The Afterglow Lamp (paper Mache and Recycled Materals)

Introduction: The Afterglow Lamp (paper Mache and Recycled Materals)

About: I am currently an 8th grade science teacher. (tough work but I love it). I have also taught 2nd grade and Kindergarten. I love art, creating things and NEW IDEAS. I never oppress new ideas and welcome them ...

Here you go folks, a DIY project anyone can do with cheap materials. This lamp is made mostly of items recycled around the house like an old basket or a flashlight.The icing on the cake is this lamp actually GLOWS at night when the light goes off! This gentle glow gives the lamp an elegant look and makes it ever so intriguing.

This Lamp is made completely from paper mache, a flashlight and cardboard. Your wallet will thank you. The lamp shade is a basket turned upside down and the light bulb is actually a re-used flashlight head. This project will take about 2 days only because the paper mache needs to dry and harden correctly. Everything else is easy and pretty much your own creative touch!

With a few items from your arts n' crafts bin, you can make incredible things! All it takes is a little creativity and a little time! Let's get started! :)

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Step 1: Gather Your Fun Materials!

Most items are RECYCLED! Hurray! Old newspaper, who needs that?? An old paper towel roll, old boxes. Yes! Have I ever mentioned my elation for the Dollar Store?? Because I will! You can find almost everything you need for this project at the dollar store. Your wallet is STILL smiling. However, some things.. like spray paint, a working flashlight etc.. will have to be bought elsewhere. You will save the most with the fake plants and vines that you can find at your local dollar store. Elsewhere, you will spend up to 40$ on fake plants alone. They may look a little better, but the price, at least in my opinion, is just ridiculous. Here is what you will need ;)

MATERALS and tools for the Lamp:

  • cardboard boxes
  • small basket
  • 4 large marbles
  • various fake plants
  • empty paper towel roll
  • glue gun
  • white spray paint (or any color you want)
  • Flashlight (with a bulb that can take 5 volts)
  • 24 gauge standard hook up wire
  • 5 volt DC wall adapter power supply
  • wire cutters


( you will be making this twice, thus ingredients are doubled as shown)

  • 2 bottles of glue
  • Newspaper
  • 2 cups of water

Step 2: Start at the Base

Lets start with the base. Trace a good size square out of your cardboard box. I did about 6" x 6". Cut it out, then cut out a bunch of smaller pieces that are also square. We will pile these up, one on top of the other, to give our base volume. Then simply poke a hole in the center with a sharp pencil. I know what you're thinking, it will be difficult, but it's not! The sharp pencil will go right through all the pieces like butter. Make the hole bigger by simply using closed scissors and wiggle them around in there. The hole must be big enough to fit wires through eventually.

glue all the cardboard pieces together with a glue gun. Make sure the holes line up! Then make your paper mache batch one!

Step 3: OK, Let's Paper Mache!

Paper mache is fun, easy and dirty! So get down with it because it ain't gonna be clean. It also takes foreverrr to dry, so be sure to start this early in the day to give it time to harden.

Make that Mache

  • Gather all your old newspapers, particularly those BORING articles. Tare the newspaper up into long strips of varying thicknesses. You will need varying thicknesses to cover different areas. Then start your paper mache batch one.
  • Mix one bottle of glue with one cup of water. Stir with a whisk (or your hand, lets be fun) until both are well combined. And in under a minute you have it!! Easy peasey.

Wrap that baby up

  • Dip a strip into the paper mache mixture and using your index finger and middle finger, run down the paper to remove excess mixture.
  • The strip is now sticky and ready to go. Like a sticky band-aid wrap strips all around the cardboard base we made earlier. Be sure to do at least 3 layers. I did 4 just to make sure it's sturdy; it is the base of the lamp after all. Also, make sure each layer is going opposite directions to give it even more stability when it dries.
  • Now we want to to make the neck sturdy. Take some more strips and cover the paper towel roll with about 2 layers. Again, make one layer vertical and one horizontal.

When both are covered in wet and sticky newspaper pieces, put them outside in the sun to dry. To cut drying time, try to put a fan on them outside. Tomorrow, you will combine both pieces after they have dried and hardened individually. Well why didn't you just combine them all together on the first day you ask? Well, when the pieces harden individually, they will give the lamp more stability in the long run. If I combined them all together on the first day, it could dry warped or could possibly break apart when I work on the lamp in the future. Taking no chances ;)

Step 4: Good Morning!

Good job, you waited the next day! The pieces have hardened up to all their paper mache glory. They are ready to be fused together. Heat up your glue gun and glue the two pieces together. Yes, they are stuck together, but we want to reinforce the bond. Time to make paper mache batch 2!

Using the same ingredients, one bottle of glue and one cup of water, make a mess again. Tare some more strips and wrap around the parts to be fused to truly give it a good seal.

And what next?? Why the sun of course. Time for the project to get a tan. Not really but it's time to dry, give it about 2 hours to dry and harden. The finished project will be a tight seal and Truly sturdy lamp base. Tadahh. It only gets better from here on, the creative stuff begins!

Step 5: Add Your Special Colors

Time to spray paint! Find a good spot where spray paint can't do any harm, we did by the trash cans... lol. Lay down newspaper if you wish to help protect any grass or plant life. You will probably want 3-4 layers of paint to get a rich color. Each layer will take about 5-10 minutes to dry on a sunny day. You don't want to continuously spray on the paint, because it will start to drip and parts will be heavier on the paint than others. The result would be a mess and not professional. Trust me, gentle coat: dry, gentle coat: dry is the key! This instructable will take patience. :)

I decided to just go white for my lamp. I chose this color because I want the plant life I put on it to stand out and get the spotlight and not the lamp itself. The plant's job is to glow and be alluring and to be the main focal point, especially when the lights go off....

ALSO white is a good reflector. It helps my glow in the dark paint to GLOW. You will learn about that in a later step.

Step 6: Make the Light WORK

This isn't your ordinary lamp. It's a lamp made out of a flashlight. This is the part where some soldering skills and knowledge on basic wiring will help. Yes this is the hard part. Well to some of you anyway.

Take your flashlight, one where the bulb is still intact and well functional. The bulb will need to withstand at least 5 volts.

-Dismantle the flashlight. Take the assembly that holds the light bulb out, this is what we will use to make our lamp light.

- Feed the power supply through the bottom of the lamp. cut the end off the power supply. You won't need it!

-Strip the ends of the 24 gauge standard hook up wire.

-Attach one side to the power supply wires and the other side goes to the terminals of the light bulb assembly. They should be soldered to the positive wire of the power supply to the positive terminal of the light, and negative wire to the negative terminal. This is what will Let there be Light!

Step 7: Build It Up!

Now that all the small components are made, all we have to do is put it together. YAY, you made a lamp!

-Next, you'll need to attach the flashlight head to the lamp base. I did this by rolling up some construction paper tightly and super gluing it to the flashlight head and then inside the lamp base hole. It is basically replicating the metal that usually holds a light bulb head. Instead i'm simply using construction paper to join the two.

-In the lamp shade, glue another piece of rolled up construction paper about an inch tall in the center of the shade. This is what will lift the shade off the flashlight head and allow more light to shine through. Simple enough. :)

-Hot glue the 4 giant marbles to the bottom of the base. This will lift up the lamp and allow the wires to connect with no interference. You can paint them white, but due to time, I left them as is.

Step 8: Add Your Plants!!

Here comes more fun! Time to put your creativity to good use. Decorate the lamp with all the various plants you have gathered. You can easily weave the plants and vines through the basket; another good reason to use one! ;) This part is especially up to you how you want your lamp to look. For me, I want an elegant and almost graceful looking lamp. I added a few flowers and different leaves and vines to help tie it all together. I also added some Spanish moss on the base to give it more of an earthy look. This lamp is one that must be effective as a lamp and yet glowing with lush plants when the lights go out.

-How do you make it glow?? Well lets find out!...

Step 9: Add Glowing Pigment Paint

Now this is something I found on ebay for 5$. I read that it glows blue and works pretty darn well when exposed to a little light. It is a white color when you first put it on but never fear, it will dry transparent. Now all that's left to do is cover your leaves and flowers with it; however much and however little you want! For me, I like that Glow. ;) Remember when I made my lamp white? Well I did this because white is an excellent reflector of light and will thus help my glowing pigment, to GLOW. Allow it to sit in good light for at least an hour. The flashlight will do its job and make them glow but if you really want the "Avatar" look you may need to let it soak up some more light.

Step 10: The After Glow!

Your final project should look elegant and alluring! Especially when the light goes out. When it's on, the lamp is bright enough to read by. To me I found it very calming. You could also use this as a beautiful decorative piece for special occasions or simply on your back porch. The plants help tie in the whole out-door feeling!

I hope you enjoyed my Instructable. Please comment and let me know if you do decide to make this lamp! Remember, it is made out of paper mache and mostly recycled materials! It'll be cheap! ;)

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    3 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    i love the idea of the afterglow. i can imagine this idea can translate to other things that can glow. very cool