Introduction: Shadow-Puppet Lava Lamp

About: Bright ideas for makers and geeks…

This a (mini) mechanical shadow-theatre that recreates a lava lamp, but using only lights and shadows !

The blobs of lights are slowly moving up across the paper screen, appearing, changing shape, merging... It is strangely mesmerizing.

I made a short video to explain the design process:


This project will require about 150 grams of 3D printing filament.

You will also need a few extra components to build it (affiliated links):

Step 1: 3D Printed Components

You can download the .stl files on this webpage.

It should take about 24 hours and 150 grams of filament to 3D print everything.

Step 2: Prepare the Motor Gearwheel

Cut the branch of the minutes hand to keep only the central part. I would suggest to slide it on a screwdriver at this stage: it will make life a ton easier when applying the glue. Then super-glue it to the inside face of the 3D printed component "motor_wheel.stl" (see pictures). Make sure that the hole for the clock axis is perfectly centered with the hole in the 3D part !

Step 3: Assembly

The assembly is fairly straightforward: simply follow the instructions in the pictures.

Note: if you have wingnuts, I would recommend to use them for the screws shown in pictures 6 and 7. They are not really necessary to build this contraption. But they will make your life easier when you'll want to change the paper screen, or to disassemble this device for transport.

Step 4: Paper Screen

Download the pdf file, and print it without re-scaling it.

Cut the hexagonal shape and then insert it between the two 3D printed hexagons.

Step 5: Tadam !

Just add a AA battery to the clock movement and connect the USB light to a power source (it is a very low power lamp, so any phone charger or USB hub should do).

Et voila !

Make it Move Contest 2020

Participated in the
Make it Move Contest 2020