I'm not a narcissist, but this lamp--inspired by the natural form of the boulder and man's ability to shape it--feels prideful and egotistical. I mean, it's a glowing rock! If you're different and you love it, why not indulge in a little pride here and there? Giving yourself some love lightens up your world, and now it lightens up your room as well!
It may look like it weighs a couple hundred pounds, but, made entirely out of foam, this sculptural lamp is great for those who want to get that brutalist feel without the heavy lifting.
Step 1: How Big Do You Like It?
Mine is five-and-a-half feet long, but I'm not bragging. Some like it longer, some like it shorter. In case you want to save some money or plan on moving a lot in the near future, here's a little guide--because size matters.
The Pros and Cons of Having a Long Rock
+ It looks freakin' awesome
+ It creates more light
+ It uses more materials (foam, paint, and LED strips)
- It may need a bigger, heavier base
The Pros and Cons of Having a Short Rock
+ It looks pretty cute
+ It can fit on a night stand
+ It uses less materials (if it's short enough, you can make many)
- It's not as satisfying as a big one
Step 2: Get the Stuff
- Foamular Pink Insulation Foam (4' x 8' x 2"+)($20 - $60)
- Black Spray Paint (x3) ($10 - $20)
- Super 77 Spray Adhesive ($10)
- Straight-Cutting Tools (I have access to a woodshop)
- Hot Wire Foam Knife (Also from the woodshop)
- LED Strips ($60 - Though I've heard they are much cheaper online)
Step 3: Measurements and Cutting
15" x 15" Squares (x6) - This is the base. Each square is 2" thick, so six of these add a total of one foot to the overall height of the light.
9" x 4' 6" Planks (x2) - I wanted them to be long and narrow.
10.5" x 9" Top (x1) - This depends on how much spacing you want in the middle, between the two planks.
Step 4: Gluing
After the squares are cut, apply the super 77 onto each square and stack them. Read the directions on the can first, of course.
Step 5: Pulling Out the Hot Knife
If you've never cut foam before, try it out on a scrap piece until you get the hang of it. It's very easy and quite fun, but it's important not to breathe the fumes. They stink and are poisonous. I did not have a proper filtered mask, so I just held my breathe every time I cut the foam.
Before you start cutting away, it helps to position your planks onto the square stack and mark their space, so that you don't cut into it with the foam knife. Afterwards, start cutting! It helps to have reference photos of what stones can look like. I was trying to get as many jagged edges as I could. Randomness adds to the realism.
Step 6: Painting
The first image of the foam is spray paint directly on foam. The second image is sprayed onto foam that has been covered with a bit of Minwax Polycrylic. It allows you to get a smooth finish, but I did not have enough time (this was a school project) and I decided to spray directly on the foam. On the good side, it gave it somewhat of a rocky texture!
I attempted to make the rock look realistic, but eventually decided to color it all black for a more serious and abstract look. There are many YouTube videos and forum discussions about this type of visual effect, but practice is something you can't get from watching.
I attached the planks to the rock after painting them both due to the high winds I was experiencing. Since it's tall and made of foam, it is likely to fall over when you're not looking. It's possible to add a reinforcement to the base (a metal square), but otherwise it is not necessary and is unlikely to fall over on its own indoors.
Step 7: Attaching the LEDs
The sticker backing on the LED strip is not strong enough to stay on, so I used some of those little brackets used to keep wires attached to a surface.
The LEDs that I was able to find were only eight feet long, and due to the height of my lamp, it was not enough to reach all the way down. However, it still looks great.
Again, this was a somewhat rushed project, so the way I connected the LEDs and problem-solved along the way were just quick and easy solutions. I even stole an extra LED connector from Home Depot because they didn't sell any individual ones! (for some reason the box of LEDs I bought only contains one connector.) For those of you who had time and want to make this really well, it might be worth getting corner connectors. They don't have wiring in the middle, and do great for 90 degree turns as is demanded by the shape of this light.
Step 8: There It Is
In all of its rough glory. The real fun part of this project is perfecting in it, and sometimes that is something we must do ourselves. What I've provided here is a start, and I hope you perfect and modify as you see fit.
I've decided to leave mine as-is to focus on other projects, but it's standing in my room right now and I am enjoying its presence immensely. It smells of spray-paint, so that's not too fun, but the vibe it brings to my room is awesome and very enjoyable. I can only imagine how much cooler it would be if made properly!