Rainbow IQ Puzzle Laminated Paper Lamp

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About: Enjoy going camping with my wife off the back of our motorcycles. We're always having fun doing projects around our old house and teaching our daughter how to repair things.

A while ago I was perusing Instructables and found one for creating an IQ style "puzzle" lamp and thought that it looked pretty neat. The author of that one (Dan https://www.instructables.com/id/Universal-lamp-sh...) noted that someone commented that maybe using tissue paper and laminating it might work. I haven't seen anyone else do that so I thought I'd give it a try. It took some time to work out some details and get it right but I've assembled several of these now with a lot of success. The great thing about using tissue paper is that you can make it whatever color(s) you want. I've even made a large sphere hooked up to a volume sensor in my classroom that lights up if the kids get too loud.

This design creates more of a tube than a sphere and has a pretty neat look to it. By adding more rows to it someone could even make it go from floor to ceiling!

Supplies:

For this project you will need the following:

1) A laminator and laminator sheets - I used 14 sheets total of 5 mil thickness.

2) Paper Cutter and Software - I have a Cricut Expression 2 that a coworker gave to me. I use "Make The Cut" software to run it.

3) Light source - these are basically plastic and will melt easily so use caution here. I used a battery powered string of LED lights so I wouldn't have to worry about the heat

4) Tissue paper for gift wrapping. I got a selection at Michael's but it can be found at many locations. For this project I used the 7 colors for a Rainbow. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Some was in a variety pack and others individual colors in a package. You will need enough for the 14 sheets of laminator sheets.

5) Patience

Step 1: Laminate the Tissue Paper

This is pretty straight forward assuming you have a laminator. Follow the instructions for your particular machine and laminate 2 full size sheets of each color. If you're going to use a different color pattern make sure to do 14 total sheets.

I found it easiest to let the tissue hang out of the laminator sheets and after running it through just tear it off the edges. Flatten out the tissue in the laminator pouch as best as possible but small ripples come right out of it when it goes through the machine.

Step 2: Cut the Pieces Out and Re-Laminate

Cut the pieces out with your Cricut. I have attached a file for you to use with Make the Cut. Otherwise you can use the image of the piece to import into your favorite software, or you can print it to use as a template and cut them by hand. I sized it to cut 6 pieces out of each laminated sheet.

Once they were all cut out I ran them all through the laminator again just to make sure that any little pulls from the Cricut machine were resealed. This worked great and made the pieces all very smooth along the edges.

When you're finished you should have 70 pieces for the lamp and if you cut out 6 pieces per sheet you will have 14 extra pieces, which may come in handy if any tear during the construction.

Step 3: Set Up the Pieces

This lamp is made of 14 rows, each row containing 5 pieces. Lay out the pieces in the order shown in the picture. Arrange the colors however you like. I was originally going to make the top two rows Red, the next two Orange, and so on. In the end I decided to have the colors spiral down the fixture like a barber shop pole.

The pieces change direction depending on the row and the best way to tell which way is by studying the pictures. If you lay out the pieces carefully following the photo then linking the pieces together will go smoothly.

Step 4: Link the Top Row Pieces

With the pieces positioned like in the photo, link the top right corner of each piece with the top right corner of all the other pieces. It may take a minute or two to get them linked but when it's finished it will like the second picture when viewed from above. During the entire construction only one row will be finished at a time and it's best not to move on to a row until the current one is completed.

Once the five pieces from row 1 are linked add the pieces from row 2 as shown.

Step 5: Assemble Rows 3 and 4

These two rows are the most difficult. It will seem like something's not right and the pieces will want to pop apart. That's because the tension is a little awkward and it's not until row 4 is linked in that it begins to hold shape all by itself. If pieces keep popping apart at the outer edges it's to be expected and don't try to force it.

Step 6: Rows 5 Through 12

Here it's important to just be methodical as you complete each row. It begins to go quickly and you can really see what it's going to look like.

Step 7: 13th and 14th (and Final) Rows

Pay attention to how the last two rows are positioned. The pieces will initially resist falling into place but with the patience that you might still have left it will work. You're now finished with the hardest part!!!

Step 8: Install a Light

Now if you wanted to you could run a string into it to hang in a window, or from the rear view mirror of your car (it might be a little large for that), or you can install a light.

I removed a single piece from one end and dangled the string of LED light into it. Once I put the string in I just reinstalled the piece and it pinched the wire enough to hold it in place. The battery pack of the light have a small hook on it that I used to hang it from the ceiling and it holds it up great. The lights have multiple functions that have great effects.

I attached a couple pics of spheres that I've made with the same process and shapes, but linking them together differently to create a different shape. Have fun with this. If you make one please post pics for everyone to see. I'd love to see the different colors or patterns that people come up with.

Step 9: Another Version

I found some tissue paper at Michael's that has the colors of the rainbow in stripes and thought I would try using this also. To add an extra challenge I wanted to see if I could get all the stripes lined up with each other once the lamp was finished. I laid the paper in angles when laminating them so they would get cut as needed. You can see in the fourth picture how they are lined up and ready to assemble. Once put together and lit up the lines are pretty close to running with each other. It really shows when it's lit up. If you make one please post pictures or share your ideas. Thanks!

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    14 Discussions

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    obi1adobe

    6 days ago

    there is a store in st augustine florida called "happy pappy's glowing balls". they sell all sorts of light "fixtures" made from this exact shape. they have the shapes die cut out of lexan in various colors and 4 or 5 ranges in size. they had a column version like this instructable but it was from floor to ceiling. penguins, spheres, clown fish, jelly fish, all kinds of shapes and characters. once you decide what you want, they put it together while you watch. we bought a large sphere and had it shipped home. took them less than 5 minutes to assemble. they do not have a web site but you can find them on facebook. i have made the pattern in illustrator and can supply it as eps, svg, dxf, whatever.

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    RohynnGobi1adobe

    Reply 6 days ago

    Maybe I should set up a store too!! Since I made this I've seen several stores that sell versions but it's pretty satisfying making it from scratch, plus you can customize it in infinite ways.

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    bigchuckles1966

    6 days ago

    Very nice. You got my vote. Wishing you would add the download like for this in SVG or another file type so it can be used for the Silhouette Cameo 3 cutters. Thanks again for the Instructable very nicely done.

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    RohynnGbigchuckles1966

    Reply 6 days ago

    Thanks. My software won't convert to .svg so that's why I included the JPG above. I know that most software will import a JPG and convert it for your needs. I'm not familiar with the software for the Silhouette machines.

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    RohynnGthesnowtheriver

    Answer 6 days ago

    The first version of this pattern that I know of was designed by someone in the early 70s. The company is IQ Lights.

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    thesnowtheriverRohynnG

    Reply 6 days ago

    aha! mystery solved. thank you. and thank you for your instrructable, it's awesome.

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    jcooperrider1

    Tip 6 days ago

    Neat! What about using frosted, colored, plastic report covers (from Office Depot for example)? The color would be more uniform and you wouldn't get that mottled look from the tissue paper. Or theatre spotlight gels (from Rosco) but you'd need a diffusing layer like frosted mylar for that.

    2 replies
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    RohynnGjcooperrider1

    Reply 6 days ago

    I thought about the report covers, but the first time I tried this I used a patterned tissue paper so covers wasn't an option. The mottled look is accentuated in the pictures. In person it looks much warmer and softer. The photos also exaggerate the brightness of the LED lights inside adding to the uneven look. I'm starting one now with striped tissue paper and will post pictures once finished.

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    jcooperrider1RohynnG

    Reply 6 days ago

    Yeah, sometimes photos have a tendency of not showing items at their most flattering. You might also consider origami paper. It's a little thicker than tissue paper so light transmission may become more subdued, and the colors would be very vibrant in the lamp's UNLIT state. Not too sure if the color would maintain while being backlit, though.

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    RohynnGMimikry

    Reply 13 days ago

    Thank you. I appreciate the comment.

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    WeTeachThemSTEM

    16 days ago

    Thanks for sharing this colorful lamp project! I love your idea for a classroom volume sensor light. :)

    1 reply