Remember My Lamp?

October 18, 2011

Me too!

Just in case you don’t remember, I have been working on a “steampunk” themed lamp for the past…oh let’s say 3 months.

And it’s not because I have been hard at work looking for the right kind of material, making plans, or cutting and welding pipe. It all because I’m a lazy bum that doesn’t manage to finish what he starts.

Well, the past weekend, I committed a little more than I usually do and actually made some more progress!

Now it is officially glued and painted. See for yourself.

Annnnd from another angle…

Yeah, it looks like a real mismatch of pieces and parts. It even looks pretty coppery (if that’s even a word). So i’m thinking it meeting my idea and my theme. So there is at least one goal accomplished.

For those of you who still have no idea what my original plan was, allow me to explain. If you notice the base of the lamp itself (notice the brass colored fixture in mid front) is going to seperate from the lamp shade. This is unique because lamp shades are usually connected to the light fixture by some shade support build into the fixture. This lamp will not have a shade connected in this manner.

Instead, the shade will be dangling above the bulb via an long extension of pipe that takes an upside down L shape from behind and moving forward on the lamp. (It’s the seemingly useless part reaching up into the sky).

In my exploratory project here I found out why my plan really wasn’t a very good one. Or, maybe I was just a little too ambitious for a first try.


It is much easier to center a lamp shade position when it’s always connected and centered to the light bulb itself. As you will notice in the photo above, the hanging pipe for the shade is about an inch and a half to two inches behind the base of the bulb.


This is not only going to make to process longer to complete (because it must be corrected), but it also jeopardizes the whole integrity for the support pipe of the shade. I will have to add an extension and that could add too much weight and make the whole contraption bow or bend.

All in all, I think this is just one teensy little problem that can be smoothed over soon enough.

Another problem I had earlier was picking out a lamp shade to go with this thing. And I did that! It’s a utensil carrier/holder that you would usually see in school lunchrooms. I think the color and the size are just about right. Plus it also has holes which will make it look more… cool… I guess. (By the way, I picked this little thing up from Ikea while I purchased my big ol’ picture frame last weekend.)

Oh yeah, I have a picture of that too!

Yeah, I think that’ll do juuuuust fine. (Truthfully, I’m just happy to finally pick something to cover of this thing.) I’m not sure if I will line the interrior of the shade with a paper/material to help “soften” the light as it exits those holes. And that’s just a small decision that I will make when I’m about to put the thing in its final position.

Still, there is one more thing. A big thing. And the big thing is the small things. Detail.

My photos don’t really show this problem, but maybe you noticed it. The color of the whole thing is not what I really want. It doesn’t look like I’ve made this thing from copper. I’ve been many hours researching and playing around with different mixtures of color on how to create a “patina” on copper in order to make it look more genuine, yet there is no success. I have no idea how I will accomplish this goal.

Keep in mind I made this whole kaboodle out of CPVC pipe. (I didn’t want to spend nearly $50 and risk burning my fingers off trying to assemble a real one.) Since it’s just black and copper spray paint, I want to find a way to make it look more… messy. More dirty. More real. Even though it’s about as fake as a seven toed wallaby I want it to look as natural as possible.

And I just can’t figure it out. I’m not sure what to do.

I may end up just completing the thing as is and worry about little details later. (But more likely I will say ‘done is done’ and never touch it again.) But I guess I should just be happy if I even finish the thing.

Anyway, sleepy time she comes,


Go ahead. Guess.

I’ll wait.


You done guessing yet?

All I did was play some Bioshock 2, ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and saved a child from drowning at sea.

Nothing too much really.

Okay, you’re right, one of those is a lie.

Actually, I did this:


Lamp Dry Fit

That’s right! I did it! My lamp is nearing completion!

Well, it’s not even close to done yet, I just dry fitted the pieces together just to make sure everything worked correctly. Not to mention, despite my elaborate plans of construction, most of the design was thought up on the spot. Still though, progress has occurred.

So, please excuse me while I geek out about this thing for a post and then you can come back tomorrow and read a short story.

This is a rough look at the lamp I am building. It’s made of CPVC pipe. I haven’t glued it together yet because I’m afraid of making a permanent mistake. That, and I have  33 other steps in order to complete before I glue it.

Now, keep in mind, this is supposed to be a steampunk lamp. It will probably get shunned by the steampunk community once I finish it, but that’s alright because It’s just going to light up my bedroom anyway, so it doesn’t matter how other people feel about it. I’m going for a copper pipe look, but without the gigantic cost of copper pipe.

By the way, you’re looking at 10 feet of pipe. Yeah, I said 10 feet of pipe. That’s exactly 5 feet of 3/4″ and 5 feet of 1/2″ pipe. I chose CPVC because it was cheaper to buy fittings for. The dimensions are roughly 14″ (width), 14″ (deep), and 24″ (height). You may be able to tell, but just in case you can’t, a shade will hang over the bulb from the pipe that seems to reach into the air for no reason. The bulb will be placed in the open ended pipe directly underneath the hanging pipe. Voila, lamp.

Now the real delimma is trying to decide how I’m going to paint it. Today I commited to buying some spray paint and had to make a hard decision at the store. They didn’t have copper spray paint (even though I know it exists). So I picked up some “aged/antiqued gold” which is pretty much the same as copper minus the red and shiny qualities. Here are a few of my color tests for proof.

normal pipe fitting

This is just a test pipe fitting that I’m using as a color and paint test. This was soon sanded down with 200 grit sandpaper. This was done until there was no more gloss on the outside. It had been recommended to me that sanding would create more surface area for the paint to stick to, and the more that sticks is the more that stays on. I decided to put on a primer coat  and make it black (because everybody online says that black primer will hide any ink on the pipe as well as add to the effect of the copper.


Now this is the appearance of the “copper” paint. I put some pennies next to it to show the difference in color. I’m actually pretty pleased with color. I think it will make it seem like the copper was aged a little bit. The downside is that it won’t have that copper sheen or luster. I guess the other downside is if somebody who is a color nazi sees it they will probably say, “That looks like bronze, not copper.” That’s also when I hit them over the head with my fake copper spray paint and tell them that they need to lighten up.

Now, you have to trust me on this when I say it actually looks more like copper in person. I guess it is kind of lacking a redishness to it as well, but up close, and with no pennies next to it, it passes as a copper color. Anyway, I’m still going to see if there will be a way I can make it look more aged or used. I’ve even read online that I can add a green patina on the sharp corners to make it look more like it’s been living under a basement for a few years.

In related news:

I tried buying a lamp shade earlier this week, but that fell through when I realized that the shade looked pretty… girly.

Yeah, I’m a dude building a lamp and all, but I don’t want this thing to look girly. I want it to look like it should reside in some mad scientist’s lab. A mad scientist with a particularly long white beard. I realize that this thought is a little foolish, but hey, my imagination works in ways that even I don’t understand sometimes. So just bear with me.

Any recommendations for a lamp shade and/or painting tips to make it seem more aged would be deeply appreciated.

While I’m pretty ancy to get this thing put together, I’m still going to try and make sure that slow down and do things right. I’m pretty confident that I will be able to make the thing actually work and be functional and all, but will it look good? I dunno.

I suppose if I really mess this thing up, I’ll just try again.

More to follow,