Name in Lights! Well, Initials at Least.





Introduction: Name in Lights! Well, Initials at Least.

Since me and my girlfriend happen to have the same first initial, I thought it would be quite cool to immortalise it in lights, just like Broadway! Plus, it would make a nice lamp for the living room!

Step 1: Parts

First of all I had to figure out how many lights and what kind of lights I was going to use. My initial thought was to use some LED christmas tree lights, but that would have made the whole thing too small. I was looking to make something that was a reasonable size, and also maintaining a classic look.

I settled on clear golf ball incandesant bulbs, so you can see the filament. After a bit of research on ebay i managed to find some 15w ones which were ideal.

Once this was decided, I had to figure out how many bulbs I was going to use. Several sellers were selling batches of 10 bulbs, so that was a decision made for me, although this kinda stung me later on, more on that later!

So finally, a parts list:

1x 18mm MDF
10x 15w Golf ball bulbs, bayonet cap,
10x lamp holders,
Couple of metres of cable,
Various spray paints for giving an antiquey look,
1x 3a plug.

Step 2: Design

Using the amount of bulbs and size of the bulbs, I came up with a suitable overall size for my project. Then I had to design my letter "S" so I could easily lay it out by hand. I used AutoCAD for this to make it easier to get the dimensions. As you can see from the picture this was quite a wise move!

Step 3: Layout

Using the dimensions from AutoCAD I sketched out my design onto my MDF.

Step 4: Cutting

Then, cut out my design using a jigsaw.

Step 5: Sanding

Once my design was cut out, I needed to sand off the saw marks. I wanted my might to look antiquey but I didn't want any saw marks showing. First off I ran round the shape with my orbital sander, moving onto hand sanding for the tighter curves. I also made sure to round over the edges a bit, just to soften it up slightly.

Step 6: Bulb Layout

The only part I hadn't designed on AutoCAD was where the holes for the bulbs would go. I just ran a pencil line round the centre of my "S" then started to set out where the holes would be drilled. By my poor calcualtions I figured out for 10 bulbs they would be every 150mm or so. At this point I suggest double checking your measurements, as I made a stupid mistake here which I did not notice. See if you can spot it before I tell you in the next step!

Step 7: Drilling Holes

The lamp holders which I bought require a 30mm hole drilled, I didnt have drill bit this size, so I had to use a hole saw. As I was using a hole saw, I thought it best to use my pillar drill. Not only does using a pillar drill make sure all the holes are straight, but it is much safer, I knew a guy who had his wrist snapped by a hole saw that got stuck! So drill drill drill!

It was only once I had drilled all of my holes that I noticed my mistake from earlier. One too many holes! dammit! So I needed to get another light blub and holder, pretty annoying!

Make sure you check your work before cutting!!!

Step 8: Painting

Now the fun part! I bought a few different paints to try and achieve the look I wanted. A silver, a gold, a stone effect, and a black (not pictured).

Starting with the stone effect to give some texture, then I just worked over the whole thing with the various colours. Annoyingly the cap on my silver spray paint was not working properly and sprayed all over my hand. This, however,  was a blessing in disguise adding a few speckled splats and drops to the paint job. I also used a piece of cardboard to mask off a few points to give some shaped effects.

Step 9: Wiring.

Ok, now for the fiddly part. All 11 lamp holders had to be wired together in order for the lights to work, so starting at the one furthest from the plug, I just started working my way along. Since there was roughly 150mm gap between each lamp holder on the MDF I just cut 10 lengths of wire at around 250mm, this allowed extra wire for stripping and insertion into the wire holders at the back of each lamp holder. An hour later and I had completed the task! Also in the photo, you can see I added length enough to put a plug on.

Step 10: Fitting the Bulb Holders.

Once all the holders were wired, it was time to fit them. This was done using some Sugru and some sellotape to hold them in place while the Sugru cured.

Step 11: Almost Done...

Last thing to do, fit the bulbs!

Step 12: Ta-Da!!

So just had to switch them on and it was complete! I think it looks pretty damn good, and so does my girlfriend, and that was the main thing! Since finishing it, I have plugged it into a dimmer socket, just as even though the bulbs were only 15W, 11 of them adds up to 165W so it was pretty bright! But even then, the gold background mean that it reflects a very warm light into the room, which is quite pleasant.

As always, please comment as this is only my second instructable and I always appreciate the feedback!


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    12 Discussions

    Let me know how you used the AutoCAD...

    I need to make the word 'Exodus'

    it's beautiful! I remember to have commented an almost identical project maybe one year ago, was that one your project too? I don't remember if it was the same letter...

    I love this art piece, very clever. Nice clear walkthrough, thank you! I am thinking of scaling it down for my 3 kids' rooms, probably using the mini strand Christmas lights. Very cool project, thanks for sharing.

    Very nice job! A suggestion for the future: Since you went thru the trouble of laying it out in Autocad, you could have printed out the drawing to make a template, fix it to the MDF with repositional spray mount, and used the lines and drill points for reference while cutting, sanding, and drilling. That would have saved a lot of layout time, and eliminated errors. Even if you only have access to a 8 1/2 x 11 printer, you could have added some tick marks and quickly mated several pages to make your larger template. Great project, though!


    4 years ago

    Total cost was around £50 including the spray paint, so not too expensive. A dimmer socket is just a dimmer switch built into a plug, so you plug your lamp into the dimmer and then into the wall, but an inline dimmer would work just as well.


    4 years ago

    Love it! Will be doing this in my new apt. What was the total cost? What's a dimmer socket? I'm in the US and I've only heard of a dimmer switch for hard wired lighting. I suppose you could add an in-line dimmer.


    4 years ago

    I haven't mounted it on the wall yet, but I'll mount it with a small angle bracket to hook over a screw in the wall. And to keep all the sockets from hitting the wall I will just have to add some spacer blocks of wood to the back.

    Very cool project. Did you end up mounting it on the wall? And if so, how did you do that with the sockets in the back?

    Well Done.
    Nice work with paint. It so easy to make and looks awesome.

    Looks good. Think I might have to steal this idea! Great job on the walk-through!