For this project, I was challenged to make a lamp using $1 or less. This colorful polyhedron table lamp is made entirely from other people's "garbage," and the materials cost me absolutely nothing! It is fun and functional, and can rest on any of its faces. The lamp is decorative, easy to make, and is both economically and environmentally responsible.
The instructions include every step of the process from assembling the lamp form to wiring the light bulb. The chipboard frame is laser-cut, and the pattern for it is included as .eps files. The files can be downloaded and customized. If you do not have access to a laser cutter, the net can be cut by hand.
Step 1: Materials & Tools
I gathered all these materials from what others discarded, so I paid nothing for them. Asking friends or businesses for used or unwanted material was a great start, but I did have to dig through some dumpsters to find what I needed!
The tools, other than the laser cutter, are all standard tools I had on hand.
- 18" x 36" sheet of cardboard or chipboard (if you can't find a single sheet of that size, multiple smaller pieces will work; recycling bins are full of cardboard boxes)
- Boba straws (or other translucent straws)
- Cord with plug (can be cut from any old appliance)
- Light socket (I got mine from a broken lamp)
- Light bulb
- Laser cutter
- Scissors/box cutter
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue sticks
- Electrical tape
Step 2: Cutting the Frame
The first step in making the lamp is preparing the frame of the polyhedron by laser cutting cardboard or chipboard using the attached blueprints. If you do not have access to a laser cutter, the pattern can be printed on paper, traced onto your sheets of cardboard or chipboard, and cut out using a box cutter.
The original blueprint for the laser cut is 18" x 36". If you do not have a single sheet of cardboard or chipboard of that size, or if your laser cutting bed is too small, the file can be opened and the pattern can be broken up into two or three parts. I used two 24" x 18" pieces of chipboard, so I divided the pattern into two files. If you cut it in multiple pieces, do not try to attach them until a later step, when all faces of the polyhedron are being attached..
Step 3: Attaching the Straws
Next, the boba straws are attached to the frame, forming translucent panels. The colors are up to you, but I made each face of the polyhedron one color.
To form the window-like panels, the straws must be attached to the frame using hot glue. This is the most time-consuming part of the process, because it is important that the straws are cut neatly and attached tightly against one another.
Form the panels one at a time, first deciding which color you want to use for each polygon on the frame. Place the frame face-down on a flat surface (the scored side should be down). Attach the straws individually, cutting each one so that it covers the open space with about a quarter of an inch extra on each side. Using hot glue on each side, firmly attach each straw to the frame.
Step 4: Wiring the Light
The next step of making the lamp is wiring the light! This can be dangerous and it is important to follow safety standards and be very careful during this step.
Take the end of the cord with the exposed wire and carefully cut between the two metal wires, about five inches down, so that the individually insulated wires are separated. Tie an electrician's knot, and expose about one inch on the end of each wire. Using pliers and a screwdriver, wrap each wire around the appropriate screw on the socket and tighten the screws. Once both wires are attached to the socket, tighten the knot close to the socket and cover the entire bottom of the socket with electrical tape. Screw on the bulb.
Step 5: Final Assembly
The last step is to put the whole lamp together. The frame must be folded (and attached if multiple pieces were used), the light socket and bulb must be inserted, and the edges must be glued together.
To hold the socket and bulb in place within the lamp, I cut a 3.5" circle of chipboard with a circle the diameter of the light socket in the middle, and a slit on the side. The light socket fits snugly into this ring, which supports it inside the lamp.
Attached is a diagram showing how the frame folds and where the cord enters the lamp, indicated by a red circle. First fold and attach the majority of the lamp, leaving one panel adjacent to the cord open so that the socket can be inserted last. I used hot glue to join the sides, and I secured each edge by lining the inside of the joint with electrical tape.
Put the wires through the small notches in the frame, and rest the socket and the ring on the inside of the lamp. To close the last panel, line the edges of the open panel and the edges it attaches to with electrical tape. This will allow for easier reopening of this panel to change the bulb. Press the panel closed, carefully ensuring that it is securely taped to the other edges from the inside. The light bulb and socket should be secure, and the lamp is entirely constructed.
Once this is done, the lamp is complete! Enjoy the versatile table lamp created from what was once considered trash.