I’m in the middle of making a light shade. Needless to say, my recent trip to France and Italy has delayed that project, but I have a new shade nevertheless. While I was researching what type of shade to make I came across the lotus design made from polypropylene and briefly considered making one of those (there’s a project on Instructables) instead of using up my stock of electrical conduit. Until I realised that it’s cheaper to buy a kit than to buy enough polyprop sheet to make a shade from scratch, and cutting out all the little pieces accurately without a laser cutter would be very time consuming. So I ordered one from eBay for the princely sum of £6.51.
It arrived while we were away and I lost no time in ripping open the packet. Inside were lots of bits of polypropylene, plus the fittings for a whole light.
I thought I’d just bought a shade, but there was a pendant lampholder and even a ceiling rose. As they were quite cheap-looking silvery metal and the flex was only 2-core (ie no earth wire), I ditched them and just made up the shade part.
The first problem was there were no instructions in the package. I found some on the internet and was pleased to discover by examining the kit that the shade would work equally well either way up. All the supplier’s eBay photos show it with the lotus petals pointing upwards, which looks pretty but frankly the thing is going to be enough of a dust trap without that.
The next issue was that the rectangular piece which is rolled into a cylinder to form the centre of the shade had developed a bend from being folded to fit into the packet, something that was cured by ironing it with a very cool iron between two sheets of paper. The final preparation task was to poke out all the little slots and tabs, most of which had not been completely cut out, and rub the rough edges off the circular pieces that fit into the top and bottom of the cylinder. Then I was ready to start assembling, a process which took me 50 minutes. I like to think I’m fairly dexterous from decades of knitting, sewing and other crafts, so goodness knows how long it would take a ham-fisted person to make this light.
One of the reasons why it is so cheap is that it is somewhat smaller than the usual lotus shades. It has only three rows of differently sized petals, seven per row, whereas larger ones typically have eight petals in 4, 5 or even 6 rows. The large shades would look wonderfully dramatic at the top of a staircase or in some other tall space, but perhaps a little over the top for our newly redecorated bedroom. I’m happy with it the size it is, fortunately, and delighted with how it has turned out. It looks great at night and the semi opaque polyprop does a good job of diffusing the light.
It’s a reasonable facsimile of the sort of high-end lights that come from Scandinavian designers and are found in hipster bars, hotels and restaurants. And I like the fact that it’s 100% plastic, which means I can take it down and give it a wash under the tap when it gets dusty. You wouldn’t want to put anything other than a low voltage compact fluorescent or LED bulb in it though.
Now all I have to do is finish the conduit shade to go at the top of the stairs.