I have always wanted to build a proper UFO alien diorama lamp.. after several years I finally managed to get it done.
Step 1: Getting Started.
Over the years I have seen several attempts made by people to make a UFO lamp. Overall, I found the efforts were lacking in detail, and the UFO itself was almost always some sort of lampshade, that jyst did not look right. However, people seemed to struggle with the lighting aspects.. almost all of them had a plug and lead, which made them look unconvincing. Recent technological advances in LED lighting, finally allowed me to fashion my own UFO lamp without a mains connection, with the batteries being easily accessible to change. I like the classic 'old school' UFO look.. typical saucer with domed top.. think 'The Invaders' or ' Earth vs Flying Saucers'. There are no sizable and credible UFO kits to be had.. they are normally very over priced for what they are, and quite small. Therefore I had to make my own UFO, and allow the design to provide easy access to the lamp and battery power source. I searched for weeks, trawling charity shops, cheap Pound stores. I was going to originally use an LED frisbee, however even with a dome added, it looked too flat. Eventually I discovered a perfect sized plastic dome shape.. from a cheap Ikea ceiling light. Happy days!
Step 2: Materials and Tools Used.
Having settled on my design, I gradually built up a list of materials and components for the lamp;
For the UFO itself;
- Domed polycarbonate diffuser from an Ikea Späcka ceiling light.. a bargain at £4!
- A small rounded plastic food storage tub (Home Bargains),
- A perfectly round plastic lense, slightly smaller diameter than the tub base (charity shop),
- Microwave plastic bowl and lid (Pound shop),
- Grey undercoat spray paint can,
- Black spray pint can,
- Silver spray paint can,
- Warhammer Nekron decal sheet (eBay),
- Remote control waterproof RGB led light for underwater lighting (eBay),
Conical glass vase (Ikea),
Ikea wood 'Fascinera' chopping board,
Model scenic crop circle matting (eBay),
Three 28mm metal alien figures designed by Ian Colwell (eBay),
Dead horse miniature by Warlord Games (eBay),
28mm plastic wood effect field fencing (eBay),
Games Workshop miniature paints.
Tools used were; Dremel for cutting and drilling, various paint brushes for painting the miniatures, craft knife, slim double sided tape, Gorilla glue, masking tape.
Step 3: Project U.F.O.
The Ikea Späcka lamp provided me with the perfect shallow dome for the UFO's main upper body. To the top, I glued the small rounded plastic kitchen tub, bottom facing upwards. The bottom of the container had a graduated curve, and a small flat base. On top of the container I glued a round plastic lense, simply to add a slighly rounded top to the UFO. For the UFO base, I utilused the bottom of the microwave plate lid.. it had evenly spaced square holes to allow steam from cooking to expell. I wanted the holes to allow the light from the LED to add to the UFO's features. I cut the soft plastic evenly using a Dremel. I then cut another hole on the lid's main face (bottom of the UFO) the same diameter as the round LED light. This would allow the UFO to sit on top of the glass vase, over the LED light. A few plastic embellishments were glued on the UFO bottom.. some plastic Ikea spare fittings I had gleaned. I then masked up the holes on the exterior of the bottom bowl lid section. I then sprayed both the inside of the bottom and the top sections with undercoat, when dry, several coats of black top coat. Then the interior of the bottom window sections were masked up, and the exterior of the top and bottom pieces received an undercoat, then several layers of silver spray paint. Finally I glued the upper and lower sections together, and finally applied the Warhammer Nekron decals. I chose these decals, as they looked alien, and matched the crop circle theme I was going to use with the lamp base. UFO done!
Step 4: Lighting and That UFO Beam!
With the main UFO complete, time to sort out the lighting and the UFO's beam effect. I used a small waterproof RGB lamp, which is designed for use in ponds. The light is emitted from the top face of the lamp, and from the sides too. A bonus was the remote control, allowing it to be switched on/off without the need to replace the UFO top body. I ensured that the glass conical vase I used for the beam effect and lamp support, had a slightly wider diameter than the round LED lamp. The physical properties of light, cause the light emitted from the LED lamp to shine through the upturned vase base and vase sides, the UFO model fitted over the top sitting over the lamp, resting on the exposed vase base. The light from the side of the LED lamp causes the small windows at the bottom of the UFO to light up too. To attach the LED lamp to the glass vase base, I used slim clear double sided tape between the LED's, so as to not cause any patterns forming in the projected light. I used a glass vase, as opposed to an acrylic vase, because the imperfect glass vase edges look more distorted and give a real sense that the light beam is projected.
Step 5: Lamp Base Diorama.
Finally, I needed a base to rest the UFO and upturned vase with it's light source. I luckily found a modelling crop circle matting online. I wanted a solid wood base.. Ikea sell several really cheap and useful wooden chopping boards. I found one that could accommodate the crop circle matting details, and ample room for the upturned wide vase top. A bonus was the unusual shaoe of the board itself.. The £5 Ikea 'Fascinera', which I will be using again for other lamp projects. The crop circle matting was stuck to the board with glue, when dry trimmed with a scalpel.
The last piece of the puzzle.. the miniatures to bring the lamp base diorama to life. I spent a long time searching for the atypical grey alien figures. They needed to be small, to emphasise the UFO's size, so 28mm looked like a good call. I eventually tracked down some perfect figures, designed by Ian Colwell. There are several different designs, I eventually decided on static poses, with one needing to be holding some sort of alien device to operate on the poor, unfortunate specimen dead horse! I painted the figures using Games Workshop acrylic paints.. finding a perfect light grey colour for the aliens. I dry brushed and highlighted in a slightly lightened down paint. The dead horse miniature is made by Warlord Games. It comes in a three pack, with two dead cows if you want to use an alternative. Painted brown and highlighted. Lastly, authentic miniature plastic wood effect fencing, which includes seperate sections, posts, and a broken section.. all painted appropriately. I finally drilled into the wood base, to allow the individual fence posts to be permanently fixed. I was not happy with the alien figure bases showing, being 28mm the bases were not easily removed without damaging the figure. So I colour matched the crop circle matting colour with a paint, and painted the figure bases. Then I trimmed some of the matting off cuts, and glued the fibres to the figure bases. Quite fiddly, but a great finishing touch. Finally I shaved small areas of the base matting, to match the figures bases. The poir dead horse is simple laying on the matting.
I hope this Instructable inspires you to make your own UFO lamp, or another diorama themed lamp. Total costs came to under £30, far cheaper than less authentic looking UFO lamps being sold online. Happy creating folks!