Introduction: Silhouette Lamp

About: I love creating. I love ART in all its forms. I am a daughter of the 50s, born in 1992. I had the pleasure to be a Featured Author on this fabulous site, and you can read my interview here: https://www.instr…

As many of you know, I love making lamps :)
I've been dreaming about making new lamps for a while, but my home is so full of lamps now that I kept myself from making another one...but the problem is that once you get addicted to making lamps, you can hardly stop!

So here I am with a new lamp!

I decided to use a fun technique to fuse plastic bags that I recently learned here: Fusing Plastic Bags- the eclipse way
I thought it was really interesting and I wanted to try it to make a lampshade.

What's fun about this lampshade is that you can use any picture you like, even one that you took!
And why not, even your own silhouette!! :D
One of the greatest (yet craziest) ideas that came to my mind is to make a whole series of lamps like this one, using different pictures, to tell a story...
I can't do this now but let me know how it turns out if you try it! :)

I always recommend using LED light bulbs or at least low-energy light bulbs, especially the cold light ones. So, be careful!

Step 1: What You Need

  • cardboard
  • white plastic bags (and a black one if you prefer - see Step 2)
  • black acrylic paint
  • cotton thread
  • hot glue
  • double sided tape
  • parchment paper
  • bulb and bulb holder
  • cutter/scissors
  • iron
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • compass

Step 2:

First of all you have to find a picture you like with a recognizable silhouette.
I chose one with a butterfly sitting on a flower. You can download it from the pictures above if you like it.
Print the picture on paper.

Take your plastic bags and cut its handles and the end out.
Now you have a cylinder that you can cut to obtain a long sheet of plastic.

Place the picture under the plastic sheet and follow it as a guide to draw a rectangle.
The rectangle will be the frame of the picture: I made it a total of 4cm (1.57 inches) bigger on the longest sides and 10cm (3.93 inches) on the others.

Make other 2 rectangles this way: you'll need 3.

*You are going to paint one of rectangles in black in the next steps, so you could use a black plastic bag instead.
I didn't have one so I had to paint it and the final effect was really it's up to you!

Step 3:

Attach the picture on a surface that you can use to cut on. I used sticky pads that are easily removable, but you can use simple scotch tape.
Place one of your plastic rectangles on top (the black one if you decided to use it) and attach it too, trying to keep the plastic as tight as possible.

What you have to do now is cutting the outline of the picture using a cutter.
If you prefer, you can trace it using a pencil first.
Try to be as accurate as possible...take your time!

ps: I know this step would have been much easier using a laser cutter, but we (at least I) can't have everything! :D

Step 4:

If you, like me, used a white plastic bag for your picture, it's time to paint it!

I first tried the acrylic on another piece of plastic using a simple paint brush, but I didn't like effect because the brush would leave unaesthetic lines on the plastic.
For this reason, I decided to dab on the plastic using a pad made of upholstery foam. You can see how I made it on Step 4 here.
Keep dabbing to cover the whole surface.

In case you think that it's not yet covered enough, let it dry and pass another layer of paint.

Step 5: Ironing

This probably sounds difficult but don't worry!

Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper. They must be big enough to cover your plastic rectangles.

Prepare your table placing one of your parchment paper sheets on it.
Add a white plastic rectangle on it and the black one on top.
Finally, add the other piece of parchment paper.
The plastic must always be between the 2 sheets of parchment paper. Never let the iron touch the plastic.

Let's start fusing the pieces of plastic together!

You should set the iron on rayon, but this depends very much on your iron. So try to iron the paper with a lower temperature first.
If you notice that your 2 pieces of plastic are not fused yet, set the temperature to a higher level.
Pass and press the iron on both the front and back to make sure that the 2 pieces fuse perfectly.

Now remove the parchment paper on top and add your last plastic rectangle. You must fuse one at a time.
Place your parchment paper back on top and iron until you fuse everything together.

ps: ironing plastic may release some fumes so it's better to keep windows open during this step!

Finally fold the 2 opposite sides of your plastic rectangle for about 2cm (0.78 inches) on each side.
This will reduce the width of your rectangle so consider this measure from now on.

Step 6:

Let's prepare the structure that will keep your lampshade together now.

Take a piece of cardboard and draw a circle on it, using a compass.
Considering how large my piece of plastic is, I calculated the radius for my circle that turned out to be 8cm (3.14 inches).
Cut your circle and divide it in two to obtain 2 semicircles.

Trace the outline of one of the semicicles on cardboard and cut it too.
This way you'll have 3 semicircles.

Step 7:

Draw the outline of your bulb holder in the middle of one of your semicircles and cut it out.
This is the semicircle that will hold the bulb holder in your lamp.

Cut 2 strips of cardboard as long as your plastic rectangle height, which is 24cm (9.44 inches), and make them 2cm (0.78 inches) wide.

Step 8:

Now take 2 of your semicircles (the ones without the hole in the middle).
Glue one perpendicular to the end of the 2 strips of cardboard and the other on the other side - see pictures.
It's much easier to do than say! :D

Glue the last semicircle (the one with the hole) at about 3cm (1.18 inches) from one of the others.
This will be the bottom of your lamp.

Cut a small piece of cardboard 2x3cm (0.78 x 1.18 inches) and glue it between the 2 close semicircles to make sure that one doesn't move once the bulb holder will be in. 
I did this at the end because I noticed that it fell down with the bulb holder, but it's much better if you do this now.

Cut other 2 strips of cardboard 25,4 x 2 cm (10 x 0.78 inches) - 25,4cm is the width of my piece of plastic.
Try to bend them a little to give them a round shape.

Paint these pieces of cardboard in black, at least the visible parts.

Glue one of the strips on the first semicircle border (perpendicular) and glue the other to the one at the bottom.
Keep looking at the pictures to understand what I mean! :)

Step 9:

Stick 2 long pieces of double sided tape behind the 2 strips of cardboard that keep the structure together.

Place your plastic rectangle below the cardboard structure.
Make sure that the bottom of the structure and the bottom of the picture are on the same side.

Start sticking the part of the plastic rectangle you folded previously to one of the cardboard strips.

Turn the structure upside down and add pieces of double sided tape to the 2 strips you glued to the semicircles before.
Continue to attach your piece of plastic all around your structure, following the tape.
Try to keep the plastic as tight as possible.

Once you arrive to the other side of the lamp, stick the other folded side of the plastic to the second strip.

Step 10:

You are almost done...

What you need now is a way to hang your lamp to a wall.
So, find the middle point of the top semicircle using a ruler and a pencil and make a hole. If your semicircle is 8cm long (3.14 inches), the half is 4cm (1.57 inches).

Cut a piece of cotton thread (any color). It doesn't matter how long it is, as long as it's not too short!
Fold it in half and make a loop.
Make it pass through the hole you made in the cardboard and make a knot (or more than one) to secure it.

Insert the bulb and bulb holder in the lamp, hang it on the whole and... 

Enjoy your new lamp!

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