On Pinterest I came across this cute ampersand lamp (lampersand!) from Modcloth. There was no way I was paying $90 for it, though. I realized I could make my own for less than $15, and in an afternoon, I did. Here’s how I did it.
My starting points were this and this tutorial from Oh Happy Day. I mostly followed their instructions, though there are some things that I did differently or would change in retrospect.
Spray paint (I used Krylon spray paint in banner red)
String of mini Christmas lights
Hot glue gun
Glue (I used Aleene’s Quick Dry Tacky Glue)
1. Print out the template and tape the four pages together. Cut out the ampersand, then lay it on the foamcore and trace around it.
2. Using the boxcutter, cut the ampersand out of the foam core. A nice sharp boxcutter will make this a lot easier. My edges were all raggedy because my boxcutter was dull, so I had to even them up with scissors.
3. On the back side of the ampersand, lay out your lights and mark where you’ll make the holes for the bulbs. Start from one end and wind the string of lights around the shape, marking the position of each light as you go. Keep in mind that if you want to space a pair of lights out slightly more widely than the space between two bulbs, you can skip one to get the spacing right. (I wish I had spaced mine slightly differently so that they weren’t a bit too close at the top cross.)
4. Make the holes for your bulbs. The Oh Happy Day tutorials recommended an X-acto knife, but I did it with a drill. From the backside, I drilled the holes with a bit slightly smaller than the light bulbs.
5. Cut strips of posterboard 5 inches wide, and use the pencil to draw a line 2 inches from one edge (3 inches from the other), lengthwise, down each strip. You’ll attach the posterboard to the ampersand on this line, so that it sits 2-inches deep on the front. I used a combination of tacky glue and tape (on the back) to attach the strips to the ampersand, but if I were doing it again I’d just use the scotch tape, then reinforce with packing tape. When you reach the end of a strip of posterboard, overlap the edges with another strip of board by about an inch, and glue them together with the tacky glue.
6. I’m not sure if this is because my edges were a little rough from using a dull boxcutter, or if I didn’t fit the strips closely enough against the foamcore, but I had gaps that I was unhappy with. So before I painted, on the front I sealed the edges between the posterboard strips and ampersand with a line of hot glue. Let the glue dry before you paint. You may or may not need to do this step.
7. Paint your letter with several coats of spray paint, and let dry.
8. Poke the lights through the holes. I made the holes snug enough that I didn’t need it, but you might need to use a bit of packing tape to hold them in place on the back. If you have extra lights, you can tape them to the back of the light to hide them from view, and use an extension cord to plug them in.
Plug it in, and enjoy your new light!
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