Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lamp and Shoji Screen Lampshade Tutorial

I was so happy with the way that this project turned out that I wanted to share the tutorial with you. As I mentioned yesterday, this was a project that had been percolating in my mind for years. I didn't have the time to research the individual elements and I thought about making the lampshade to fit a pre-existing lamp but I never could find just the right lamp base. I knew what I wanted but could never find it.

As I was out shopping in Manhattan, I ran across a lighting store and since I had some spare time on my hands, I decided to go inside and this was were I found the component parts for the lamp base. The other materials were purchased at Michaels and the paper was already a part of my stockpile.

Materials Needed:
A porcelain bulb unit
Electrical cord with plug at one end
Wooden Base (mine is 5.5 inches square)

Balsa Wood cubed sticks for the uprights
Balsa Wood thin sheets for the spanners
Wood Glue
Cutting tool for the Balsa Wood
Mounting Screws for the porcelain bulb unit 

Decorative Paper of Choice
Good Paper Paste/Glue
60 W (or less) bulb

Step One: Take the electrical cord and wire the porcelain fitting for power. My cord was already stripped at one end for the wiring but you might need to strip the non-plug end yourself.

Step Two: Center the porcelain fitting on your wooden base. Take mounting screws and screw into the base.  
Lamp Supplies
 Step Three: Screw  the bulb into the lamp base and test.
Lamp Base tested
Step Four: Build the box for the lampshade. Cut the Balsa Wood cubed uprights to the desired height. Make four identical pieces.

Step Five: Measure and cut the spanners. Measuring the sides of your lamp base, add 1/4 to 1.2 inch to this measurement. This should be the length of each spanner. Make four.

Step Six: Take a spanner and glue it to the outside edge of two of the uprights. Be sure to have enough space from the bottom of the uprights to the spanner so that the lighting cord can pass underneath the spanner. I started the first spanner 1.5 inches from the bottom of the upright.

Step Seven: Repeat step six for the second set of uprights.

Step Eight: Place one of the upright sets face down (with the spanner facing down--very important to get the orientation right). Take of of the loose spanners and place glue on right and left edges. Put the second upright set in your left hand (with the spanner facing up). Place the glued spanner in place at the top edge of the face down upright set. Take the upright set in your left hand and hold in place until the glue becomes tacky and holds. The spanner should be flush with the top edge of the uprights and with the left and right edges of the uprights. See notes below for the interior spanners. Once the glue is set up and still tacky, I rotated the developing box 90 degrees so that the gluing pieces were facing down. I glued one of the interior spanners to help hold the shape of the box.

Step Nine: Repeat step eight but the surfaces should be facing up and facing you. Place all interior spanners to help keep the boxes shape. I also used small bean bag weights to keep the uprights from shifting.

Finished Lamp Shade box
Step Ten: Cut the decorative paper to size. Take a tape measure or piece of strip and wrap around the box to determine the length of paper that you will need. You want a short overlap so add 1/4 to 1/2 inch to your measurement. Also keep in mind, your paper will stretch when it is wet and tightens against your box frame.

For the height of your paper, you need to decide how much opening you want on the top and bottom of your lamp shade. I decided to cut my paper flush to the top edge of the box and to the bottom edge of the bottom spanner. For my first attempts at making this, I wanted straight guidelines to wrap the screen so I used the spanners as guides.

Step Eleven: Take one edge of the paper and start flush with one edge of the upright and wrap the box. Make a small mark where the completed wrapping ends. If you have excess paper now is the time to trim it. You want 1/4 to 1/2 inch of paper to the left of this mark (as the paper is face down).Place the paper face down on a flat surface. Glue the left half of the paper. Place your box so that the left side of the box is on the mark you made on the paper. Make sure that the paper is flush with the top edge of your box. Take the left edge of the paper (the excess) and wrap the left edge of the box. Press firmly (but not too hard) so that the paper adheres to left hand spanner and uprights.

Press the spanners and uprights that are now on the face down surface. Rotate the box to your right one rotation being sure to keep all edges flush. Press the spanners and uprights against the paper and check that there are no wrinkles in your paper. See notes about wrinkles.

Glue out the second half of your paper. Rotate one more rotation and press down. Rotate the box for the final side.Your paper should end where you started and should end with the left edge of the starting upright. If your paper has stretched, just wrap the excess around the upright. Because this is where you started, this will be the back side of the lampshade. This one corner should be the only place where there is a double thickness of paper. When the lamp is lit this will show so you want this to be towards the back of the unit.

Set the lampshade aside to dry (in an upright position).

Finished lampshade
Place the shade over the base and plug in your lamp and enjoy.

Finished Lamp and Shade

(1) I kept all of the wood in its natural state. Feel free to paint the wooden pieces if you prefer. You should paint them and let them fully dry before mounting the porcelain fitting.

(2) There are all sorts of switches you can wire into your electrical cord. For my first attempt, I wanted to keep it simple and just use a plug in type of cord.

(3) After finishing step seven, I measured the interior distance between the uprights to make interior spanners. You can cut these in advance and have them ready when gluing.

(4) When you are gluing the paper to the box, take your time. Reverse any step if the paper becomes wrinkled. Usually when the paper wrinkles your edges are not flush. Once the glue has set, you will not be able to remove the wrinkles without destroying the project. SO. TAKE. YOUR. TIME.

(5) To test how your decorative paper will look once it is backlit simply hold the paper against a lit bulb. Darker Japanese papers didn't admit light as well as others. Also, some of the darker papers only let light shine through the light patterns of the paper which was interesting in itself.

(6) To ensure that there wasn't a fire hazard, I sprayed the decorative paper on both sides with a fire retardant to lessen the possibility of something bad happening. Regardless, I would not keep this lamp on for excessive periods of time nor would I ever leave it unattended.

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