In this instructable i will show you how i built a copper wall lamp! This lamp is the centerpiece of the room and creates a warm, industrial atmosphere. While not cheap, this lamp is easy to build and can be modified to fit any wall layout.
This instructable will be relatively non-specific, as the actual layout will need to be customized for the individual installation. Instead of a step by step guide, I will share my overall design and what i learned throughout the process.
Step 1: Ingredients
You don't need much.
- a pipe cutter
- lamp kit (one socket for each bulb, a good length of cord with a plug at one end, and some wire nuts for connecting the wires). The wire guage should be sized appropriately for the number of bulbs. Ask someone at the hardware store for help if you don't know how to do this.
- A switch of some sort. I use a remote outlet
- lots and lots of copper pipe, fittings, and pipe straps for mounting.
- a level, a hammer and/or a drill
Copper is not cheap. Your design could easily be smaller and cheaper than mine, but just to give you a rough price point, my wall cost me over 200 dollars when all was said and done. Was it worth it? 100%. Just look at it...
Step 2: Design the Wall
You could just go out and buy a bunch of copper tubes and fittings and just have at it, designing on the fly and puzzling the pieces together, and then return whatever you don't use. I decided to do a calculated approach, laying it all out on paper then going out and buying the pieces. However, i found that my design did change a bit during the build, and i ended up having to do many trips to home depot to buy more. I would suggest a combination of the two: get a rough design on paper, counting all the pieces you need and a rough estimate on the length of pipe, then go buy more than that. Then you can either expand on your design as you build, or just return whatever you don't use.
I tried to make mine look industrial and almost electronic, like a circuit. Some of the branches have to be exact, and have to take into account the added width of the fittings, for example anywhere you have a square (both sides must be the same length. Other branches don't have to be exact, and can use whatever extra lengths you have laying around after cutting all of the precise lengths, for example the straight pieces trailing off to nowhere.
Step 3: Further Design Considerations
I chose to design my structure on this complicated corner of the room, that actually has 4 different wall sections and three corners. Building around corners is very easy to do with copper pipe, and adds a lot of dimension (literally) to the piece. Just keep in mind your measurements have to be exact when spanning multiple corners.
I also decided to make some shelves that actually stick off the wall. When making these, you need to consider the rigidity of the connection point. You don't want the shelf to fold down. I found that the easiest way is to use an elbow or a tee that connects to the shelf perpendicularly. See the picture to see what i am talking about
Lastly, i decided to "pull" the blue wall onto the white wall with the blue square framed by the copper pipe, pictured above. Be creative with the design, there are a lot of unique things you can do with a project like this.
Step 4: Building the Wall
Just choose a place and start!
Your starting point should be a piece that can be supported by a single pipe strap if you don't have someone to help you hold it up. A Tee might be a good piece.
I did not solder any of the pipe. Some of the pieces fit snugly together, and for those that didn't, i used a piece of scotch tape around the edge to thicken it so it did fit snugly. This way i can take it all apart when i move. After all, i rent (apologies to my landlord for all the holes).
Use the pipe cutter to cut the pieces as you go. Think about the lengths when cutting to get the most out of each pipe. Start with the pieces that have exact lengths and divide them into the full pipe length, and use the remainders for the pieces with non-exact lengths.
For the straps, i started using the nails they came with, but i found that sometimes the nails didn't hold well in the drywall and the strap was loose, so i got some small screws and started using those which held them much tighter.
Building smaller sections off of the wall and then mounting the whole piece in place can be a good strategy for some parts.
Levels are your friend! A small angle on a long stretch of pipe turns into a very obvious skew.
Step 5: The Electrical
Don't forget to design for the lamp cord. Have a copper piece sticking down close to the floor near an outlet for the cord to start. I hid mine behind a piece of furniture. Consider designing it so there is a simple path from that point to the light bulbs. Also consider where you will connect all the wires together (the ones from the outlet to the ones for each bulb. The bulbs are connected in parallel). I have the wires from the outlet and the wires from each bulb all going to the leftmost end of the structure where i could remove a piece of pipe for access. I used wire nuts to connect them appropriately, then shoved them all in the end piece and threw an endcap to conceal it.
I built the whole thing, then took the necessary pieces apart to string the lamp cord through. This was the hardest part. Alternatively you could string the cord through as you build it the first time, if you know where it is going to be. Leave enough length at the end to reach the outlet. I also connected a ground wire from the copper pipe to the outlet, for added safety. If you buy a kit that doesn't have a third prong for ground, don't worry about it.
The lamp cord plugs into the remote outlet which plugs into the wall.
Instead of using a kit, i actually cannibalized an old lamp to get all of the pieces. I used acrylic paint to make the white ceramic light sockets look like copper with patina.
Step 6: Enjoy!
I used edison bulbs to add to the aesthetic. This fixture gets a lot of compliments, and combined with a few other pipe pieces around the room, creates a warm and modern-industrial feel to my apartment. It is a straightforward build, though time consuming and fairly costly. In the end, though, you will have a unique centerpiece to your room. You can even consider adding a remote dimmer for added ambiance.
I didn't go into too much detail about measurements or the the specific design/build of this project because it really needs to be customized for each layout. Feel free to post questions if something wasn't clear.