Scratch built table lamps

by brae  

One of the bigger challenges in decorating a dollhouse in a more contemporary style is the limited amount of contemporary lamps and other accessories on the market.  There are some modern fixtures, but most are brass or old-fashioned.  The table lamp selection can be pretty good, but I wanted to see if I could custom build my own lamps.

I had the bases all figured out just from looking at real life and miniature lamps.  Stack beads, feed a wire through, etc.  Even making shades from paper seemed simple enough, but it was attaching the shades to the bases that had me scratching my head.

Store bought mini lamps usually have a plastic disk holding the bottom of the lamp shade.  I could use acrylic disks, but I would be limited by the pre-cut size of them.  Then I happened upon the handmade lamps by M Carmen at Mini Shabby.  She had used a jewelry finding to hold her shade in place, and it looked like a great idea!  I left her a comment on her blog, and she was kind enough to send me the information on where she found them.

The site was Bindels Ornaments, and let me tell you, they have great items and ideas!  They sell components and kits for lights and accessories in small scale.  They even have pages showing you how they built bottles, lights, trays and candlesticks from jewelry findings.  I bought both the three-prong and four-prong findings, but I found the four-prong worked best for this particular project.

I started with a wood bead base, three copper colored beads, a NovaLyte LED and some miscellaneous jewelry findings.

I first glued the three beads together, using a metal rod to keep them lined up as they dried.  It's not very stable, but it kept them from shifting around while working with them.

I glued the stack of three beads to the wood base.  Again, the metal rod is only to keep things aligned and not glued inside the beads.

I had cut out a groove in the bottom to let the wire out the back and to keep the lamp bottom flat.

I fed a small black wood bead onto the LED wire and then fed the wire through the bead assembly.

The shade is made from a strip of heavy paper 1" wide and 4" long, the ends lapped and glued.

I formed a holder from a fancy head pin and glued it inside the short black bead under the LED.

Unlike how M Carmen made her shade, though, I cut off the four circles on the jewelry finding and used it to support the top of the shade, not the middle.  Since the four-prong holder showed when the light was on, I glued a strip of black quilling paper around the top edge of the paper shade.

Here are the two lamps on either side of the master bed.

I love the way they turned out, and the LEDs provide great light not usually seen in miniature lamps.

I didn't save any money making my own lamps since I used pricier LEDs and had to buy more materials than necessary just for two lamps, but I have unique fixtures in a more contemporary style than what's available on the market.

26 comments

Comment from: Victoria [Visitor]

The lamps are perfect! I think making custom things is almost never about saving money but enjoying the process. I loved the last photo - very realistic.

08/30/10 @ 20:54
Comment from: Margaret [Visitor]

I agree, your lamps do look very realistic, they are great.

08/30/10 @ 21:18
Comment from: Christine [Visitor]

They look so sophisticated! In fact the whole room looks likes something from a real life designer magazine.

08/30/10 @ 23:04
Comment from: Lyssa [Visitor]

I love the little lamps! And thanks for providing info on making them. The Highland doesn’t have wiring, but it will still need these sorts of accessories and I was just puzzling over how to go about it. Great mind to the rescue again!!

08/30/10 @ 23:24
Comment from: Cynthia [Visitor]

Oh, Brae - these lamps are fanTAStic!! What a great design and thanks for the shopping tip - just what I’m looking for. These lamps really give off a realistic light.

08/31/10 @ 00:04
Comment from: The Old Maid [Visitor]

They are beautiful!

08/31/10 @ 00:22
Comment from: Mirel [Visitor]

Your lamps are gorgeous, I agree they look conteporary!

08/31/10 @ 04:07
Comment from: berri [Visitor]

These lamps are amazing! did you get the led light from bindels as well? i couldn’t tell if the ones that they had were led.

08/31/10 @ 05:30
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thanks, everyone! :D I buy my NovaLyte LEDs from Mainly Minis or on eBay from seller tollybarn, depending on who has them in stock.

08/31/10 @ 05:55
Comment from: cunha [Visitor]

hello, this lamps so simply and so beautiful, congratulations.

08/31/10 @ 06:03
Comment from: FLor [Visitor]

¡Wooowww!! Que buen tutorial ¡muchas gracias!
Ya puse tu blog en mis favoritos y no se me escape tus novedades!! ( =
Saludos
Flor

08/31/10 @ 07:25
Comment from: Andrea Thieck [Visitor]

Great! That’s exactly the way, I make my lamps. Bindels ornaments are perfect for it. And I don’t like the lamps you can usually buy. It’s much nicer to make lamps of your own. And yours look awfully good!

08/31/10 @ 08:04

Te han quedado preciosas, muy reales. Besos.

08/31/10 @ 10:42
Comment from: ascension [Visitor]

Un trabajo espectacular, enhorabuena!!!!
La fotografia de la cama y las mesitas con la luz, la tienes que mirar dos veces para poder ver que son miniaturas, maravillosa!!!
besitos ascension

08/31/10 @ 11:08
Comment from: Teresa [Visitor]

El resultado es muy bueno, y es cierto los led hacen una maravillosa iluminación.
Me gusta el aspecto actual que tiene su casa!

08/31/10 @ 12:01
Comment from: Janice Hammett [Visitor]

You have made a beautiful lamp
A wonderful website for modern minis is http://www.elfminiatures.co.uk/

08/31/10 @ 15:43
Comment from: Keli Minick [Visitor]

Nice job!

08/31/10 @ 16:19
Comment from: eloise [Visitor]

incredible! and absolutely beautiful. also i love that they light up too! i just bought some beads after seeing this guy’s work: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mawphoto/3286874790/in/set-72157613503242329/ and am going to try making one myself :-) except without electricity… thank you for sharing this, because your guides are always so wonderfully helpful & clear & inspiring.

08/31/10 @ 18:17
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thank you! I love ELF Miniatures! I have many of their items.

Eloise - that’s a great site - thanks for sharing!

08/31/10 @ 18:32
Comment from: Nancy [Visitor]  

These are FAB !!! I want to make some myself. Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

09/02/10 @ 12:17
Comment from: Maria Jose [Visitor]

Beautiful lamps !

09/02/10 @ 23:53
Comment from: lisa shobhana [Visitor]

i watshed one of my favorite films this weekend, The Graduate, and there was a pair of lamps that looked exactly like these!

09/06/10 @ 19:31
Comment from: Tracy [Visitor]

Can u please tell me what the gold star thing is that holds the shade up? And where u got? Ur work is amazing and thanks for sharing!

01/10/15 @ 04:02
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thank you so much, Tracy! :D The link to the supplier is in the 4th paragraph. I don’t have the exact name or part number, so you’ll have to scout around their site. They have a lot of great items! :yes:

01/15/15 @ 07:20
Comment from: Ann [Visitor]

I love your lamp tutorial because you solve the problem of how to support the lamp shade using what I call the spider jewelry finding. However I ha e looked all over the web and in craft stores for the piece. Any suggestions as to where I might be able to find them? Thanks.

06/17/16 @ 15:40
Comment from: brae [Member]

Thanks, Ann! I have a link to Bindels Ornaments above. The last time I checked, they were on the “Ornamenten 5″ page, but they may move their supply lists around. :D

06/18/16 @ 08:07


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