Introduction: 'Space Age' Altar Lamp With Interchangeable Transparency Silhouettes

"No I'd rather go and journey where the diamond crescent's glowing and run across the valley, beneath the sacred mountain and wander through the forest, where the trees have leaves of prisms and break the light in colors that no one know the names of..." (The Byrds)

To me, an altar is a place where you place objects that reflect what's important to you, it does not necessarily have to be a place of religion (although it can be)... it's a place of personal value.

This lamp is inspired on the silhouette lamps that can be found in waldorf schools; these lamps have a different silhouette transparancy for every season and every festive event throughout the schoolyear, to make the children familiar with the cycle of the year.

I wanted to make a smaller lamp that can hold small silhouettes of symbols and archetypal images that people feel connected to and like to have present in their personal space.

Since nature is important to me my silhouette and/or transparency slides will hold images that reflect nature.

My first silhouette is of a tree, a symbol that translates our strong connection to the earth and our reaching out to everything beyond of which we are also a part.

When I look at this silhouette, the quote above springs to mind, almost as if it's a glyph transcending the very same feeling... ofcourse this is my personal interpretation, the reason that I'm sharing this is that I would like to illustrate that this lamp is to enhance ones personal experience of believe in the widest sense of the word.

I wanted the lamp to have an organic appearance, I enjoy looking at organic shapes and structures and like the playful space age design of the 60's and 70's:)

Step 1: Materials for the Lamp

We'll start with what you will need for the lamp, the materials for the silhouettes will follow later:

- an empty drink carton,the one I used is a 2 liter (0US gal lqd 4.226753US pt lqd) carton

- 2 rolls of toilet paper

- aluminium foil

- paper mache glue powder

- white wood glue

- super glue (or hot glue)

- a stand for the lamp ( a sheet of wood or a tile for instance)

- paint (I used acrylic paints; burnt sienna, naphthol red, naples yellow)

- gesso

- acrylic gel medium

- (semi) translucent mosaic stones, gems or marbles

- a few tablespoons of sand

- 1 or more sheets of wool felt

- LED light(s)

Step 2: Shape Your Lamp

Draw the shape of the opening that you want to cut, remember leave enough space on the sides to hide the border of the silhouette/transparency, also draw some small circles on the sides where you want the light to shine trough and a slit on one side big enough for the silhouette to slide in, again; think of the border...make sure it is big enough for the whole slide including the border.

When you have drawn all the shapes mentioned above, cut them out with the use of a hobbyknive.

In this case there is a piece of plastic with a lid on the top of the carton from which you can pour the drink.

I cut a hole on the other side of the top of the carton which mirrors this opening, after that I took the lid of and cut the top of, as you can see on the picture, then I glued the lid on top of the hole, creating a similar shape as the drink pouring opening.

After this I glued the stand to the bottom of the carton, this is the stand of an old coffee grinder which I had laying around, ofcourse it is not very likely that you have one as well, so just look for (or create) something with a similar shape.

When the glue has dried, wrap the whole shape with aluminium foil.

Make little rings of aluminium foil and glue them around the holes in the sides.

Step 3: Prepare the Paper Mache

Tear the toilet paper into small pieces (the smaller the better) and put it into a large pan.

Pour water onto the paper until all of it is fully covered.

Put the pan on the stove and boil for at least an hour.

If you want the paper mache to be smooth, use a blender (at your own risk), I wanted mine to be coarse to create an organic look so I didn't use a blender.

Spread out an old dish washing towel in the sink and gently pour the water and paper onto the towel.

Squeeze out most of the water and put the paper back into the pan or into a bowl.

Add glue powder (several tablespoons) and knead as if it were cakedough (it's a good idea to wear dish washing gloves), then add several tablespoons of white wood glue (this makes the end result stronger, harder and more water resistant), knead again and roll it into a ball, leave for about 30 minutes in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.

Step 4: Sculpt Your Lamp :)

Start sticking the paper mache to the sides of the shape and smooth it out with your fingers until you don't see any aluminium foil anymore, that's really all there is to it, have fun!

Leave to dry.

Step 5: Ground-it.

Mix gesso with a random brownish paint and apply it to the lamp,make sure you get it into all the little holes and crevasses.

Step 6: Time to Paint!

Cut a circle out of a normal householdsponge, round off the sides.

Mix gesso with acrylic paints of your choice (I used a lot of burnt sienna, a bit of naphthol red an a little bit of naples yellow), poor a couple of tablespoons of sand through a sieve and add to the paint, stir well and start applying the mixture with a sponge.

Keep on sponging layer after layer until you think you're done or you run out of mixture.

Let it dry.

Step 7: Add Mosaic

Spread out your mosaic, gems, nuggets, marbles... anything translucent really.

Fit several stones into the holes to see which fit best and what color combinations work best.

When you've figured it out, smear some gelmedium onto the holes, lay in the stones and cover them with gelmedium, let it dry out.

You can also use glue if you want to if you can make the stones fit well.

If you are not going to use the felt circles, do not use gel medium, because it will show... it will make a strong connection however.

Step 8: Wooley Mooley

Cut circles out of sheets of wool felt, cut small circles the size of your mosaic stones in the middle of these circles, try them for size and move them around to see how they look on different locations, when you're satisfied with the result glue them onto the lamp.

Step 9: Materials for the Silhouettes

You will need;

- empty drink cartons

- cardstock

- silk paper or other semi translucent paper in various colors

- tracing paper

- super glue

Step 10: Cut It Out!

Trace the form of the front opening of the lamp onto a piece of cardstock to determine the right size for the silhouette slide.

Draw your design on the cardstock you want for your silhouette and cut it out with a hobbyknive.

Cut the same sized border (without silhouette) out of a piece of drink carton which you will have cleaned and dried before doing this.

Cut a piece of tracing paper the same size as the silhouette and the border.

Now start glueing the semi translucent silk paper to the back of your silhouette with super glue, do not use water based glue because the colors will run!

When your work of art is finished, glue the silhouette, the tracing paper and the drink carton border together, the silhouette goes upfront, the tracing paper in the middle and the drink carton border on the back.

Your silhouette is now ready to slide into your lamp :D

Step 11: Light

Put the light into your lamp, I used a string of LEDs (duct taped it to the inside of the lamp).

Some lights might generate some heat, so do not leave this paper lamp unattended.

Step 12: All Done!

I hope you had fun with this!

I will make more silhouettes to put into this lamp in the future, maybe even do an instructable on making silhouettes/transparencys? We'll see.

Paper Contest 2018

Participated in the
Paper Contest 2018

Trash to Treasure

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Trash to Treasure