How To Make A Paper Mache Light Fitting – Part 1

1 Jan

Today, as I was rushing out the door to pick up the kids, I caught a glimpse of my studio and this is what I saw:


It filled me with joy. It’s not as if I have actually finished a piece or that there is anything to show off, but is its quite clear that in this tiny tiny room, work is being done.

What you can’t see here is the piles that are all over the place.

There are piles of newspaper, of plastic bags and of half ready materials. A lot of my time is spending moving piles from one spot to another, but that is not what I wanted to talk about today.

Today I wanted to talk about Paper Mache.

I think I have already mentioned that one of the things that bothers me most about my house, is that I don’t have a single light fitting in the entire house. All we have is bare light bulbs.

The bareness of the light bulbs makes this house feel very temporary. It has reached the point that any material is, as far as I am concerned, a potential light fitting.

A while ago, while surfing the net I ran into some instruction for making light fittings out of Paper Mache pulp using beach balls as a mold. The instructions where removed so I can’t link to them, and since I had a Paper Mache outbreak a couple of years ago,  although I am no specialist, I was able to figure it out without the instructions.

I made the pulp out of the newspaper sticks I had disqualified, and the first batch was exactly enough for one big beach ball.

Newspaper Soup

Newspaper soup

Making the pulp is a pretty easy:

 Cut/tear newspaper into small pieces and soak in water over night.

  1. Boil the newspapers for about half an hour, when you are ready to start working.
  2. Pour out the dirty water, exchanging it with clean water.
  3. Pull out the blender, and start blending the newspaper with large quantities of water.
  4. Strain the blended pulp, squeezing out as much water as possible.
  5. Add glue to the strained pulp. I use wallpaper glue, but there are a few variations to the glue. It’s a matter of personal preference.
  6. Kneed the glue into the pulp till it’s velvety and nice to touch.


I have big eyes, and of course I wouldn’t settle for the small beach balls I had bought. After I inflated one, it seemed to small, so I rushed out to by a regular size beach ball. It seems as if beach balls are the kind of thing that is found in abundance when not needed. When you need one, it’s a whole different story.

Anyway, starting with the big ball was a mistake. I am not sure if the consistency of the pulp was off, or if the thickness of the layer I was using was to blame to, but the big one is the only one out of the three that I have made so far that hasn’t come out near perfect. It cracked and warped all over.


The other two smaller balls were made from another batch of pulp I made, which makes me think it might be the amount of glue that I used on the big one was to blame.

Anyway, I think that both the big ball and the little balls have a  certain coolness to them.

I have always liked to watch as materials changed and mutated as they were worked with. This is seven fold as wonderful when you transform a product into material and then into a different product again.

Although I am quite please with my balls (that doesn’t sound good) I am not going to hang them with their current grayness in my house.

 I am going to make a few more of them and test several finishes out, till I find one that wins me over enough for me to hang a fitting with that finish over my dinning room table.
To be continued.


6 Responses to “How To Make A Paper Mache Light Fitting – Part 1”

  1. Julie @ Outtakes on the Outskirts January 2, 2012 at 6:05 pm #

    I love this idea but have one concern – isn’t this a fire hazard? I think it would work with CFL bulbs since they don’t put out a lot of heat, but I wouldn’t use this on traditional incandescent bulbs.

    • Ruth January 2, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

      I don’t think it is. First of all incandescent bulbs are getting rarer and rarer, most places used CFL bulbs, and so do I. Even if I didn’t, there have been paper light shades around for ever. IKEA has those lovely standing lamps and one of the cheapest kind of light fittings you can by is a ball shaped paper one on metal wire. (Chinese or Japanese, and very common.) I think If you use incandescent bulbs you would need to be careful not to use to high a wattage.
      In European terms, 6o W would be about as high as you could safely go.

      • Julie @ Outtakes on the Outskirts January 2, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

        Good point that the incandescents are getting rarer. I use the CFLs too and I love them. I had completely forgotten about the paper lanterns until you mentioned them. I’m excited to see how this project turns out!

  2. Sue January 2, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    Hi Ruth, I have been making paper mache for a very long time, so I thought I’d leave a suggestion for you. Add some white paper to the newsprint (recycled envelopes work well if you remove the celephane window, and add some wood glue to the mixture..this will give you a sturdier body that is less likely to crack or break. There are also fire retardent sprays you can use to make sure your lamp is safe. I can’t wait to see how your lamps turn out!

    • Ruth January 3, 2012 at 7:48 am #

      Hi Sue, do you add the wood glue along with the wallpaper glue?
      I will try this.
      Thanks for commenting, I appreciate the tip 🙂


  1. Paper Mache Planter « upcyclingruth - April 28, 2012

    […] long time ago, back in the dark of winter, I wrote a post called How To Make A Paper Mache Light Fitting – Part 1 and never wrote part […]

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