[ Overview ]

Hello everyone! This instructable will walk you through some steps to create this (or similar) table lamp. The lamp's pattern comes from an electron microscope image of a leaf. Dark areas in the image translate to small circles, while lighter parts of the image generate progressively larger circles. The image is cut into four panels which make up the lamp itself.

The whole lamp costs about $25.00 if you have free access to a laser cutter. I am fortunate enough to have access to a laser, which I used to make this lamp. However, you can simulate the effect by using a hand drill or drill press.

The pattern is generated digitally, using a program called Grasshopper. I'll only discuss this briefly, as this is not a technical tutorial and Grasshopper is a very complicated 3D modeling program. That said, I will post the pattern, drawing files, and source image along with this instructable for those who wish to use it. You can find a pattern online, make your own, or use mine.

[ Materials & Tools ]

1/8" Thick Hardboard
– this makes up the four panels and the base (Lowe's has 4' x 8' sheets for $9.00 and will cut down to size for you)
Alternate: Hardboard is sturdy and fairly easy to work with. However, you can use cardboard (which is surprisingly sturdy when laminated) or chipboard, or even thin plywood.

Laser Cutter
Alternate: Drill or Drill Press

Vellum or Mylar – this is used to diffuse the light (can find at artists supply store)
Alternate: rice paper, trace paper, or other translucent scrap-booking paper

Spray Mount (Supper 77) – can find at hardware stores or artist supplies store, or places like Michael's


Small knife or wire strippers

Lamp cord (with or without inline on/off dial) – Hardware store, less than $6.00

Lamp holder (plastic or ceramic) – Home Depot, Lowe's, Ace. Costs about $2.00

2 small mounting bolts to secure the lamp holder
2 washers for bolts
2 nuts for bolts

Linseed Oil
(optional) – used to coat hardboard in order to provide a nice finish and darker material

Small piece of walnut or other wood (optional)- used in an optional detail to help hold lamp together

Super Glue (Loctite Gel)
Alternative: Hot Glue Gun

Foam Brush or Rag - for applying Linseed Oil

Step 1: Brief Description of Digital Pattern Generation

I will keep this portion fairly brief, as it relates to complicated 3d modeling and is probably beyond the scope of this tutorial. The thing to understand about the pattern, is that a script is used to take color data from an image an translate this data into a visual pattern of circles, or “circle map”. A black and white source image of high contrast is used and the script places the largest circles over the lightest areas in the image. The darker the pixels in the image get, the smaller the circles get. The result is a sort of gradient map of circles that relate the source image.

The images show some examples, as well as the image map I used. The script allows me to try different images and different scales very quickly. When I settle on a design, I export the pattern into AutoCAD for prepping my laser cut files.
<p>Thanks for this great share! I was wondering if you could tell us which option in one of the CAD software that would convert the picture(s) into ones with small holes in them, thank you. I'm new to CAD. </p>
wonderful!you just inspire me a lot!thx
Beautiful :)
Dude that is a cool lamp! Once it gets accepted into the lamps and lighting contest I'll give it a vote :D
Thanks, appreciate it.
That is so cool! I love the pattern :)
Thanks! <br>

About This Instructable


319 favorites


More by kickice82003: DIY Circle Map Lamp From Scratch Bubble Wall | Interactive, Inflatable Panel Ossein Lavallier: 3d Model to Physical Object
Add instructable to: