Mica? Shoji?

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Forum topic by IowaWoodcrafter posted 03-03-2008 05:39 AM 3944 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4552 days

03-03-2008 05:39 AM

After I finsh our new Mission style bed I’d like to make matching lamps. There are several examples of beautiful mission style lamps that other lumberjocks have made. Many of these lamps use mica. I’ve never used mica and have no idea what it is. Can someone enlighten me? How is it worked? Please teach this dog some new tricks.

I’ve also heard of shoji screens. Can someone explain this material and how it is used?

Thanks in advance.

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

9 replies so far

View WhiskeyWaters's profile


213 posts in 4282 days

#1 posted 03-03-2008 06:38 AM

Remembering my third grade geology lessons….Mica is a type of rock. If there’s a big chunk of it, it forms sheets – kind of like flint for arrowheads and stuff. I remember it being shiny.

The shoji screens are made outta rice paper, if my memory serves.

And that’s all I have, really – someone else to explain better may have the floor now.

-- make it safe & keep the rubber side down.

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4291 days

#2 posted 03-03-2008 07:34 AM

Mica is a mineral. It is easily cleaved into sheets. It was once used in high heat applications for windows into furnaces or kerosine stoves. It is also used in lamp shades for its natural earthy beauty. Here is a copper lamp with a mica shade. Mica throws a very warm light and is used a lot in arts and crafts lighting.

Mica lamp

-- Scott - Chico California

View Tim Pursell's profile

Tim Pursell

499 posts in 4258 days

#3 posted 03-03-2008 02:11 PM

Mica sheets are not hard to cut. You can use a fine tooth scroll/jig/coping saw, I often use an 80 tooth ply blade & cut it on the tablesaw. You can even cut it with a sharp utility knife & straight edge. just make several scoreing passes.


View 's profile

593 posts in 4448 days

#4 posted 03-03-2008 03:19 PM

If you want durability and a material that can stand some abuse go for the mica. On the other hand, if you prefer the delicate and—literally—light japanese touch go for the ”shoujigami”, the rice paper used in the ”shouji” screens. Don’t forget though that the rice paper is VERY prone to get ripped and a simple wandering finger at night trying to reach for the light switch goes easily trough it like a hot knife through butter.

Installing the japanese paper requires some proper technique and it’s done while wet so it gets the right amount of tensioning once dry… too much and it will tear apart, to loose and it looks really bad and plentiful of rides.

Also think that classic ”shoujigami” is plain white and all of mica’s beauty resides in the beautiful wood-like grain and subtle tone variations. It’s way more warm in it’s color.

Jojo, “shouji” all around, “tatami” below.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4049 posts in 4540 days

#5 posted 03-03-2008 08:39 PM

There is another alternative to shoji paper should you decide to go that route. I admired Todd Clippinger's Prairie-style fixtures from the Cooper House Project, and he took the time to respond with this information:

Thanks for taking a look at my projects. I have been busy and haven’t had much time to spend responding to queries about the projects.

#1. The shoji material is incredibly durable. I love the stuff. It is not the fragile “rice paper” product you would imagine. It is synthetic and very, very durable. The chandeliers have a piece of glass over the “paper” that can be rolled. I designed and made those before the entertainment center.

On the entertainment center I used an acrylic shoji panel. The material is bonded to acrylic and I was told by the distributor that it was durable and suitable for exterior use. What I liked about it was the flat, no-glare surface. It is very lightweight. I had the distributor precut the panels to a size close to what I needed, reducing the size of the package saved me a lot of money in shipping. I cut it myself to exact size with a blade specific to cutting acrylic and plastics from Freud. The blade cost me about $85.

Here is the distributor info on the shoji products; PH# 253-857-4712 Owner- Ed Crowell. Ed is a super nice guy to do business with and I will buy from him again. He probably can send you samples of the various materials, he did for me. He will explain the products to you.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4552 days

#6 posted 03-04-2008 02:00 AM

Thanks for the information everyone. I have one more question, where does a person get mica?

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

View Max's profile


56000 posts in 4749 days

#7 posted 03-04-2008 02:11 AM


I get mine from a lamp store that also makes lamp shades. Here is place that you can get it online also.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View ChicoWoodnut's profile


904 posts in 4291 days

#8 posted 03-04-2008 03:29 AM

If you go to google and type in “Mica Plate” you will find many suppliers of natural mica.


-- Scott - Chico California

View 's profile

593 posts in 4448 days

#9 posted 03-04-2008 03:01 PM

You are right Doug, here in Japan there’s also matte glass panels that imitate incredibly well the shoji and are commonly used for the windows on the public lavatories and such “low maintenance” places. But I doubt those make its way Stateside…

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