Wednesday, May 4, 2011

10. Sewing Pattern Light shade

Light is a funny thing isn't it. Too much light hurts our eyes, gives us a headache, or in the case of my 3 year old son, sends us into complete hysterics. Too little light is irritating beyond belief. Especially in the kitchen or when trying to read a good book. 

Lighting has come a long way since I was a child. There were no environmentally friendly bulbs for a start. In my house we didn't have "mood lighting" or dimmer switches, there were no purpose built lights aimed at paintings or fairy lights dotted jauntily about the house. Burglars could creep about undetected if they chose to, for there were no high powered security lights to catch them and blind them in the eyes. If you wanted to go to the loo in the night you'd better be prepared to stub your big toe because there certainly weren't any low wattage night lights lining the hallway.  

I'm married to someone obsessed with the notion of "Good Light" which is rather an ambiguous concept really.  "Bad Light" can send him into a temper.  I myself like "Pretty Light". I like patterns on walls for instance, the soft glow of a candle, and the annual surprise of Christmas lights when they're switched on for the first time of the season.

This home made light shade ticks two boxes for me. It uses recycled materials and is really cheap to make. It also casts patterns on the walls so I guess it can tick the "pretty light" box too.  This is a project the kids will love to make with you, it's loads of fun and will take you back to your days of finger painting and mud pies.

1 paper sewing pattern from an op shop or recycle one you no longer want.
PVA glue
A large glass or plastic bowl
Plastic wrap

Here we go...

Set up your work table with some newspaper or a plastic sheet. This is messy!

Turn your bowl upside down and cover in plastic wrap making sure you don't leave any gaps.

Mix your cornstarch with water and some PVA. I'm a bit spontaneous with things like this so my method was: shake in some cornstarch, put some water from the tap onto it, slosh it about, squeeze a dollop of PVA on top and mix.  If you need the measurements I'd say 1/4C cornstarch to 1C water and 1/4 C PVA should do it. Wallpaper paste would also work really well.

Lay out your patterns in front of you. I had some nice blue ones mixed in with the white so I kept those for my top layer.  White patterns work better than the beige ones because they'll let more light through.

At this stage you can rip large pieces into smaller ones if you wish.

Now for the messy part. Try to get into the zone.. don't worry about the stickiness of it, or the fact that it's splattering onto your new top.  It'll all wash out - promise.

Dip your pattern pieces into your cornstarch gloop and spread it over the bowl.  Try and go for 3 even layers and smooth out any bubbles that appear. Do an extra couple of layers on the top when you'll be cutting through later on.

Once you're done leave it to dry for a good 24 hours on a piece of plastic so it doesn't stick to the surface.  Once it's completely dry grab a butter knife and gently (gently!) slide the knife around in between the paper and the bowl. It should loosen and come off relatively easily.

Now you get to decide where to put it! I left my raw, but the next one I make will be fancier with fringe along the bottom. You can cut out the top and use it as a lampshade or attach it over a light shade for a main light. Just make sure your paper isn't touching anything hot, ecobulbs are of course, best.

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