Spherical Cardboard Lamp

Picture of Spherical Cardboard Lamp
1. Acquire enough cardboard to create 32 11" square pieces

2. Head over to to download the laser template files or SphereGen.exe which will generate the templates for you. SphereGen lets you specify your cardboard thickness, desired width, height, and how much each layer should overlap adjacent layers. If you'll be using the Ikea "Hemma" cord set as your light fixture, the inner diameter should be 1.575 inches.

3. Laser cut all the rings

4. Sort the rings from smallest to largest. (There will be duplicates for most rings because they appear on the top and bottom halves.)

4b. (Optional) Stack the rings to get a feel for how it will look and play with different designs, like rotating each layer slightly to create a corrugation spiral effect.

5. Break out the Elmer's glue and start gluing layers to one another. Be careful to make sure that each layer is centered and you aren't slowly drifting away from the center.

6. Once the glue dries, treat the entire lamp with "No-Burn", a fire retardant spray. I found a bottle for $18 on Amazon. Just to play it safe, I also recommend using a LED light bulb to ensure the cardboard never becomes hot. (Although this is probably unnecessary -- after being lit by a traditional 60w incandescent bulb for half an hour my lamp's interior remained cool to the touch.)

7. Once dry, attach light fixture. I used an Ikea "Hemma" cord set which only costs $5.

8. Plug it in and enjoy!

If you enjoyed this project, please vote for it in the Hurricane Lasers contest above.
geokaren1 year ago
so you need a laser printer or die cutter to do this?
nthomas121 year ago
Nice instructions, I had students, 1 semester, making functional objects out of paper products, and got several cardboard lamps of various shapes and sizes. I've also seen them for sale for exorbitant amounts of money. Of course we didn't have access to a laser, so they were all hand cut, or scroll-saw cut!!! :)
Oh my god this is gorgeous! I was thinking it looked like Jupiter too.
Denger1 year ago
Is there a template set available for those who would like to build this design 'old school': that is, using a craft knife instead of a laser? Cool design and a nice 'structable, btw!
You could make a template.

I'd use a dowel rod, a nail, a pencil, and a clamp.
Put the nail in at one end (all the way through), and clamp the pencil at various measured lengths. Put the nail into the cardboard, and push the pencil side all the way around. repeat with the pencil at different spots to mark the spots to cut.

Hopefully i worded that in a way that makes sense...
Robizzle01 (author)  Denger1 year ago
There isn't, but if you open one of the svg files in a text editor, like notepad, you'll see that the file format is quite human-readable. Each circle is defined like so:

You can ignore cx and cy -- those are just the center coordinates of the circle*. The interesting bit is r, which is the radius. That should be all you need to reconstruct the templates using a compass and then you can craft knife away**.

I recommend starting with the center layers and working your way outward. This way you can stack the rings as you go. As you approach the light-hole on the bottom you can visually look at the sphere and decide when you want to stop.

I do recommend running spheregen.exe to generate the template files if you are doing this by hand because it is going to be a very time consuming process and you'll want it to look perfect when you're done. My templates were generated to use 0.17" thick cardboard, but if the cardboard you're using varies, even slightly, you'll end up with an ovid instead of a sphere.

*All circles have the same center. Laser cutters don't actually care about them, but it made viewing the svg files in internet explorer easier for me.)

**My unskilled self tried to do this originally with an exacto knife but I found that it crushed the cardboard. Getting a really perfectly circular line was also difficult.
Well, as Dr. Theodore H. Mainan, who developed the first working optical laser in 1960 supposedly stated, lasers really have been a “solution in search of a problem.” They seem to do very well at each of the applications for which they've been developed. Now all I need to do is get one added as a line item on the family budget!
Robizzle01 (author)  Robizzle011 year ago
Unfortunately instructables stripped out my XML snippet from above. I'll just remove the angular brackets and hope this works:

circle cx="6in" cy="6in" r="5.498in" stroke="black" stroke-width="0.1" fill="none" /
Dr. P1 year ago
Wow! That's beautiful! Let us know if Ikea calls you to design for them.
That looks awesome! Did you purposefully put the pieces together in such a way to very how the wavy the corrugated cardboard shows? (If that makes sense)
Oh, duh! I guess I missed that step since it was optional! I love how you arranged it :)
Robizzle01 (author)  Penolopy Bulnick1 year ago
Thanks! If I recall, I used a 15-degree rotation between each layer.
useraaaaa1 year ago
burn baby burn.. oh no. LED saves the world!
rrkrose1 year ago
WOW! I can't believe that this is made of cardboard!
l8nite1 year ago
Welcome to the insane world of instructables posters ! This is a totally awesome project !
Congrats on posting your first Instructable! You should mention it here for the chance to win a robot t-shirt. 

I really like this, the picture makes it look like Jupiter :)

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