Introduction: Wire Flower Lamp

About: In which I turn the thoughts from my head into objects in my hands

Flower-making has been dominating my creative urges recently. My first was the Literary Light-Up Flower, which I made to test out flower-making from paper glued to a wire frame. The next flower was from Dyeing Paper: An Exploration, which was made to test out color blending with food coloring for the petals.

These previous flowers led to the ultimate flower #3: a floral lamp incorporating lessons learned from both processes. This one is for myself, but another one is already in the works for my mom; she's been wanting a nightlight of sorts back home. In any case, these make for great gifts for a special somebody (*cough Valentine's Day cough*). I've never gotten flowers, but I'm sure that given the choice I'd prefer flowers that, you know, don't perish after a week or two.

Step 1: Materials

  • wire (I used 19 gauge stainless steel wire, commonly used for sculpting clay.)
  • paper (book pages for me)
  • pliers
  • floral tape
  • hot glue
  • lamp
  • food coloring
  • cups

Step 2: Wire Petal Frames

Take your wire and make petal shapes like the ones in the first picture above. Unlike my previous petal frames, there is no 8 inches of wire protruding from the petals to make a stem; instead, there's only about an inch of wire extra around the bottom of the petal. I had four similar, leaf-like shapes that were progressively bigger. My biggest was about 7 inches, but this depends on how big your lamp head is. I really liked the result from grouping petals in threes (each layer consists of a trio) so again, I made three of each shape. In addition to the leaf-like shapes, I made three stamen-like shapes (long rod with bulb on top, see fifth picture above) that were 2 inches longer than my largest petal.

With each leaf-like petal, grasp the tip between your fingers and pinch together to get a fatter bulge at the bottom of the petal leading to a pointed tip. The ideal shape is depicted in the fourth picture above.

Step 3: Gluing

Take a petal and put it on top of your paper of choice; the last pages of my used book, in my case. Trace the petal with your glue before filling in that outline. Add another piece of paper on top to sandwich your wire between the paper and glue.

Repeat for all your petals, and wait for COMPLETE drying (at least 3 hours; don't rush!) before trimming around the shapes.

Step 4: Dyeing

Grab your food coloring and make cups of blue and purple colored water. For coloring the petals, I used a spray bottle to apply blue at the middle and purple at the tips (I didn't like the green tips in my previous flower, since I associate green with a stem). I also used a finger (see sixth picture above) to spread the color more precisely. I waited for the blue to dry before applying purple so that the colors wouldn't mix too much from diffusion except at the overlapping parts. Also, I hung the petals tip pointed up when applying blue so that the blue would concentrate at the bottom, whereas I hung the petals tip pointed down when applying purple so that the purple would concentrate at the tip.

The ombre effect wasn't so strong with my mixtures this time around, so I applied two layers of each color, adding food coloring (more blue in the blue mixture) to intensify the color where I wanted. In essence, I applied one coat of blue, followed by one coat of purple. Then I added a coat of a darker blue (adding food coloring to my blue water) closer to the bottom and another coat of a redder purple at the tips.

All this need for darker color is not just redundancy; the lighting will mellow out your colors so that instead of a deep blue, you'll have a lighter shade. Thus, I ended up with a brighter blue and scarlet purple than I would have liked (overzealous with the coloring..) but with the lamp is turned on, the shades look gorgeous.

Step 5: Lighting

For the light source, I opted for a cheap USB LED lamp from Ikea. I wanted a gooseneck for a more organic effect in the stem, but I also liked the USB part because I can easily plug it into the wall via a phone charger with USB port, or I could plug it into an external power source for portable beauty. Choose whatever you have on hand, but make sure that it is compatible size-wise with the petals you made; if the bulb is too small (diameter of bulb should be at least twice as big as the width of your smallest petal, as a rough rule of thumb) for your petals, it will be very difficult to arrange your petals around the small head. Being too big isn't too big of an issue, as you can make more petals to cover all surface area.

Before starting, I covered up the original black color of the lamp with my floral tape to make the lamp blend in more with my final flower design.

Step 6: Stamen

Take your three stamen-like shapes and curve them into a suitably organic shape (up to your discretion, but see above for my example) Arrange them 120 degrees to each other around the bulb of your lamp to test your shaping. Use floral tape to secure in place; be sure to wrap tightly so that the petals don't wiggle around! It will be quite tricky, as the inch of extra wire for each petal is all that you can use to secure the petal. If they wiggle a bit, don't worry too much, as more wrapping later will help keep them in place. Do worry if they are flopping around though!

Step 7: First Layer of Petals

Grap your petals and bend them into a nice shape, arranging them around the bulb of the lamp to see what works best. I made mine into a deep S shape; as the layers progress, your petals won't be able to make such deep S shapes since other petals will take up more space, so start off with as deep an S as possible. Arrange them staggered between the stamen before wrapping in place with floral tape.

Note: be careful with your petal arrangement and shaping in future steps. For me this was more of a decorative rather than functional lamp, so I didn't mind that my petals blocked the light source and created shadows. If you're aiming for functionality, however, I suggest that you avoid having your petals meet that the center/cover the bulb as much as possible, and thus you should avoid deep S curves in your petals. Curve OUTward rather that Inward to avoid blocking light.

Step 8: Second Layer of Petals

Your next petals will still have an S shape, but the S, like I mentioned, won't be as deep of an S curve. Wrap in place as you like; for me, I put them between a stamen and petal from the first layer (see second picture above for what I mean).

I also added a picture of the backside so you can see how your progress might look like.

Step 9: Third Layer of Petals

Now that the bulb is getting bigger from the presence of more petals, hot glue will be necessary for holding the petals in place while wrapping. Add your next petals as you like, though for me I arranged them between the second layer of petals and a stamen (see first picture above). Hot glue the extra wire protruding from the petal before wrapping over it to secure in place.

Step 10: Fourth Layer of Petals

For the final layer, I used the hot-glue-and-wrap technique again to secure the petals. I arranged the fourth layer of petals between a stamen and the third layer of petals.

Once finished, be sure to wrap around all the petals PLENTY of times in floral tape to secure everything in place.

Step 11: Finale

Depending on the lamp you have, you may want to wrap your stem in floral tape. It will help incorporate the petals into the lamp design more smoothly, not to mention make the bulge at the top look more normal with the uniform color of the lamp.

There you have it; a nice new lamp to light up your life! Have fun, enjoy, and as always feel free to comment with questions or critique.

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