Ghost Lamp

Introduction: Ghost Lamp

About: I'm a physics student. I like to build stuff and learn about electronics.

    Last week we organized a last-minute halloween party at our high school. We were reallly exited but we realised we hadn't any decoration. Some of us went to buy some stuff, but the money was so less(1€ per person) that we couldn't buy so many things. Then we started to think in recycling something and we found some decor objects we used for other purposes. Anyway, we hadn't anything for lighting and we couldn't buy anymore. That's how the inspiration come to me!

   Ambient light is a very important detail in halloween. If you haven´t a good lighting, your decoration will look wack. That's why you need something like these awesome paper based ghost lamps.

   Make scary and funny lamps for your indoor or outdoor halloween party.


Step 1: Materials

The stuff you need:

  • Newspaper
  • Condom or balloon
  • Tape
  • School glue
  • Water
  • Sheet or white fabric.
  • Colored lightbulb
  • Wire
  • Bulbholder
  • Plug
  • Tie wire
  •  Recipient for the mixture
  • Bucket or flowerpot
  • Pins

  • Scissors (cutter or knife if you prefer)
  • Pliers
  • Brush
  • Stick
  • Screwdriver

Step 2: Blow Up the Condom

You must be thinking I am some kind of degenerate, but that was the one thing I found in my house it can be blow up. Now I relalise it was a good choise beacuse it has a better shape so as to make a paper ghost. You can allways try with a balloon if you want but I rather use this.

Fist of all, wash the condom, you don´t want to have a slippery balloon when you are covering it with paper. Then you can start to blow. It can be very large beacuse of the materials condoms are made, so don´t be afraid to do it bigger. Finally, tie the condom.

Step 3: Put the Condom/balloon Into the Bucket

Just do it as I do in the picture bellow.

Step 4: Make the Mixture

So as to have a stiff lamp you need to soak the newspaper sheets in glue and water mixture.
The proportion of the mix its about 1/3 of water and 2/3 of school glue. Put All together in a recipient and blend it with a brush.

Step 5: Cover the Condom/balloon With Paper

For this step you have two options:
  1. Put the newspaper sheets first and then apply the mixture with the brush.
  2. Soak the newspaper sheets in the mixture and cover the condom/balloon with them.
Make sure to cover all over the codom/balloon and make at least two layers. This make the ghost more opaque, something necessary for the scary face effect.

Step 6: Let It Dry

For this step you have to wait around 4 hours if the sun is out. You can always let it dry at night.

Step 7: Take Apart the Bucket

Deflate the condom/balloon with the scissors. Afterwards, extract the bucket with a stick, hitting the base of the bucket. For more details, go to the pictures bellow.

Step 8: Make the Lamp Holder

You must be aware this step is a bit dangerous. Life threatening voltages and fire danger will be present if not done correctly.

Strip the wire. After that, attach the wire with the wire nuts using a screwdriver. Use this prosess in both sides of the wire.

Step 9: Bend the Tie Wire

This step is so confusing to explain. I rather show you by imges, so follow the photos bellow to get the idea.

Step 10: Draw and Cut the Faces

This is the most important step of the project.
Draw a face over the ghost with the marker (you can try with a pencil and then with the marker). It's a bit hard to draw over it beacuse of its bumpy texture, but it's easy to cut.
When you are sure your face is scary enough, cut it. The easiest way is to make a hole using one blade of the scissors or using the knife or cutter and then start to cut the shapes.

Step 11: Cut the Sheet

I found some sheets lying around and I decided to use them. They have some spots but there are so small that it doesn´t matter.

First, look for the center of the sheet/white fabric and make a little cut. Then, introduce the plug across the hole and let it fall over the ghost.
Adjust the sheet with pins to make the faces more visible.

Step 12: Insert the Lightbulb

Insert the colored lightbulb into the socket, and turn it clockwise until it's snug. Choose the color you prefer or the one that fit with your decor. It can be white light as well, but it isn't the same.

Step 13: Happy Halloween!

Put it wherever you want, it fit to every halloween ambient. Remember that this is just an ambient light, not a strong light.

I swear you enjoy this instructable. Sorry for post it so late but I had a lot of work this week. Fell free to comment everything you think about it.

The photos bellow had been taken at dark and with flash on/off.


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    6 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome project. I have two ideas to improve it. Try it with a low wattage normal (wolfram fibre) bulb, 15 or 25 watts, and wire a serial diode on it. The light will be orange and dimmer, because the semiconductor will halve the period of the household power, and it will even blink a bit because of the halved frequency. My other idea is a neon lamp starter serially, which will work as a random trigger, to blink ghostly the bulb. The two plus parts can be builded as a complex system, you can use both of them in one lamp.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    That sounds like a neat idea! What bugs me a little is the use of the neon lamp starter, since it's made to create impedance on a neon bulb, an average bulb shouldn't take too long to power up and the blink would probably be too quick to notice or to feel right. Let alone the randomness. Have you ever tried this before?


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Well, the starter is a very interesting part. As I know, its purpose is not exactly to create impedance, but to make some short impulse into the serial coil, because this "kick" will cause a very high voltage induction via the coil, which is important to start the ignition of the main fluorescent neon tube (that's why its name is "starter"). But without a coil its impedance (or exactly: resistance) is very high, even when it emits a dim halo-like light effect around its electrodes inside - if the voltage reached about 60-70 volts or more. The starter is in this situation just a bimetal switch that trigs on when became warm by the electroluminescent phenomenon inside, but with this moment it makes a short circuit inside for the el.lum. current, thus the electrodes go cold, the bimetall releases, the el.lum. effect raises again... and so on.

    In fact the starter is a simple oscillator, but, since its working is founded on e.l. effects and the heat expansion, its periodicity is not so exact; thus it is a good tool to be used for a very simple randomized triggering effect - like in a ghost lamp. And - of course - I have tried it, you can find an instructable based on this effect by me [], but when I was a kid, we always made small lamps like this to have own disco lights. No risk (or no more than the usual ones when you work with household power), easy and nice. Try it bravely, but don't forget to insulate!

    Since I'm not a native speaker, I named this part (the starter) 'neon glow ignition' in that neclamp instru, because I was not sure its correct name in english, but the effect and purpose is the same. And... sorry, if I was not fluent enough in English, it's not so easy to write about special things like this...:-)


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Wow, thanks for the nice exposition! I thought the starter was the
    whole thing, coil included, which is where the impedance builds up, I
    think. Also, that's a cool 'ible you made there, I might try this soon
    enough, just for the fun of it.

    Don't mind the language. I'm a
    non-native speaker myself, so I get your feelings, but you are more than
    good enough to get the message across ;).


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, that's why I was confused with the correct expression of the starter. In Hungary we call it "neon light tube ignition fuse", which sounds better and shorter in Hungarian; but some people call it (translated, of course) simply as "neon-ignition". What you need for this lamps is only the small capsule inside the glass bulb (and the attached capacitor, which is for the filtering of the sparkle noises in the radio frequencies when the starter is working.)

    Nowadays the electronic starters are to outplace this traditional parts from the technology, but these are very sophisticated and interesting old elements of the analog world...


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    And an appendix... I forgot to write, when I tried it, it was good until 60 watts - if the household power is 230 volts. At lower hh. voltage for this power the system must drive higher current, but - as I mentioned before - a 25 watts bulb is ok. The starters can survive cca. 05 ampers, sometimes more. The (average) triggering period depends on the wattage of the bulbs.