How I Make Paper Mache Lamps – Guest Post

paper mache lamp tn ©2015 Matsa

Hello Jonni and all,

My (nick) name is Matsa, I’m 68-year old granny whose children and grand children live far away, so as a lawyer-pensioner I have plenty of time for my many hobbies and passions… Over time, they were changing from sewing and knitting to translations, then from making jewelry to painting to decoupage to mix media, just to name a few. But, I especially love to renovate, restore or alter old things.

And this have lately led me to another: to re-use, re-purpose, recycle the things we throw everyday like (news)paper, cardboard, plastic bottles, glass…
My website is still under construction and I’m adding my stuff there slowly, step by step…

A big thank you, Jonni for this opportunity, for all your instructions, and especially for the paper-mache clay recipe. I’ve learnt a lot of things here in your site!

How I Make My Lamps

I’ve experimented for months with pm clay and still don’t have my ‘final.’ Sometimes it gets cracks when drying, but it’s not a big deal, cracks can even give new inspirational solutions. The ‘culprit’ probably could be that I don’t have joint compound (can not be found here in Belgrade, Serbia). Nevertheless, I manage somehow with what I can get (a kind of paste/filler for ceramic tiles or fugenmasse in German)… There’s only one way to do it: try it out over and over again.

I’m still a newbie and my main challenge is recycling/up-cycling, so I make the clay with toilet paper rolls. I really enjoy making small things from it (like bowls, pendants, beads), but I’d like to share here what I consider my best item – table lamps.
Since the picture is worth 1000 words I’m adding a few to describe the making:

Make a Paper Mache Table Lamp, First Steps
Make a Paper Mache Table Lamp, First Steps
Lamp Body
Lamp Body
Lamp Fittings
Lamp Fittings

Assembling the Lamp Parts
Assembling the Lamp Parts
Socket and Shade Support
Socket and Shade Support

A few more thoughts:

The shades are ready-made (I buy them in Chinese stores, similar to dollar stores) and then paint and decorate them to match the lamp – usually with decoupage, pieces of old lace, dried leaves or anything that comes to mind.

Keep in mind that there are two different sizes of bulbs, fittings/holders, shade’s openings, so they all need to be of the same size (here in Serbia and most of Europe there are two standards: E14 and E27)

In the end, before gluing the dowel into the bottle opening, I dip thoroughly a few rocks in a silicon paste and carefully throw them one by one to the bottom for better stability of the lamp. And of course, I let silicon dry for a whole day, just in case…

Finished Paper Mache Lamp
Finished Paper Mache Lamp

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21 thoughts on “How I Make Paper Mache Lamps – Guest Post

    • I am a newbie crafter and would like to start with a pm clay “vase” for a dried flower arrangement (no need to water proof)
      Could you please let me know whether the lamp body is plastic or glass?
      Would/does the pm clay “stick” to glass? I wanted to use a large cylindrical glass vase as the mold and make it look like a tree trunk (bark)
      Thanks for your help.
      Regards,
      Susan

      • Hi Susan. I’m not the one who made this lamp, but I can say something about the pm clay and glass. I would wrap the glass with masking tape first, just to make sure it sticks. The pm clay will shrink slightly, and will try to shrink. It may pull apart as it shrinks, causing small cracks. If the masking tape is on, it will still stay where it belongs, and the cracks can be repaired with a bit more pm clay over the top. If there’s no masking tape, some of the pm clay may fall off when it dries. But I haven’t actually tried this, so I’m just making an educated guess.

        Have fun with your project. I hope you’ll show it to us when it’s done.

        • Thank you so much for your response, Jonnie – I really appreciate it. I will definitely let you know if that works for me and I will send pictures. Regards, Susan

  1. What a clever ideal. The lamp is so lovely! I wanted to ask about: the materials you use are very light weight, does it tip over easily? Also what type of bulb do you recommend?
    I really enjoyed your Tutorial. I look forward to more.
    Sincerely ,
    Bonnie

    • Thank you Bonnie,
      The weight is relatively light, but that’s why I add, throw to the bottom a few rocks dipped in silicon paste (maybe hot glue or some other glue can be used instead, but I prefer construction silicon paste applied with a kind of pistol).
      Also, I use E14 bulb, 40W max since it fits the lamp shade I can find here. All these depend on where you live and what is available.
      If you want you might check this page http://www.maxxbag.com/lamps.html (of my site still under construction). It features more lamps.

      • Thanks for your reply. I really love your lamps. What a great way to recycle and have fun in the process too.? I thought of one more question I wanted to ask. Do you use napkins or pictures to decorate your lamps? Or do you paint all the designs? Either way, they are beautiful. I would like to try this but my painting needs more practice.
        Please send more projects that you do. They really inspire me to find ways to turn my trash into treasures.
        Sincerely,
        Bonnie

        • Yes, I usually use napkins or pictures and sometimes only correct or emphasize the details by painting.
          Also I add/glue pieces of lace/doily (previously painted with desired colour) or make a shape from thin piece of pm clay (with cookie cutter – the way you make cookies from dough) and by tapping carefully plaster it on the lamp when its body is still wet. It’s easier to do it than to describe it! 🙂
          On the example photo below, the butterfly is made of pm clay with cookie cutter and the ‘Tiffany’ motif is black&white pattern-drawing on printing paper, cut out, glued on and then painted to my liking:

  2. Thank you girls for your lovely comments, they give a new boost to my energy 🙂
    @ Janet: “It’s never too late…” keeps me feeling alive and out of inevitable life crisis we all have from time to time

  3. Hi
    You are certainly a motivating force for me.I also make crafts but after retirement I became lazy and just sit ideal.Now I shall restart . Thanks.

  4. Clever! I love your use of ‘found’ objects, and your willingness to share your idea. Thank you for sharing your technique and your photos of such a lovely lamp. (Thank you too Jonni for sharing this post with us). Bless you both.

  5. How unique and creative, Matsa! Thank you SO much for sharing your talent with us! I am in my mid fifties so it is very encouraging to me that women like yourself and Jonni are still pursuing and sharing your gifts with all of us! God bless you both….and all of the other artists on here!

  6. What a clever idea, and so well-thought out and clearly illustrated. Thanks for sharing. I may just try this once I finish my current project.

  7. What a lovely lamp! How you coordinated the lamp and the shade is so pretty! Nice to have something that is one of a kind:-) Thanks for the post.

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