I have been playing with making spherical lithophanes with my new 3D printer (PrintrBot Simple Metal). I wrote some Java code to read the image data and then map the image to a sphere. The thickness of the sphere is determined by the darkness of the image. Below are some pictures of the results. I illuminated the bulbs by drilling a small hole in the sphere and sticking a Christmas light into the hole. My Christmas tree lights are colored resulting in the bulbs appearing colored when illuminated.
Here is a shot of some of the bulbs without illumination.
I would like to add features to the balls to make them look more like traditional Christmas bulbs but the mesh that is produced by my Java program is so large that I have not been able to perform even the simplest Boolean operations on them.