Paper Wall Lamp




I've been knocking this idea around in my head to make these wall-mountable light boxes, but I guess I needed a boring summer to convince to me do it. With these materials, it actually makes two sets of three or you could make a long six light set. I wanted to make a lamp with a soft glow as well as a wall fixture that is attractive even when the light is off. This is a very easy design with simple, everyday materials. I used what I had laying around the house but this could definitely be made with more sturdy materials.

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Step 1: Materials

1. Paper ( I used sketchbook paper because it was sturdy and it let enough light through. Rice paper or maybe natural fiber paper would also look good here.)
-sketchbook paper (18 x 12) 10 sheets
-one piece of black core foamboard (30 x 20)

2. Lights (I had two sets of white led rope lights about 9 or 10 ft. long left over from a xmas sale. As far as lights go here, you can use what you want but they need to have low watts because of the obvious fire hazard.)
- two sets of led rope lights

3. Tools
-Box cutter
-glue (Elmer's is fine)
-mounting screws and wire
-measuring tape
-hot glue gun or household cement (for gluing the foamboard)
-plastic zip ties

Step 2: Paper Box Construction

Fold six sheets of paper in thirds lengthwise. This forms the three sides to the box; the fourth side is open so the lights can fit inside of it. Make the seams sharp with a bone folder or use a blunt object, like the side of your box cutter.

Now take two more sheets of paper and fold these into six parts lengthwise. Cut along the folds and fold them each in half once more. These folded strips will provide support for the open side of the box.

Line up one of the strips along the edge of a box. Overlap one side and staple down the length so it forms a corner. Repeat for all the boxes so that each box has two strips on top.
  • You can also glue here, but sometime the glue puckers the paper on the top

Next, fold the remaining two sheets of paper in thirds widthwise, and cut on the folds to form squares. The squares will go on the ends of the box to complete it.

Line up the end of one box and a square. Fold on three sides and make sure it can fit inside the end. Cut the corners and secure with a staple so it forms a square corner. Spread a thin strip of glue on the inside of the end of the box and place the square inside. Now fold down the top of the square so that it fits inside and staple the top to the box. Press down the seams to make the glue stick and leave to dry.

Step 3: Foamboard

1. Measure and cut the black core foamboard (30 by 20) into 3 equal lengthwise pieces. The first two are the front of the wall unit.
2. Measure and cut the third piece into four equal lengthwise pieces; these will form the two supports on the back of each piece of foamboard.
  • If you are lucky enough to have a rabbet cutter or a matting tool that cuts on an angle, cut the foamboard accordingly.
3. Affix the two supports to the back of the big piece using hot glue, household cement glue or some other type of glue that will support the weight of the lights.
4. After the glue has cured, measure where the light boxes will go and cut a 2 in square in the center if you are using rope light.
5. Put mounting screws and wire in on one end of foamboard (better pic on next step)

Step 4: Lights

Push a third of the rope light through the first hole. Wrap it up and shape into a bar somewhat and secure shape with plastic ties. The point of this is not only to concentrate the light, but to make it fit well inside the paper boxes.
String the light down the back to the next hole and repeat twice.

Be sure to leave the plug out!

Step 5: Finish and Hang!

Place the paper boxes over the lights and straighten. Place staples under the paper to secure it to the foam board; angle the stapler under the box. I used double-sided tape before but the paper boxes kept shifting; if you can't staple, try hot glue- nothing smelly.

Find a place for your new light fixture, hang it ( I found that two pushpins were strong enough to hold this up) and plug it in! Enjoy!

This whole project cost me about 11 dollars total. Of course I did get the led lights on sale for $3 each, so it might be a bit more expensive now, 3 for the foam board and 2 for the paper. Not bad huh?

The first two pics are with the flash on.

Thanks for reading my first Instructable! Please tell me what you think.

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    24 Discussions


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I have an idea; you could lacquer some stiff paper and make one which can take regular incandescent lights (15W or smaller).

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Step 5

    Totally atractive. Something I'd show or make my friends ;) Thanks!


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I've seen luminaries in old magazines made from varnished paper bags. If you coat paper with clear Varithane- they have water based now- will the paper be sturdier? Safe? What about using canvas,muslin, or cotton duck instead of paper?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, I must make this's adorable and doesn't seem overly bright, so it's great for an accent piece. Also, plus side.. I have most of the materials already, heh! Great work on this. :D


    11 years ago on Step 5

    i love it but i will have to try to make the light boxes a little less complicated. i might also use a single led light, i'm not sure how exactly, instead of all the tubing from the rope lights. i love foam core and this is a brilliant use for it.


    This is really awesome. It would look really great if took some wood and made a frame for for the paper, that way it had a japanese style to it. Kind of like a shoiji lamp you know? When I get around to making this, I'll make it with frames anf show you a pic of it. Great idea.

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    This is way to complicated for Donald Judd. Most significantly, it has a function as a lamp. This is the conceptual antithesis of Donald Judd, even if it does superficially look like some of his sculptures.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    Naedhi uses LED rope lights, so no. Low wattage compact fluorescents would work nicely too.