Remake a Blockbuster Lamp From Movie Film

photo of bottle wall

Old movie film is not the most common material to have lying around your house. When I recently got my hands on a roll, the upcycled gears started turning in my head. I was working on a DIY project for World Maker Faire in New York City this weekend, so a filmstrip to lampshade project created the perfect new release for this major motion picture event.

If you’re in New York this weekend, Maker Faire is not to be missed! The event is a huge celebration of geekdom. Over 600 makers, hackers, designers, and innovators will be there showing off their field of expertise. Design your own 3D printed model, learn how to solder a circuitboard, knit a cozy for the NYSci rocketship, see aerialists fly through the air, and much much more. It’s like a science fair on steroids!

I’ll be at the Maker Square Stage this Saturday, September 21 at 11 a.m. showing off this project! Plus the first 25 people to my demo will receive their own kit to create a gift bow from movie film — simple to make, but still a blockbuster hit.

Since movie film isn’t the easiest material to come by, this project translates just as well from old 35mm film negatives. If your negatives are too short, you can always tape them together with clear tape. Or check your local architectural salvage shop like Resource Exchange or Film Recycling Biz on the east coast.

Ebay and Craigslist are also great places to source these unique materials. I often get asked if movie film is safe to touch. It sure is. The material base is cellulose acetate (oddly enough, the same material used to create cigarette butts). And while the film uses chemicals in processing, it comes out A-Ok with minimal chemicals. As with all light fixtures, you should never leave it unattended (which saves energy, too!). With this particular one, it’s best to use a low-watt, low-heat bulb, like a CFL or LED.

Hope to see you at the Faire! And if you can’t MAKE it there, we still love seeing what you’ve Made + Remade here!

photo of bottle wall

photo of bottle wall

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Step 1

 Open Galleryillustration of lampshade

Prepare your lampshade by removing any fabric so that just the metal frame remains. 

Step 2

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Place the frame on a flat surface. Take the filmstrip and wrap one layer of the filmstrip around the edge of the frame. Make a complete loop with the film strip, overlapping the end by 1” and trimming.  

Step 3

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Use this length of filmstrip to cut 5 to 10 more strips, depending on the desired height of your shade. I used 6 lengths for a small shade. 

Step 4

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Loop one length of filmstrip snugly around the frame and secure the overlapped section with a brad. Then clip the filmstrip onto the frame with binder clips.  

Step 5

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Use the plastic lace to secure the filmstrip onto the frame, using a whip stitch-type lacing method, looping through the holes on the filmstrip edge, around the frame, and back through the holes on the filmstrip edge. 

Step 6

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Take a second loop of filmstrip and overlap one line of holes. Using brads, connect the two strips together in several spots around the perimeter.  

Step 7

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Weave the plastic lace in and out through the overlapped area, securing the two strips together. Overlap the last loop with the first and trim off the ends.  

Step 8

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Continue weaving the strips until you have your desired height of shade.  

Step 9

 Open Galleryillustration of filmstrip

Optional: If your original lampshade was cylindrical in shape and you have a second frame ring, you can attach this piece now. To attach, use the same method of lacing as you used in step 5. Place your lampshade onto your fixture and this new lamp is ready for its big debut! 

Materials

Tools

  • scissors
  • ruler
  • binder clips
  • brads
About Tiffany Threadgould 

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I am a design junkie who gives scrap materials a second life and the head of design at TerraCycle, a company that collects and creates products from waste. My ...

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