Enamored by the eco-simplicity of these cardboard pendant lampshades, I snapped a photo when I was in Anthropologie earlier this year. Covertly. From under wing. The pendants they had for sale were seemingly flawless, as if the pieces of cardboard were cut by laser beams or an uber-synchronized machine, yet seemed simply constructed with just a few materials, hence the mad-eco-recycled love it emanated.
So perfect that it kind of made my arm hair stand on end.
But priced between $100-200, I passed. I thought I could explore out how to recreate the shade (originally designed by Joe Manus), and that’s exactly what I set out to do.
I’ve been seeing some people post Anthropologie’s interpretations on Pinterest too. Pretty + fun. Hoopy + organic. Bonus, I wouldn’t have to use stain or paint if I didn’t want to, which right now classifies it as a big win (tired of brush cleaning lately, yo).
Backtrack for un momento:
Early in the summer I picked up a glass lamp base from Charlotte General Store (my favorite local salvage shop that I wrote about here). It was pretty in yellow, but a little ragged out. I liked the overall shape of it and since it had all the working pieces (wires, halo, etc.) I knew it would be something I could try and repurpose. Plus, it only cost a couple of bucks, so no big investment if I never got around to it or made it look worse.
I spent the hottest day of the summer cleaning the thin coat of yellow enamel off with alcohol and a razor blade, exposing a pretty glass bubble. It was 95 degrees with 95% humidity which is why I’m a little sunburned and look like a drowned opossum (ironically, today we’re scheduled for a high of 53 and I’m envious for that August heat index).
With glass that was now so clean-clean, I also spray painted the other parts of the lamp a sleek white (some of it shown here):
Now that the lamp components have been laying around for 3 months, I decided to forge ahead with a new DIY’ed lamp shade, and thought the cardboard and plywood design might complement it. After all, if it didn’t work, it’s easy enough to buy or make something new.
I started with cardboard. Lots of cardboard. I didn’t realize we were such cardboard box hoarders, but between what was in the attic and garage, I actually had enough (f-r-e-e) to sustain this entire project. Bonus, it was a nice little clean-out/recycling effort.
The scale of the glass lamp was really similar to my current living room lights, which lead me to plan on making a similarly-sized shade, so I tested a few different mixing bowls until I found this, a wok lid (or some kitchen-liddy) that was a similar diameter. 13.5″, if you’re curious. (Note: I made that driftwood lamp and the ivory and black shade too. See it here.)
I traced the edge of that lid onto the cardboard as efficiently as possible to create 46 circles, which I then carefully sliced out with a utility knife.
It was already quite apparent that Joe Manus had masterful technologies (or patience) on his side, because my cardboard cut-outs were a bit snaggier than his smooth, flawless, non-squished pieces, despite having used a sharp-sharp blade and swapping out periodically for a new one. Also, my cardboard was not all the same stock, nor was each hoop cut from a perfectly flat sheet because I wanted to work with what I had. In the end, I don’t think it made much of a difference, but you can tell that the cardboard widths are slightly different. (Shown are 25 of the total 46 that were cut with a utility knife).
To remove the center of each circle, I chose a smaller mixing bowl, traced it centered on each piece of cardboard, and cut out the smaller circle with the utility knife. Yes, it took awhile to cut 46 hoops.
Because the Anthropologie pendant variety features a plywood top and bottom hoop, I recreated that same look with a piece of 36″x16″x21/32″ wood from the Lowe’s paneling section; at only $7.95, it was the least expensive quality but good enough to get the job done. After all, since I had a generous amount of lumber to work with for two small circles, I could avoid those bigger knots by working around them, knowing that they wouldn’t be prominent in the final product.
Once stenciled, I used a jigsaw to make the circular cut that I needed. When it came time to cut out the center of the wood circle, I drilled a 3/8″ hole to accommodate the jigsaw bit and made cut from the inside of the hoop (slowly) so as not to damage the circle itself. Same exact wok lid and mixing bowl stencils were used for this part of the project.
When I made the top plywood hoop, I carefully carved a built-in structure directly into the wood hoop so I didn’t have to create a separate mechanism to attach the shade to the lamp halo. Not bad for a novice jigsaw-er. Tips: I can’t emphasize going slowww and clamp that sucker down well. Avoid every urge to hold the hoop with your hands because you will probably jigsaw off your fingers.
I didn’t lose fingers. It was coming together nicely. As the Anthropologie store model would lead me to believe, dowels woven from top to bottom hold the pieces in frame and lock the entire lampshade together. Easier planned than executed. For one thing, drilling straight through thin pieces of cardboard with a chunky 3/8″ bit was tough. The holes needed to be that large to accommodate the 3/8″ dowel that I bought, and cardboard and drill bits don’t really mix.
I somehow managed, wrestling each of the __ hoops into a locked position on the dowel and drilled the opposite side of the hoops the same way until I was left with a completely locked together hunk of cardboard and dowel. Note: The Anthro model had four dowels. Mine, not so large, and me, not so patient, kept it simple with two dowels.
The ends of the dowels, of course, matched up with holes that I drilled in the plywood circles; I didn’t drill all of the way through that plywood, just 1/2″ in with my 3/8″ drill bit to give the dowel a little plywood cave to sit in. By only partially drilling through, it also provided a little bit of wiggle room if the plywood needed to be adjusted and re-drilled to align perfectly with the dowels and circles. By my second try, I got it right but there’s no evidence in my finished piece that anything was mis-drilled.
Clamped overnight, wood glue holds the top and bottom plywood pieces directly to the dowels. A hole in the center of the shade top allowed me to slip the shade directly onto the small screw on top of the halo (the decorative halo topper that usually holds the shade in place was not reinstalled).
I photographed it first in the living room, but in real-life it will live in the bedroom; we didn’t have any bedside table lamps on the CB2 Harvey Lobsters, so this suits well and is a nicely-scaled piece for the space. Subtle but interesting.
It’s a little bit more compact than the Anthropologie model when it comes to the spacing between the pieces of cardboard (in that first image at the top of the post) but I’m OK with that. If you’re not, it could be remedied in two ways: use longer dowels and space out the cardboard hoops, or cut out a few pieces of cardboard.