Introduction: One Dollar Trash Desk Lamp

For this instructable you will need the following (note that the shape, size, and style can change depending on how you create it yourself)

No cost, all of these materials can be found and salvaged


-Paper Pulp (Newspaper, water, bowl or container, elmer's glue, ink and/ or paint for coloring)

-Lamp base (pipe, wire mesh)

-lamp parts (bulb, wire, socket, electrical tape)


-if desired you can sand the paper structure in various ways. In this project I alternated between a dremel and various sandpapers.

Step 1: Wire the Lamp

In order to wire a lamp you must safely put all three components the wire, socket, and bulb together, binding it with electrical tape. You will also need pliars, and preferably an exacto knife.

First you need to expose the wires on both the cord and the socket by cutting off the surrounding plastic.

Then you will twist one wire from the socket to one wire from the cord and the same for the other two wires. You will need to separatly wrap these two strands in electrical tape because they cannot touch each other when plugged in.

After the socket and cord are safely connected, screw in the light bulb and test it by setting in on floor or the table and plugging the cord into an outlet.

Step 2: Create Paper Pulp

Tear a large amount of newspaper into small quarter size pieces and put them in a bowl, then add boiling water (which speeds up the degrading process) to the bowl until the paper is covered. Mix it together and let the mixture sit overnight. The next day mix it together with your hands and the pulp mixture will be finished.

When ready to sculpt, drain most of the water out with your hands, mix with elmurs glue and seal bowl until further use.

For this project I made two different colors, one was dark gray (which I made by adding some black ink), and the other was light gray (which I made by adding white acrylic paint).

Note: Takes around 6-10 hours to dry, faster with fan.

Step 3: Create a Base

Using an old pipe, dremel it in half to the height which you would like your lamp. Shape the wire mesh around the pipe in any form to your liking. This mesh will be used as a structure to cover with paper pulp and once the pulp is dry will be squished and then pulled out of the lamp, leaving a hollow core for the pipe.

Once you have your form add the paper pulp and allow it to dry. Once dry, twist and pull out the mesh, add pipe and seal the bottom with more pulp around the pipe so it is secure.

Step 4: Make and Sand Shade

To make the lamp shade blow up a balloon, cover with paper pulp, and allow to dry (6 hours minimum).

Once fully dry proceed to pop the balloon and slowly apply pressure to the balloon until it is fully deflated.

Sand the pulp shade to your liking with sandpaper or dremel tool.

Step 5: Add Light Fixture

Send the cord through the pipe of the base and the socket through a hole created in the shade, then screw in the bulb so the whole fixture is attached.

Step 6: Attach and Sand Shape

Once the light is installed in the fixture join the pieces with more paper pulp in any desired design, prop the piece for drying (so the bulb is elevated and the pulp can dry to hold it) and set aside for at least 8 hours to dry.

After the piece is dry you may sand and shape it to your liking.