Many thanks to fungus amungus for his collaboration and help on this project.
Step 1: Materials
- fabric stiffener (1 16oz. bottle per lamp that you'd like make)
- large spherical party balloons (can be gotten at a party shop in the 16" or 3' sizes)
- crochet thread or thin cotton yarn
- lamp cord set (Ikea sells the HEMMA for $3.99 that will work great)
- rubber gloves
- newspaper (it makes a bit of a mess)
Step 2: Inflate
Then, secure one end of the crochet thread to the knot on the balloon by either loosely tying it, or taping it into place. We didn't tie it because we're gonna need to get back into the balloon later...like I said.
Step 3: Saturate thread with fabric stiffener
To really coat the thread well we found that you need to allot around an entire 16 oz. bottle of fabric stiffener per lamp globe.
You can either pre-soak the thread and then wind the balloon with wet thread, which will ensure that every piece of thread is properly saturated with stiffener. Or, if you are afraid of making a mess, you can wrap the balloon with dry thread, and then dredge/brush the balloon in the stiffener once it has been wrapped.
If you choose to go the clean road, just really try to soak the thread well and make sure that you've got enough fabric stiffener to thoroughly coat the whole balloon. It takes more than you'll think!
In the project video and photos below Ed and I are using the pre-soak, wet wrap method to ensure total saturation and coverage.
Step 4: Wrap the thread around the balloon
Once you've worked in one area a bit, move on to another. You're trying to get an even covering of string around the balloon.
Step 5: Over-inflate the balloon
The balloon has a tendency to shrink as the fabric stiffener dries, so we want to fill it up as much as possible to keep things from getting wrinkly and sagging over the 24-hour drying process.
Step 6: Dry
Hot air expands, so heat = a tight balloon. I cranked up my electric heater and put a small fan in there too to circulate the air. This method worked well.
I'm pretty adamant about the importance of this step and here's why...the first two globes that I made just dried in my living room, and throughout the course of the night (cold), next day (warmer) and then night (cold) when they were finally dry, the balloon had changed volumes multiple times and distorted the sphere significantly.
Step 7: Remove the balloon
First, pop the balloon with a pin. If you're lucky, it will naturally start to shrink away from the string. If not, you've got to start poking at it with a long object. We used a screwdriver. Bit by bit it will come away from the string and pretty soon it will come completely free.
Cut the strings around the top that are holding it in place and pull it out.
Step 8: Cut a hole and insert the bulb
Step 9: Stopper
The easiest thing we came up with was to drill a small hole in the little plastic thing that manages the cable on the Ikea lamp and use some fishing line to tie the plastic cable manager to the top of the globe.
You can also use some bailing wire that's been wrapped around the cord and then bent out into two little prongs to hold up the globe. This is the method that is shown in the video. There are probably many different ways to attach the globe to the fixture.
Once the globe is affixed to the fixture, it's ready to hang and light up your life!