How to Make a Paper Motion Lamp

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Motion lamps move because their light bulbs generate heat.
Motion lamps move because their light bulbs generate heat. (Image: Light bulb image by Mart61 from Fotolia.com)

Motion lamps feature a printed microfilm or paper cylinder set over a small light bulb. The cylinder is attached to a round metal plate at the top with fanlike sails cut into it. The heat from the light bulb turns the metal plate and the paper cylinder. The printing on the paper may be a nature scene or a design that mimics movement like flames or waves, or the lamp may project light through silhouettes cut into black paper. You can make one of these lamps easily at home as an addition to your decor or as a rainy-day project for your children.

Place the flat, wood disc lamp base in the center of your aluminum pie tin. Trace around the base with a permanent marker. Remove the base and cut out the aluminum circle.

Make a dot in the center of your aluminum circle. Use a ruler to draw lines that section the circle into eighths. Poke through the hole in the center and cut along the lines with your utility knife, starting about ¼ inch from the center hole and stopping ¼ inch from the edge.

Push down on each of your slits, creating fan sails. Snip ¼ inch wide fringes into the edges of your aluminum circle and bend them downward. Set the aluminum circle aside.

Drive a screw into your wooden lamp base about ½ inch from the center. The screw head should have about enough space underneath to admit the edge of a nickel.

Snip away the bottom portion of a wire hanger. Wrap one end of the resulting wire under the screw head from step 4. Bend the wire up with pliers so it stands vertically. About 7 inches up the wire, bend the wire at a 90 degree angle. Bend it at a second 90 degree angle about one inch from the first bend. The result should be an L-shape. Nip the wire about 1 inch from the second 90 degree angle.

Draw or paint your desired design onto a piece of paper. Allow it to dry. Spray a heat-proof transparency with spray adhesive and press your paper onto it. Allow the glue to dry for about an hour.

Bend your paper into a cylinder with the transparency inside. Secure the edges with paperclips and fit your aluminum circle into the top of the cylinder, adjusting the cylinder to fit snugly around the circle. Glue the circle into place and glue the edges of the cylinder together. Allow it to dry overnight.

Screw a light bulb into your disc base. Set your shade over the light bulb, feeding the top of the wire through the hole in the center of the aluminum circle. Turn on your lamp and watch the shade spin.

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