Totally Handmade Cardboard Pendant Lamp. Easy to Make.




About: An artist by birth, a software architect by choice, a lamp maker by passion, a learner forever. Featured Author here:)

Hello Fellows,

Here I am again with my latest instructable, an awesome & professional looking pendant lamp made of cardboard, and that too totally handmade, which means you don't need any 3D softwares, laser cutter etc. The best part is , it's very simple and easy to make, and once you finish it no one can tell that you have not used any cutting or 3D design tool :-).

So lets get started. 

Step 1: Stuff That You Will Need

So this is what you will need:
  1. A cardboard sheet, I had a big sheet because my metal bed came in that. The type of cardboard used is Triple Wall (see more details about cardboard types here
  2. A heavyduty cutter.
  3. Elmer's glue or Fevicol (in india, I used).
  4. 1 Tracing paper
  5. 1 Carbon paper
  6. An electric cord with bulb holder
  7. CFL or Bulb or LED strip (will tell you later about this)
  8. A pencil
  9. A measuring scale or rular.
  10. Patience..My Friend...Patience. :-)

Step 2: Preparing the Raw Material

This is the only tedious step in this project.

We need to cut about 140-145 strips of cardboard about. The size of each strip is 12 x 2 cms (Length x Width), in my case.

See the images above, how I had drawn the lines on cardboard to cut strips and the end result.

TIP 1: The thickness of my cardboard was really good and my cutter was sharp but i noticed that cutting the board like paper was leaving the strips with rough edges, so heres what I did. I placed the cardboard little off the table and started cutting as if I am cutting a small piece of wood using saw. This resulted in smooth edges. See the image above for this explanation (sorry its little blurry)

TIP 2: Keep some coffee next to your cutting table ;-), I kept water as well :-)

Congratulations!! You just finished the boring part, lets jump to the interesting one.

Step 3: Build Base of the Lamp.

Our pendant lamp here will use little geometry. We will use the strips to make a pentagon. the way, the height of the lamp is about 10-inch, if we use 140 strips.

Lets build the base:
  1. See the diagram above to have an idea of what we are trying to do, we will create pentagons using the strips and stack them on each other to form a tower like structure, simple..isn't it?
  2. Place 5 strips on the table to form a pentagon, (Image 1)then Stack 5 more strips to form another pentagon but this time place the strips so that joins of the level below are intersected by the strip on top (Image 2)
  3. Now glue this arrangement (Image 3) and wait for few minutes so that the glue bonds the strips
  4. End result is shown in Image 4.

TIP: You may be wondering why I did not use hot glue, well using Elmer's or Fevicol gives me enough time to make adjustments to the shape.

  Next step is fun.

Step 4: Stack-Glue-Stack-Glue...Repeat

Keep stacking the strips to form the pentagon and glue them. Then wait for few minutes for the glue to bond. Repeat this to make the entire structure.

TIP 1: Glue all 5 quickly and then gently adjust them to fit to the correct size.

TIP 2: Every alternate strip is parallel to each other, this will help you check for symmetry as the shape is building.

See images above for the feel of the progress. Looking like cool 3D model or may be a building structure of new Mission Impossible Movie...LOL.   

Your cardboard pendant lamp is almost ready, lets make arrangements to cover the top of lamp.

Step 5: Cover the TOP

Lets make the top cover of the lamp
  1. Put tracing sheet on top of the structure and draw the inner pentagon on it (Image 1).
  2. Transfer the pentagon on tracing sheet to cardboard sheet using the carbon paper (Image 2).
  3. Cut the cardboard to get a pentagon.
  4. In the center of the pentagon cut a hole large enough, so that you can insert half of the bulb holder (Image 5)
  5. Insert the bulb holder (Image 6) and secure it with its ring. Ensure that its not loose. 
  6. Now Apply some glue as shown in Image 7.
  7. Place the pentagon piece to cover the lamp (Image 8). You may need to crop the pentagon to adjust it to fit inside properly.
  8. All the glue to dry for 10-15 Minutes.
  9. You lamp is ready to light up.

Step 6: Light Up!!

With cardboard lamps, the possibilities to use lights are endless. I have experimented with few options as shown below
  1. Incandescent Bulb
    1. Pros:
      1. Best Brightness
      2. Light passes through porous cardboard beautifully
    2. Cons:
      1. Produce lots of heat, for cardboard which I had used, this is not a big problem
      2. Consumes electricity.
      3. May not be soothing to eyes for few people. 
  2. CFL
    1. Pros:
      1. Soothing light
      2. Energy efficient
      3. Produces less heat.
    2. Cons:
      1. Less bright
      2. Light does not pass through cardboard very efficiently.
  3. LED Strip or Bulb
    1. Pros:
      1. Bright and light passes through cardboard nicely.
      2. Energy Efficient
      3. No heat problems.
    2. Cons:
      1. You need to make custom arrangement to get it fit inside pendant lamp, like I did, I used cardboard from toilet rolls and stick the strip around it. worked very well for me. 

As you light up and hang your lamp, its ready for WOW expressions :-). See the image above for various light effects.

I like to thank the author of  this iBle for inspiring me and opening endless possibilities with the porous nature of cardboards.

If you like this project, please vote for me by visiting in Lamps & Lights contest or by the voting button on the top right corner of this iBle (if you don't see the button now, please come back after 24 hours, I would really appreciate it).

Thank you for visiting and reading this instructable.

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    34 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Looking nice. I will make it tonight.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Check out my new lamp Tarun :)


    5 years ago

    This is such a great idea. And congrats on being a featured author

    1 reply

    5 years ago on Introduction

    It's a really nice instructable!
    In step 5, I am feeling uncertain that whether the glue (not the type of it, just the glue), with which the top is attached to the pentagon below, after suspending the completed lamp in air , would be able hold the weight of the pentagon below it (for longer times)... But, also, I think that the lamp can be placed on a table also...??

    2 replies

    Hi, Thank you so much.
    Cardboard is pretty light weight and glue like fevicol hold it together very well if you generous amount of it and allow it to dry completely. The lamp is hanging at my home for months without any issue. Also the pentagon on top is a tight fit.

    You can also put it on the table top but you might need to keep it inverted and attach the bulb in such a way that the holder is completely inside the lamp such that it does not result in an uneven base.

    Hope this helps.


    Hello, thank you!
    Yes, you are right about the way to keep it on the top of a table.. I thought of one way to do it; that the same completed lamp be built first, and then build a small pentagon of cut pieces of cardboard (like the earlier step) above the holder's side, till that pentagon totally covers the holder's area coming out of the glued pentagon top cover and then keep it on the table with the bulb upwards. This way lamp will get a base to stand upon. But, I will have to be sure that the bulb does not touch any inner walls of the pentagon to prevent any danger of fire.


    6 years ago on Step 6

    I like the simplicity of it. I wonder how this would look spray painted and clear coat? might hold up longer.

    1 reply

    Finally someone asked the secret of trade question :D. I guess enough to kill one night's sleep if you are keen to finish it in a day :D LOL

    Thanks for stopping by :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Good job! This looks great - and looks like it would take a while to cut out so many pieces - well worth it I'm sure!

    5 replies

    Thanks HollyMann for appreciation. Yes it took me a day to cut those many pieces, initially it was really slow but as I figured out the trick, it was relatively faster. I used a steel measuring scale and my heavy duty cutter. I do not have a bigger work table which I guess would have surely helped to speed up.

    Wow awesome! And congratulations on winning too!!! You definitely deserve it. I am glad you commented on my lampshade today because now I can look at all your beautiful creations!!! I'm sure you'll win many more contests! :) I like your style!

    Holly I am speechless by all the wonderful comments you made on my iBles :). All I can say is Thank you so much. I hope I will be able to make more of your liking.

    Thank you Tarun and thanks for the patch too! :) I love the stuff you've made and love it when people are so creative and passionate about it! You're awesome and I hope you have a great Friday!