I was just imagining how my friend Matthew, who is a gifted paper artist, might design a light out of a paper shade and hanging bulb were he given the challenge, when I came across some free, origami-like down-loadable plans on the internet. They are the “gift” of Arash and Kelly, an industrial design studio with a mission “to help to re-connect our global culture”. A video of their Octopus light being made gives a sense that this is really something an anyone might improvise upon.

But even more inspiring and full-of-info is a video of a light for which they don’t give exact plans, but do show the assembly of: plastic leaves with perforations along the edges that “zip” together to make a number of configurations. It made me think: “There’s a great approach to d-i-y lights and shades”: find the right plastic and use a paper punch and Exacto knife to create a similar zipper effect. In my mind, I started to splice together the videos and the down-loadable plans into all sorts of homemade lighting possibilities.


What materials to use? Arash and Kelly mention polypropylene, which must be the translucent plastic in the video. That got me looking into just what polypropylene is and where to find it. Buried in Wikipedia’s very technical info, this description caught my eye: “The light weight, durable and colorful plastic makes an ideal medium for the creation of light shades and a number of designs have been developed using interlocking sections to create elaborate designs.” You can buy 1/16-inch sheets at Grainger, (a supplier of all sorts of esoteric industrial stuff “For the ones who get it done.”)

Arash and Kelly also mention using A1 card but I’m thinking a flame-retardant paper would be good, just in case the bulb happens to touch the shade. I had to wade through page after Google pages of 1000 foot rolls until I came across flame-resistant construction paper.

I’m going to buy some polypropylene and see what it inspires.

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3 replies on “are you a secret lighting designer?

  1. Set Shop carries flame-resistant set paper. Fewer colors available than regular seamless photo backdrop paper, but still a big range. It’s a 9′ roll, but they will cut it into thirds for a small charge.

  2. Thanks a million, Matthew.

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