Confession: I’m in love with cloth-covered wires. Instead of an ugly plug or cord, they add a textural element with a little pop of color right where it’s least expected. It’s a great throwback to vintage style and nowadays these wires come in tons of different patterns and colors. I was totally inspired by an awesome red and white zigzag pattern from Color Cord and just had to make something with it.
My workspace really needed a new lamp and a serious boost of personality, but I didn’t want to make anything too busy or distracting. So I stuck with a minimalist profile and industrial materials to create a basic cement desk lamp with one big XL Silver Mirrored Globe Bulb on top for some drama.
- cloth covered wire
- mirrored globe bulb
- keyed socket
- plug end
- round metal duct pipe
- rockite cement
- 3/4″ conduit pipe
- 2-inch piece of straw
- hot glue gun
- wire stripper
- stir stick
For anyone who takes a look at all these materials and feels a little overwhelmed, don’t worry — for a project like this, just use what you have on hand. The great thing about creating a mold for the cement base of your lamp is that if can be made out of anything. I decided to use a sheet metal dryer vent to create a cylindrical shape and inlayed a strip of magnetic tape into the seam.
To create your mold, start by cutting the metal duct down to whatever size you’d like the base, then connect the two sides of the seam together. Next, create a channel for the cord in the base of your lamp using a straw. Since the metal duct is 4-inches wide, you need to cut your straw to 2-inches then attach to the cardboard base of the mold. Place the metal duct so that it’s flush with the straw and surround with hot glue all the way around.
All that’s left to complete the mold is putting your piece of conduit in place. It’s very important that you securely tape off the end of the conduit before placing in the mold or else it will fill with cement (not that I totally did that the first time) and you won’t have anywhere for your wire to go. Next, center the pipe over the end of your straw and hold in place by creating a grid of tape at the mouth of the vent.
Now time for the fun part! I first found Rockite on the bottom shelf of my neighborhood hardware store and haven’t used any other type of cement since. It’s great because you just add water, plus it’s self leveling, sets in 15 minutes, and the powder keeps forever. There’s no exact formula for the this, but start with a cup or so of the powder mixture and stir in some water a little at a time. Add some more powder, then water and so on until it’s smooth like cake batter.
Make sure the mixture is completely combined without any lumps. I needed about 2 quarts of wet cement for the base of my lamp, but I recommend mixing up more than you think you’ll need. If you pour it in and add more later, it shows up in layers with slightly different colors and takes away from the solid cement look of the lamp.
Carefully pour the cement into the mold of your lamp, sit back, and let the magic happen. You may notice a little seepage at the hot glue seam on the base of the mold, but don’t worry, this is totally normal and won’t effect your final product.
15 minutes later…
Carefully peal back the cardboard from the bottom of your mold and check out what a cool lamp you made! You’ll notice it may get a little warm to the touch, so let it cool down all the way before removing your vent. Use a pair of scissors and cut tabs all the way around the top for easy removal. Tear each tab downward until your mold springs open, revealing a perfect cement cylinder.
Remove the straw from the lamp base using a pair of scissors, pencil or just your fingers. Now the paper straw part of the mold should be making a little more sense. Et voilà! You now have just the right size channel carved out for the cord to run down the conduit and seamlessly through the base of your lamp.
To add a magnetic strip and bump up the workstation style of your lamp, cut a piece of magnetic tape to size, then attach with hot glue. This is perfect for capturing stray paper clips or even as a message board for notes and pictures with a few small magnets.
String your cloth-covered wire through your newly created lamp and fit the cord into the channel of the base. Wire the plug onto the end of your cord, but if you don’t know how to do this already, check out this great tutorial from Color Cord on how to wire a plug end. Finish off by wiring and securing on your socket with another helpful tutorial called how to wire sockets.
There you have it! Try playing with the proportion of your lamp for a fun, personalized look that’s just right for you.
Project and styling by Gwen McKenzie for Jojotastic.
Photography by Meghan Klein.
Disclosure: I received product from Color Cord to review for this post. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the content that keeps Jojotastic awesome.
pssst… more DIY projects right this way!