DIY Light Orb with Doilies

Finished DIY Doily Lamp

Welcome to my first blog post! It’s been a long time coming, and yet it feels like a new creation. I am constantly searching the internet to find ways to turn my ideas into reality, and now I’m stepping into the role of providing that tool. The first one being a DIY Light Orb made with Doilies.

I’ve always enjoyed anything to do with the Rehabbing House and Garden, and I really love to use what I have on hand to create something new. A few years back I started a love affair with lamps, and I started collecting broken lamps, or cool things that I could turn into lamps such as an antique toaster, chandeliers, etc. My friends even supported this love affair by leaving miscellaneous lamp parts on my front porch while I was away!

When I was giving a facelift to Zach’s laundry room, I needed three light fixtures, which I didn’t have, but then I remembered a stack of doilies in my supply closet (which is really like my hoarder’s closet because I stash anything cool that I could use for a later date in there). Remember that antique toaster I mentioned? Well, when I bought it, I had a vision that I would make a lampshade out of doilies, but the motivation hadn’t hit me yet, so I thought, Why not use the doilies for these light fixtures?


It turned out to be a pretty easy project, but there was some significant trial and error. I hope I have taken most of that out of this process so you can do this project with joy and ease.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR DIY LIGHT WITH DOILIES

Doilies

Balloons (get thick nice ones)

Wallpaper glue

Paint brush

A few bowls

String to hang the orbs while drying

Starch spray or a moisture barrier

EXTRA STUFF

Ribbon

Needle and thread

Metal rings

Here we go!

  1. Blow up the balloons to the desired size of the lamp you want. I needed three so I did three different sizes. I recommend white, or the color of your doily, in case your balloon sticks (I’ll get to that later). Also tie the knot as close to the top of the neck as possible (that will help when you need to untie the knot)
  2. You want to get your doilies out and get an idea of what doily you’re going to use per balloon. However, this can be tricky because they want to slide off the balloon, but do your best to map it out.
  3. Once you have a plan you can mix the wallpaper glue. Mix to a consistency that won’t ball up or be so thick that it will take forever to dry but at the same time not too thin that the glue is ineffective.
  4. Grab one of your bowls and set the balloon inside.  You want a bowl small enough so that the balloon is propped up and doesn’t roll around. Start with the knot facing the bottom of the bowl and the chubby part of the balloon facing up.                                                          
  5. Stick one of your doilies in the wallpaper glue and coat it on both sides, and then apply it to the balloon. Keep doing this until you have the exposed part of the balloon covered with doilies. Make sure that each doily overlaps each other a little bit. If you don’t do this, the doilies won’t stay together!
  6. Now you have to be patient and let the glue harden. This may take a full 24 hours. I know, this part kills me, too! You can try to do the whole balloon in one go, but I found that the doilies would slide off if I tried to turn the balloon over so I had to breathe through my nose and wait it out.
  7. Once the doilies have firmed up you can turn the balloon over and repeat the process.Close Up of DIY Doily Lamp
  8. At this point attach string to the knot of the balloon and hang it somewhere that allows you to finish working on it. I found that if I left the balloon in the bowl, the rim of the bowl created a crease on the doilies as they continue to harden. Breathe through your nose and be patient while the glue hardens. This is crucial because if you move on to the next step and your glue is not completely hardened, your DIY light orb will collapse!In progress doily lamps
  9. An exciting moment is when you get to pop the balloon, and by pop I mean carefully deflate! The best approach is to untie your balloon knot, if possible. When you have a nice thick balloon you should be able to let the air out and peel it from the inside of the doily as you go.  If you find that your doilies are collapsing, re-inflate the balloon, tie the knot, and either let the glue harden longer or apply more glue with a paintbrush. This time let it harden completely. Hopefully that step went smoothly for you! I used cheap balloons the first go-around and that step did not go over well. The balloon was so thin that it kept breaking apart and sticking all over the inside of the doilies. It was a painstaking task to get all of the balloon residue off the inside of the DIY light orb. You don’t want to go through that!
  10. At this point you’ll be pretty familiar with your DIY light orb, and you’ll recognize if you have any weak spots in the overlapping. If so, get your needle and thread out and sew together any spots that might be having a hard time staying together. I actually used a little Elmer’s glue in some places and then sewed it together because I was working with different thicknesses of doilies and some of them didn’t want to form properly.
  11. While you have that needle and thread you may need to strengthen the top of the orb. I didn’t have to do this with all of my orbs; it just depends on what doilies you use and what your lighting plan will be. I found metal latching rings at Ace Hardware that were the perfect fit. Take that needle and thread and sew it into the top opening of the DIY light orb.                                 
  12. You are almost finished! The last step will be to spray it with hardener/moisture barrier. Make sure you do it in a well-ventilated area and spray the heck out of it inside and out.

You probably have a plan for this DIY light orb, but if not, here are some thoughts: Put Christmas lights in it and place it on a table or hang from the ceiling by a hook. Wire one orb to go to a single box in the ceiling or combine multiple orbs to make a single fixture. If you’re looking for a tutorial on how to wire this lamp, I should have that available soon!

DIY Doily Lamps

I ended up first hanging them on a single wire to a single box, and I wanted to hide the wire, which required one last last step.

13. Take some ribbon, cut it into three pieces, sew it to the opening of the orb, and tie it around the ring on the hook or face-plate at the ceiling. I cut the ribbon long and made big bows where the ends hung down and touched the DIY light orb. You can play around with this step and make it your own. When I moved into my new house, I wired all three orbs into one fixture, but I did the same with the ribbon, making one big bow at the top.

DIY Installed Doily Lamp

Well, folks, that’s a wrap! I’m ridiculously excited to share my projects with you, and I hope you enjoyed this DIY project with Kirkendall Effect 💜

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