10 minutes to 45 minutes to cut depending on the complexity of the design.

After you’ve cut out the design, you need to sand both sides of the surface using a sander to smoothen out the surface to give it a nice polished look.

Once you’ve done sanding, it’s time to glue the cutout front to a 1cm x 1inch wood plank to give it a box shape body. The back of the box should be also the same size as the front cut-out to cover the back of the box.

Once the glue is attached with the front plank, you need to drill holes for screws for the back cover. I personally do this since the fluorescent tubes can be exchanged easily if the fluorescent tube burns out.

After you’ve tightened the screws on the back cover, you need to sand the box again with the sander to give it a smooth surface all over the unfinished Lightblok before painting it.

Once done sanding, the back cover is taken off to install the light fixtures and plastic cover for the front cutout design. So once you’ve attached the plastic and coloured paper to front cover, you will need to install the light fixtures. The easiest thing at this stage is installing the lights. The tube comes with a plug and 2 brackets you can just screw to the body of the Lightblok.

Now you have to drill a few holes on the back cover for air ventilation (the tube heats up a bit, but that’s normal), to hang it up and for your cables to reach the plug source.

The final stage involves painting the box. When you’re done with that, just sit back and stare happily at your newly DIY Lightblok. Tadaaaaa!”

Check out Syamly’s work on www.flickr.com/photos/thesyemism. Forget the DIY malarkey and get yourself a Lightblok at only RM80 upwards by e-mailing Syamly at syamly@gmail.com.