Max Zorn Tape Art Lampshade

Introduction: Max Zorn Tape Art Lampshade

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 made an Instructable earlier about the art of Max Zorn, a Dutch street artist and how I use his work as an inspiration in the art classes I teach in middle school. I used that technique for a lampshade which I think is worth sharing with you. That's what this Instructable is about.

Step 1: Materials and First Tape Layer

For information about who Max Zorn is and how he works I would like to refer to the earlier mentioned Instructable.
The effect is based on layers of tape stuck on a clear base like a window glass or streetlight through which light from behind will shine less through thicker layers. With this simple technique some very interesting effects are possible.

Material and tools list:

  • clear sheets of acrylic or glass
  • painters tape or other thin tape
  • a pencil
  • a sharp knife
  • degreaser
  • a hot wire table to bend acrylic sheets or a frame to put sheets together
  • a tablet or a tracing table if you use your design from paper. Just a window will do to
  • a lamp on which you can attach the lampshade off course

For this lampshade you will need a sheet of acrylic glass, big enough for your design and wide enough for bending in to a square tube. Off course you cane use smaller sheets of acrylic or even glass and put them together in some sort of frame

Clean the sheet with some degreasing liquid like simple soap and water or if you use glass take some ammonia. If you have some new acrylic sheets with plastic protection still on it take that of from one side and leave it on the other side.

Start sticking the first layer of tape by putting strait lines of tape with the edges as close as possible together. Don't overlap the strips because that wil cause darker lines (unless you wan't to; this is only example. Feel free to experiment). In this case I used white/yellow painters tape but you could use the dark brown plastic "cardboard" tape that Max Zorn himself uses, for some old sepia effect or be creative and try blue or purple painters tape or any other tape you have. As long it is thin enough to let some light through. So you can count out ducttape or electrical tape I guess....

If you have covered the whole sheet with tape the next step is done.

Step 2: Tracing the Design

I used two " selfies" I made with my iPad for this design. Before I could trace them I used an app like Pixlr to make it black and white, turned up the contrast and overexposed it so it would be a very clear picture to trace. Besides that I brought back the gradients two three different ones, with the white background that makes 4 layers of tape.

Now I put the sheet of acrylic with the tape-side up over my iPad and with a pencil I traced the outlines of the picture.
Be careful not to displace the acrylic sheet from it's original orientation. If you put out the the screen you can inspect if all the lines are traced. Make sure you trace the different gradients of gray, which will be the different layers.

Step 3: Sticking Tape Layers and Cut Them Away Again

Than fill in in the first layer, the complete silhouette, with tape in an angle of 90 degrees from the basic first layer. This will be the lightest part, apart from the background basic layer. Cut the outline and peel off any tape outside the silhouette.
Do the same with the following layers and make sure you put the every next layer in an other angle so the lines will give a nice extra geometric layer effect. Pick the areas you want as the same shadow carefully. take your tim with this and make sure you use a sharp knife. I did this with the sheet on the light/tracing table, so I had a good view on what I did.

Step 4: Inspecting the Results

After all your cutting inspect everything for little faults and repair them if needed. Take a look from a distance because that's what's important. I must say I was more pleased with the silhouette from the side than I was with the frontal portret. But it was still experimenting for me.

Step 5: Bending the Acrylic

After I measured out the bending lines with help of a paper folding sketch I traced the bending lines on the tape. I than removed the protection foil and heated up the bending wire. After a view second it was bendable enough and I bend the acrylic just past 90 degrees, three times. Make sure you put the tape side up because it wil burn over the glowing wire! And don't put it on to long because it will burn the paper tape as well. besides that the tape will stick less if heated. With plastic tape that will be less of a problem.

This way I formed a square tube which can be put over a light source like a lightbulb or led. A led light would be best taking in that a lightbulb gives a lot of heat which might deform or even burn the acrylic.

Step 6: The End Results

As you can see with a light behind the lamp shade the silhouette is really coming out well.

I hope you liked the Instructable and please post pictures if you made one too.

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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi! Thanks for sharing. I think the dark parts of the artwork must be darker.

    Dave A
    Dave A

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you! But I have to agree with Danger: I do scare myself sometimes in the dark as I stare in my own face :-p