Introduction: Exploding Lamp

I've always loved lamps. Anything that lights up, or glows in an unusual way is enjoyable to me. This piece of art is one of the most deceptively simple and pleasing visualizations I've seen. The magic doesn't come alive until the very end of the process when you put a light inside and flip the switch. The effect is even more extreme in photos and videos.

I'm going to show you how to make your very own exploding lamp. Well, at least the explodey part. The rest of the lamp structure is up to you but you really don't need anything more. Once you have the basic idea down, you'll be able to scale this up or down to almost any size you want and it works wonderfully for dioramas and model making miniatures too.


  • chicken wire
  • polyfil polyester fill
  • wire cutters
  • spray paint - yellow,red,orange,black
  • light source for inside, preferably LED

Step 1: The Base

This lamp is going to be a mushroom shaped explosion. Start off by cutting 2 sheets of chicken wire. The first one is going to be rolled into a tube. This will be the stem part of the shape so the dimensions of your tube will determine the height and the diameter of your base. Twist the ends of the wires you cut to fasten the tube to itself. Think about your dimensions beforehand. Make sure you have enough room to reach inside if you are going to be using a full size lightbulb.

Step 2: The Cap

Once you have your base set up, take a larger square shaped sheet of chicken wire and press the edge near the top of your tube. Begin twisting the wires together to attach the 2 sheets. Go all the way around. At this point you'll probably notice that this doesn't look like a rounded cap. We'll take care of that in a second.

Now might be the time to plan how you're going to light the inside. If you're using something like an LED strip, you may want to set it up at this point in time while the inside is easily accessible. If you want to use a normal lightbulb this part can wait.

Fasten the free edges of your top sheet together. Once everything is connected, wrestle and bend the sheet into a shape that pleases you. You don't need to be precise. You should now have a wireframe model of something resembling broccoli.

Step 3: Fill

Get your bag of poly fill and pull out a bunch of golf ball sized pieces. You are going to need one piece for each of the holes in the chicken wire. Now push these pieces into the openings. No glue, no adhesive, just press fit the wads of filling into the gaps.

Work your way around making sure to fill all the gaps. Don't worry if you can still see some wire in a few places.

There! If you stop now, you've just made a cloud lamp! But we're going the extra mile for something a little more impressive.

Step 4: Paint

Heavily spray paint the outside with yellow paint. Give it a good coat but don't worry if you miss a few spots. You want the paint to have variations. Once the yellow dries, spray it with orange, then let it dry and do the same with the red using fairly heavy coats.

Once the red is dry you should have pretty strange looking puff ball. At this point, light up your lamp and use black to highlight the parts of the poly fill that protrude the most. Look at some photos of explosions if you need inspiration.

Step 5: Finish!

Set up a fun scene and take some photos or videos using this awesome effect!

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If you have any thoughts or ideas feel free to share them in the comments.

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