Coffee Cup Sphere Lamp




About: I am an arts and crafts teacher in a secondary school in the Netherlands. ( I love making things. Especially out of nothing, worthless materials, garbage and cheap stuff. Besides that I...

I've had this idea for a long time and when I read about the Coffee cup challenge thought this would be the time to let this idea become reality: The coffee cup sphere lamp!
I must admit it isn't completely original. I just saw the same idea posted in another Instructable here, and I can remember seeing something similar in a windowshop as decoration but hey...those aren´t my story, so let get to work!

Step 1: The Ingredients

So start drinking a lot of coffee, especially the bad tasting stuff at your work or school. Save the cups. be honest...I did not had the time to wait until I had collected about 300 necessary cups so I went to my local supermarket and bought them. (however I drink way to much coffee, in such quantities that there was a time it was my main source of inspirations as you can see on my website)
I rather would have had paper cups but they only had plastic ones, so I sticked with those.
Besides that Instead of using glue I picked up my stapler and ( a lot of) staples.
Further more you'll need electric wire with an attached socket, an energy-efficient lamp (with normal lamps I'm afraid the heat will meld the plastic), some (3 or more) pinbolds, a  big washer and some small ones.

Let me list that;
-300+ cups
-a stapler with staples
-electric wire with socket
-energy-efficient lamp
-big washer
-small washers
-a heatsource (a lighter or something like that)
-A sharp metal pen (for instance a scriber) with the thickness of the wire

Step 2: The Base

OK start with stapling three cups together, this will be your base around which you'll build the rest.
I found out that stapling the staples nearest to the bottom first will work the best. Changes are,with stapling the upper first, that the plastic will rip. I didn't mind because it was kind of a ghettostyle work and in the end, because of shortage on staples, I only did the lower ones.
Next time, with paper cups, I think I would try some glue. Just experiment yourself.

Step 3: Building On...and On...and On...

Now you have the base you can build on around it. Because of the tapered form of the cups you'll end up automatically with a sphere (kind of).
I started with a system of weaving the edges under and over each other, as you can see in the picture of the base, but later on, I got lazy and only put the edge of the cup under the previous one.
Besides that I ended up (because of my laziness, and the will to finish it of in one evening) with some bad fitting. So the top part of the sphere is kind of messy and the form more resembles an egg than a sphere. But, so what,... even Brancussi thought the egg was the beginning form of the universe huh?
There isn't much to say about the ongoing just staple on until you've got blisters on your fingers!  Just leave one hole open for the last cup.

Step 4: Placing the Lamp

So now you take the last cup, heat up your scriber and burn a hole in the bottom. Place the big washer under the underside, tie a knot in the electrical wire and put it through the hole from the outside. Attach it with the split bolts trough some holes (which you'll have to meld with the scriber first off course) with the small washers in between to prevent them slipping through. Now you can easily remove the cup if the lamp is broken.
Never mind the paper clips you see on the photos before, those where a first try to fix the last cup in place: It didn't work.

Your lamp is finished (only have to hang it on the ceiling and put the wires on the electricity off course. Be careful with that!).

Let it burn!



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    75 Discussions


    Tip 6 months ago on Step 4

    I made one of these for Christmas 2018. Stopped by here to see if there was better way to hang it. Ours is outside, so we wanted it to be battery powered. We made ours out of 9 oz. translucent plastic cups and used four 100 bulb led fairy lights. Threaded nylon twine through openings in the cups. Now I'm experimenting with 5 oz. cups. They're nearly transparent and make a somewhat smaller ball. We're going to try one 100 bulb string. If that isn't bright enough, i'm pretty sure two strings will get the job done. We're going for two green and two red balls to hang by our driveway for the holidays next year.


    3 years ago

    ( >﹏<。)~ come by searching engine, and honestly disappointed: no, this isn't for paper cups.


    Thanx. Honoustly I have to admit that the picture shows it a bit rounder than it really was..but it was pretty round.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like it a lot! Thanks

    There's a street food seller here in Lampang Thailand that uses all kinds of funky objects to make his stall interesting. Most recently SPOONS - the little ones that come with yoghurt. Also Thai people can be creative with cut and bent ANYTHING - I have seen fish shaped lamps that on closer inspection revealed their parents to be 2 L milk bottles.

    Has anyone used ping pong balls to make such a lamp - They would glow nicely.


    4 years ago

    As a child of an architect in the 70s, I had all kinds of different projects like this around our house. My bedroom had a light fixture made of the old foam cups. It wasn't a sphere, it was more of a concave honeycomb. I think my dad didn't use the whole angle of the cup and only glued the rims to each other to achieve that. It had the added bonus of being large enough to cover the cracks in the old ceiling around the light socket.
    So I guess you could say I looked at a coffee cup project every day of my life for 7 years until we could finally move into a house my dad designed himself.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for inspirate my 13 year old students of CES SAN JOSE in Malaga (Spain)! They say: Come on "Dave A" light my classroom!!

    coffee cup lamp.jpg
    2 replies
    Dave Achuchomalaga

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Haha, I took a closer look and read "Reciclado", that happens to be my capoeira nickname which I practice.

    Dave Achuchomalaga

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you, you made my day! I hope to inspire my own 13 year old students daily, but it's great to hear I even inspired Spanish younsters!

    Dave A

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Strange...a part of the above comment didn't get through. Well to be honoust, I don't know. The lamp isn't in use anymore, it was a bit to bulky.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i really liked the idea and made one for diwali myself....this is how it looks.....its not really round as such ....but it turned out beautiful..:)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I just made it a regular ball and people kept on telling me to cut a hole in the top and put a lamp in the middle. Problem? I'm too damn lazy haha