X-Ray Lamp Shade




About: I build, I teach, I learn. Happiest when covered in saw dust, sweat and machine grease. Visit CobyUngerDesign.com for more projects and info.

Most radiology departments use digital imaging technology now, so if you have real X-Rays on film the broken bone has probably healed long ago. Now it's time to give them a new use. Some people find the images of bones creepy, but personally I think the skeletal system is fascinating. The X-Ray Lamp Shade is a great way to show off an old injury or just celebrate the complexity of the human body.

For this project all you'll need is an old lamp shade, some X-Rays, tape, a sewing machine, scissors and a needle and thread.

Step 1: Disassemble the Shade

Start by cutting the fabric off the wire in your lamp shade. It is important for later steps to keep both the fabric and the wire intact. The fabric portion will become a stencil for the X-ray shade in future steps.

Step 2: Assemble the X-Rays

The fabric from the original lamp shade can be used as a perfect pattern for the new shade. Start by laying out an arrangement of X-rays that you like that is slightly larger than the template made from the old shade. I recommend trimming the X-rays so that they only overlap slightly at the edges. Once all the X-rays are cut and arranged in a pattern that you like, tape them together lightly. The tape will be removed later, so you don't need to worry about how it looks.

Step 3: Sew

Most home sewing machines can sew through X-rays easily. Using either a straight stitch or a zigzag pattern sew over all the seams between X-rays.

Step 4: Remove the Tape

The purpose of the tape was simply to hold everything together while sewing, so now you can remove it so that it won't show up when the shade is lit.

Step 5: Cut Out the Shade

Now that you have all the pieces stitched together, it is time to cut out the overall shape. Start by tracing the old lamp shade stencil onto the X-rays with chalk. I recommend using chalk because it is really easy to wash away and won't leave a mark on the finished lamp shade.

Step 6: Make a Cone

This is a tricky step but I'm confident you can do it. Start by taping together the two sides of the freshly cut out X-ray collage. Next, place it on your sewing machine and hold back whatever parts seem like they are going to get in the way. If you have a really big lamp shade, this may be easier for you, but I had trouble getting the seam stitched all the way without creasing the X-rays.

Step 7: Attach the Frame

The final step is assemble the X-rays and the wire frame. If all the other steps went well, all the parts should fit together nicely. There may be a way to do this with a sewing machine, but I don't know about it (if you do, please comment below). The best way I found to assemble the parts was with a needle and thread. The X-rays are a bit hard to poke a needle through, so if you have a thimble on hand it might be a good idea to use it.

Step 8: Finished!

Now all that's left is to put the shade on a lamp and enjoy the skeletal glow.

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    15 Discussions


    3 years ago

    you might be able to use a small bit of plastic automotive trim....like the door guard trim to secure the wire to the X-ray shade....and use a small print of low temp hot glue to secure it.

    1 reply

    3 years ago on Step 7

    When I stitch thin plastics, I like to "drill" stitch holes using a hot needle or appropriate size thin nail. A #18 or #19 brad held in a pair of locking pliers is easy to handle. Candles are a barely adequate heat source, a small torch works great. I have found that over time, a punched hole, like just stitching with a needle or awl, can generate small cracks that can lead to failure. The melted hole leaves the substrate without stresses, and of course, the needle just slips through. Practice on a few of your trimming scraps to get a feel for the right temperature. This technique is also used in other materials. Leatherworkers often begin and end a slit with a small, punched hole to keep the slit from growing. And a small crack forming in many materials is best stopped by drilling a tiny hole at the end of it before applying appropriate patch or fill material.

    I have digital images (I asked for a disc with the images) of my toes after they were hit with a falling log. There are many ways to print digital images on fabrics and other media, so your idea could work even for those who don't have the original films. Now, do I want to be reminded of that day each time I turn the lamp on?

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Step 7

    Randy, I was thinking the same thing about getting copies of X-rays or even MRI images myself. I work in healthcare, so getting images to work with isn't hard as long as HIPPA isn't compromised. The idea of printing the images to silk printing sheets would be neat too. I have a friend who's a radiologist who loves unique gifts. This would work very well as a holiday gift!

    Cory you've got a neat idea here. Another way to get the shade stitched to the frame would be to use a fine hole punch and lace it on with either plastic rope or fine silk multi-strand thread (or even pearl cotton,) used for embroidery.


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Fun fact, X-rays are available on Ebay. You can try it at home even if you don't have a history of injuries.