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Properly Illuminating the Past

Robby Raccoon

Trash Digger
Jun 14, 2014
Locō movērī
Introducing Tape Lights (Not Rope Lights), a Better Alternative to Any Other Lighting for Labeled Bottles. :cool:
First of all, the low-quality cell-phone photos make the light look purple, but to the human/bear eye, the light in person is nearly pure white. Secondly, the glare is less harsh in person: especially since these tape-lights come with a remote control affecting intensity!
Permanent Damage from Wrong Lighting
As many of you know, light is very damaging to pigments and even paper. By far, direct sunlight (and halogen bulbs) is the worst-- if you stop at sunny restaurants, you may see fairly blue-coloured artwork. Typically, the artwork didn't start out blue: the blue colour is from sun-damage, and unlike people, pigmented paper doesn't heal. Following sunlight, those big fluorescent lights you see in many offices, and typical incandescent bulbs many homes still use, are the worst.
So, that leaves (in terms of artificial light) CFL (the curly bulbs) and LEDs.
Because any pigment is subject to permanent damage (labels, letters, paintings, book spines, rugs, etc.), it is best to keep historically/monetarily valuable/sentimental items out of light whenever possible. This is why I keep my labeled bottles in a cupboard, which is closed whenever I'm not looking at the junk therein (yes, it's junk since it's of no moral/physical benefit to us).
The problem, then, is in lighting. Previously, I'd open up the cupboard, but the light from my room struggled to reach into the darkness to illuminate the past. Colours seemed dull, details were lost in shadows, and everything was a general dimness. At work today, though, I noted that the colour-changing (not plain soft white which is on the yellow side, in which case you might as well just buy rope-lights) tape-lights were on sale, so, using my employee discount and the rebate to boot, I got these at a decent price.
Benefits of Tape Lights
These tape-lights come with a self-adhesive backing (though I had to add dots of glue to make them stick to the unfinished wood), clips you can screw in (not gonna happen here!), a remote control that affects the colour (any colour you want!) and intensity of the light. They can be cut to size and connected together, and they are the least damaging type of lighting for pigments and paper. Interestingly, I found them to make the aqua glass seem to glow, and red pigments become incredibly intense though they do not have enhancers in them. Because of how thin they are, they can be easily hidden in the cabinet, and they are even water-resistant for use outdoors. They give a nearly museum-quality effect and bring clear illumination to what is otherwise a dark hole.
Drawbacks of Tape Lights
The problems I encountered were: they don't bend to right angles, they don't stick to unfinished wood, you have to buy extra accessories if you cut them and want to join them again, the light blinds you if you look at it, they reveal my repairs to labels (for example, in repairing a red label, I used red. In normal light, it looks really good. In these, it seems you're using a black light for the repair glows bright!), and they normally cost more than rope-lights.

As a final note, mirrors behind the bottles help too.


Well-Known Member
Feb 23, 2015
LaPorte County, Indiana
Spirit, another example of damaging light is - remember the video rental stores that were so plentiful 20 years ago? I remember all the video boxes that were near the front window had a purple tinge from the sunlight that came in. Faded all the red and yellow color out. I sell at flea markets and I always have to be careful to keep color printed items out of the sun.

Thanks for the heads up!


Well-Known Member
Aug 14, 2012
Spirit Bear,
Great post and very informative.
Thank you

If it is possible to post it here...
What brand and where did you get them.
I'm not sure they will work for my application, but I would like to look into it.

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