Introduction: Beautify Your CFLs With Bright Idea Shades (steal This Idea!)

About: +Eyebeam R&D OpenLab & Production Intern ++Bands Coordinator for Bennington College, Bennington VT +++A/V Technician for Bennington College, Bennington VT ++++Freelance Content and Research Assi…
This Instructable was inspired by Dan'sUniversal lamp shade polygon building kit.

We recently installed new compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in our workspace. They use less energy and last longer, but they're painfully I adapted Dan's Instructable for CFLs using heat resistant photo gels. This custom build attaches directly onto the end of the bulb so no extra materials are needed.

A lot of offices have been replacing silver tipped incandescent bulbs with CFLs w/o taking into the account the harsh effect the bare bulb has. This idea hopefully solves that. Oh yeah and its all open source. So steal this idea and make it better!

Production by Simon Jolly
Soundtrack by I Am Jen (
SteveTouch(TM) by Steve Lambert
Project by Michael Mandiberg and the Eyebeam OpenLab

Step 1: Materials: What You'll Need

This Instructable has two methods of construction and assembly. You may either build your lamp shade by hand or if you have access to one, use a laser cutter. Whichever method you choose, the materials remain relatively the same.

For the lamp shades we used to two materials commonly used by the photo industry to diffuse light without risking fire:

Rosco Cinegel #3000 - Tough Rolux : reduces overall glare by diffusing the harsh direct light into a glow.

Rosco Cinegel #3403 - Rosco N.6 : for the front most panels reducing the glow (by 2 stops on a camera)

Both materials are available from B&H in sheets or very long rolls. Unless your making a huge amount of these we recommend you just get a sheet of each.

Step 2: Using Your Hands

Making one of these by hand is a piece of cake.

All you'll need are the two gels mentioned in Step 1

1 pair of sharp scissors.

1 fine tipped BLACK pen.

1 fine tipped WHITE pen (this is crucial for cutting Rosco N.6 as it is extremely dark in colour)

1 modern computer w/ a printer (don't worry this is just to print out the pattern).

1. First, you'll need to print out the pattern provided below. Notice there are two patterns, one with a hole in the center, one without. You will only cut the hole once per shade, so you can mount it on your light bulb socket screw later.

2. Once you've printed it. Cut the shape out with a pair of scissors.

3. Trace it 12 times onto a sheet Tough Rolux. For the 12th trace use the pattern w/ a hole in the center.

4. Trace the plain pattern on a sheet of Rosco N.6 5 times.

5. Now, carefully cut each shape out with a pair of scissors. To cut a hole in the last (end) module, gently fold it in half and cut it you would a snow-flake decoration.

6. Now that you've cut all your parts, you can assemble them. For assembly skip ahead to step 4.

Step 3: Using a Laser Cutter

These directions are intended for use in cutting with Universal Laser Systems 60W laser and CorelDraw12:

Each lamp shade is made of 12 polygon shapes 1 with a hole in the middle to fit the light bulb screw. 5 additional "shades" cover the front 5 polygons to reduce glare further.

To make your life easier we've included power/speed presets in our Bright Idea Shade Laser Cutting Kit (DOWNLOAD HERE). However each laser cutter is different, and thus our presets might not be compatible with your driver. Hence, we've included them as text below:

Each Polygon has little sections colored in ((RED)) make sure these are set to SKIP in your printer preferences. These are small sections keep the polygons from getting sucked up by your exhaust system. The everything colored in ((BLACK)) gets cut or VECTORed. Here are our settings for each material:

Rosco N.6 filters:
For the color BLACK
power: 7%
speed: 10%
PPI: 500
For the color RED

Rosco Rolux 3000:
For the color BLACK
power: 10%
speed: 10%
PPI: 500
For the color RED:

First, Download bright_idea_laser_kit.ziphere and unzip it. Inside you will find all the files you need.

1. Load rolux_kit.cdr in CorelDraw12. Print
2. Go to the "File" and select "Print". Under "Print", select your laser cutter. Then click "Properties". This is where you will dictate your power/speed settings per color.
3. Either "Load" our power settings (rolux.las) or manually enter them in from above. Make sure BLACK is the only color selected to VECT (cut) and all other colors should read SKIP on the left column.
4. Now your ready to print (cut). Click "OK". And click "Print".
5. The computer will send your file along to the Laser Cutter.
6. Place your material : Rosco Cinegel #3000 Tough Rolux on the Laser Cutter Bed and tape it down at the corners, otherwise it will fly up with the wind from the exhaust fan.
7. With your exhaust turned on. Find your file on the laser cutter's LCD screen and press the START button to begin cutting.

Repeat these steps with r6_kit.cdr and r6.las (or settings above) for cutting the three Rosco N.6 panels. Same idea, just different power setting at %7.

Step 4: Assembly: Putting It All Together

Now that you've safely (laser or scissor) cut your shapes you can start assembling them.

Each panel has two types of tabs. Straight Tabs and Angled Tabs. As a general rule: like tabs hook up with like tabs. You should never be hooking a Straight Tab with an Angled one. Also, straight-sides always meet rounded ends.

1. Lay out gray (Rosco N.6) and white (Tough Rolux) panels and pair back to back (excluding panel with hole).

2. With gray and white panels paired back-to-back, interlock 3 straight-tabs in the center to create a pinwheel. Interlock the outer corresponding angled-tabs to complete a dimensional, three-sided pyramid.

3. Interlock rounded-ends of next three panels to straight-sides of pyramid.

4. As show below interlock additional three panels to the previous three. Again, each straight-side should meet each rounded-end and tabs should meet each like tab.

5. Construct another dimensional triangle. This time include the panel with a hole in the center. As before, connect straight-tabs at the center, and angled-tabs at the outer.

6. Interlock the second dimensional triangle anywhere on the peripheral of the construction thus far. So long as you join like tabs with like tabs and like sraight sides with round ends you should be fine.

7. At this point your construction should have a gentile curve to it. To complete the three-dimensional shape, connect each like tab with each like tab. Your completed shape should resemble a spheric-like-organic structure.

To install, simply remove the rear panel (the one w/ a hole in the center). Insert your bulb and re-interlock the panel with the hole fit around the screw socket end.