Leather Cube Lamp



Introduction: Leather Cube Lamp

Dear Instructables Community,

My name is Andrew Sapala and I would like to share with you how I built my leather cube lamp.

I was inspired by Lemarchand's Box from the Hellraiser films by Clive Barker. The project was for a lamp proposal for my Computational Craft's Midterm taught by Liza Stark at Parsons in NYC. Before we begin I would like to give you a material breakdown for the project.


  • Cardboard
  • Scrap metal rods
  • 15-18 LED lights
  • Black Leather
  • Alligator clips
  • Four AA batteries in power case as Arduino power source
  • 3 volt battery
  • Box-cutting knife
  • 1/4 inch copper tape
  • Conductive fabric
  • Lead-free solder
  • Solder gun
  • Arduino UNO board
  • Breadboard (preferably small)
  • Colored pin wires (12)
  • Hot Glue + Glue gun
  • Thin metal cloth pins

I will walk you through how I created the cube in bite-sized chunks. If you have any questions about the project please leave me a comment and I will respond promptly.

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Step 1: The Abstract

My goal for the project was to create a two-part lamp system that can be interchangeable based on how the top and bottom sections of the lamp are positioned. This meant that the top and bottom sections would require different electronic components. There also needed to be a way for the top section to grab power from the bottom section in order to work.

Before anything was built I wanted to flush out my ideas by drawing the lamp in as many different ways as possible. The conductive materials my Professor shared with my class inspired me to approach building sculpture in new and exciting ways. I wanted to use leather because one of my favorite sculptors (Nancy Grossman) used leather for her famous head and assemblage sculptures.

Step 2: Manufacturing the Body Parts of the Lamp

I started off by building the top and bottom sections out of cardboard. Using a knife and hot glue, I built the lamp in three sections: The cube, trunk, and bottom. Ultimately the trunk and bottom would become the same piece, but I needed to first wire the base to power and run the pin cables up the inside of the trunk.

Once I had the exterior sections glued together I cut and tailored the black leather in shapes to be stretched and glued onto the cardboard. For any difficult spots where the leather wanted to pop out or not cooperate, I used metal cloth pins to secure it into the cardboard.

I examined my tool kit for any scrap metal pieces. The metal pieces are important because the metal is conductive and could be used to channel the base's power to the rest of the lamp. I had these thick, beat-up washers from an older project and incorporated them onto the surface of the leather. I also used a thin silvery conductive fabric to drape from the base+trunk as the connector.

Step 3: Inside Panels

The "light" element of my lamp would be groups of small LED lights, I chose red for a more aggressive visual appearance. Thin holes were cut through the surface of the cube panels and the heads of the LED lights were pushed through the holes. Separating the positive and negative ends of the LEDs, I mapped out the circuitry for a proper flow of current. Each section needed this in order to function properly. Once the copper tape was applied, I went through and soldered each connecting spot to assure that current could flow properly to the LED lights. Each panel was checked with alligator clips (to 3 volt battery) to see if the panels worked. Once that work was complete, each panel needed to connect to one another with additional copper tape.

Keeping in mind the locations of the positive and negative spots of the copper tape allowed for a consistent connection for the current to flow though to turn the LEDs on. Once the inside panel connections were made, the copper tape needed to connect to the outside metal washers.

Step 4: Running Power From Base to Top Section

The washers and copper tape were connected with metal cloth pins. Pushing the pin carefully through the cardboard touching the washer and copper tape. The same method was used for the scrap metal rods to the inside copper tape as well. After successfully testing the outside versus inside spots, it was now time to configure the bottom section.

I used an Arduino Uno board's 5 volt power slot, and attached a four AA battery pack to the board's external power plug. The base was engineered in a way to fit the board along with the colored pin wires and conceal the wiring. Once the Arduino was plugged in and turned on, and the colored pins were attached to the bases conductive fabric lining on the trunk, I was able to channel current through the base. When the top "cube" section is placed on top of the base the metal washers and metal rods complete the circuit turning the LEDs on.

Step 5: Final

In order for the lamp to work properly, I needed to go back and forth to resolder pins to the scrap metal pieces. Each little spot of connection needs to be considered with this kind of project. The leather cube lamp was a very complex project for me and I learned so much about proper connections, voltage, routing current and fabricating with conductive materials.

Please review the project and check out the images for more details. If you have any questions about my project feel free to reply and leave comments.

Kind regards,

Andrew James Sapala


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