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MSU's notable lanterns: The magic behind the making

Posted at 11:26 PM, May 16, 2024
  • Video shows the making of MSU's famous lanterns.
  • Piece by piece, each lantern begins as a sheet of copper, where the team uses a prototype to determine the dimensions.
  • "We add the base to it. We started out making the base....We made the scrolls... Andy in the machine shop machined out the bottom piece for us... And our last piece was putting the roof on," described MSU Sheet Metal Worker, Nick Martin.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

I'm your MSU neighborhood reporter, Lauren Lendzion.

If you've traveled across Michigan State's campus, you've probably noticed the lanterns scattered throughout. But, what you may not know is the history behind them and how they are made.

"They've been on campus forever," said Skilled Trade Supervisor for Metal Services at MSU, Mike Ouderkirk.

Decades of history and production start here, at MSU's Metal Shop, where craftsmen like shop Supervisor Mike Ouderkirk and his team are hard at work, "I was a machinist. I cut all of this out of the copper...The windows. Now we burn them on a plasma table," explained Ouderkirk.

Piece by piece, each lantern begins as a sheet of copper, where the team uses a prototype to determine the dimensions.

The copper is then laid out on a plasma table where it is burned and cut, to create the framework of the lantern.

But that's not all...

"We add the base to it. We started out making the base....We made the scrolls... Andy in the machine shop machined out the bottom piece for us... And our last piece was putting the roof on," described MSU Sheet Metal Worker, Nick Martin.

With over 80 hours of labor from start to finish, the building of the lanterns is indeed, a team effort, "Our welders make the arm, and then send out to powder coating," said Ouderkirk.

And once the arms are powder coated and painted, they are finally ready to be installed...where they'll continue to line MSU's campus and light the way for those that walk it.

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