You…light up my life….

I’ve really started to love lamps in the past few years. They can add such personality to a room, and a whole lot of “homey-ness.”  That’s why I was so excited to see lots of lamp and light fixture projects in Mark Montano’s Big-Ass Book of Crafts. It was a major selling point for me in fact.

I made this lamp, with a few alterations, from Mark Montano’s clothespin lamp project in the above book. Pretty much all you need is a simple printout of an image that you like (goooo internet!), a couple of dollar store frames, a night light, and an extension cord (if it’s not a battery-operated night light). I also used some recycled posterboard (to make the sides of the lamp), white acrylic paint, and glue (Weldbond brand is awesome). Mr. Montano used clothespins to make the sides of his box lamp, which gives a kitschy pretty look, but I didn’t have any around, and I do love to use what I’ve already got around the house. If you want to see this project in in its original incarnation, please go find the book in your local craft store (or it’s less than $14 on Amazon right now!), or see Mark Montano’s blog post about the project here.

The hardest part about this project is getting the 2 wooden frames (the front and the back of the lamp), to stay the proper distance away from each other while you are gluing on the sides of the lamp. In my case, I was trying to glue thin recycled posterboard to the sides of the wooden frames, and it was tough going a few times. My best advice if you don’t have a 2nd pair of hands to help you, is to use books or stable heavy objects to prop the frames against while you glue. You can also use random found objects to place between the two frames to keep them from leaning in on each other too much. Heavy objects can also be stacked on top of the frames once the adhesive is in place to help keep the glued pieces from moving while they are drying. That way there should be less warping/migration as the glue cures.

The other difficult part of this project is cutting out a shape in the back of your frame to stick the night light into. Mark solved this problem on his blog by using some recycled cardboard to make the back of the frame. Even corrugated cardboard is easier to cut with a craft knife than the dense chipboard backing that comes with many frames. I did a pretty decent hack-job on the back of my frame trying to get the light in there at first. But, please remember, this is an extremely economical project, and, if the back of the frame isn’t so perfect, who cares? You’re doing this for the fun of it right?

Anyway, final tip: to get kind of a whitewashed “beachy” look on this lamp, I used a slightly dried-out thick white acrylic paint to coat the wooden frames and cardboard sides of the lamp. I brushed through it a few times with a rough bristly brush before it could fully dry to a smooth finish. The end :-)

Please let me know if you have any questions about this project, and go check out Mark Montano’s Big-Ass book! Trust me, your $14 would be extremely well-spent!

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