Skip to toolbar

CategoryFinal Project

Alien Lamp

The task for our final project is to combine the modular structure with your classmate to create a lamp.


Clara and i decided to work together. Her modular structure is based on the scales of a butterfly wing. The characteristics of her SEM structure are organic and irregular. She created it using string woven together to form a mesh of the SEM model. My modular structure is based on Spumullarian. Some of its main characteristics are uniform conical pores and double spherical layers. I created it using jumping clay.

You can view my work process here: Radiolarian



Clara’s SEM structure                                                                      My SEM structure


We brainstormed on how to combine the unique characteristics of them.  The design we eventually decided upon is to incorporate the double spherical layers from my structure. With the outer layer in an uniform conical pattern and the inner layer is made up of irregular pattern. There will be multiple of such spheres joining together creating like a cluster of tadpole eggs as Clara said. Basically the top portion will be more defined and spherical and gradually melt downwards to an organic form. This is how we combine out SEM structure from a uniform shape melt down to irregularity.





My SEM model was created using jumping clay. However it would not work for this large lamp that we are creating. I was searching through the internet for some inspiration and chanced upon this artist.



Tara Donovan’s installation artwork used plastic cups to form blob like shapes. It looked pretty similar to the image we plan to create for our lamp. Thus i decided to use plastic cups instead for our project. For Clara’s inner sphere, we decided to adopt the same m ethology of using string to woven into a sphere shape. This time we decided to use coloured rafia string to create contrast with the transparent plastic cups.




  • Outer layer

Initially we planned to stick the plastic cups together with hot glue gun but it was too hot and the cups melted. I tried using super glue but the cup ended up looking dirty as the dried superglue caused a slight milky translucent on it. It was too time-consuming to just stick a few pieces so this definitely won’t work for our large lamp. Staples are the only way to go. I thought i would be easy to do it but getting the result we wanted was a lot more work to do. I had to cut off the base of each plastic cup so that light can project through giving a clearer shadow image. I probably cut around 300 over cups with the foam cutter.




Simply stapling the cups would give you a very tight round form, which meant trouble for the more flowing parts of the structure. Clara discovered that by cutting parallel strips in the cups at the point of stapling, the tension is released and we can create a fairly malleable and flat layer of cups to form into the shape we wanted. We made the spherical units separately, following the drawing, and then connecting the pieces together somehow.



  • Inner layer

Clara was in charge of making the inner sphere ball. She made it by tying paper string around a balloon, going round and weaving the form until it look okay. Then she dampened the strings and covered them in white glue, and let them dry overnight.




When we tested both forms together with the light, we realized that the interior shadow was indistinguishable from the exterior. I suggested to use cellophane to cover the units on the string spheres to create a stained glass effect and to allow the interior spheres to contribute to the shadow of the lamp.



After the whole structure of the lamp is up, the final stage is the construction of lighting. we estimated the length of each cable in each sphere. I cut out the length and wired everything up.



A difficult part is to thread all the lights and wiring into the spheres, and trying not to break something, or bust a finger through a stained glass panel (cellophane). Also lots of rearranging of the outer sphere so that it would be just right. I had to ripped out portions of the cups and re-stapling them over and over just so the outer form will look good.




Presentation Day


Peter suggested that instead of letting the lamp hang on the wall, it could hang from the ceiling like a bunch of grapes.That way it could sways and turns slowly the shadows would also change. The wiring could also have been better hidden.





Overall, it came pretty close to what we envisioned our lamp to be. It would be even better if there’s dramatic shards of blue lighting but we still did a pretty good job.

Point Line Plane


Before arriving to my final model, i did several case study and sketches.



1.Do then think! I crafted out my sketch without any planning or direction.



Result: Well.. looks aside, i think i had an idea of how to do this project now. I had to plan out where the lines goes and how the paper will become from the tension of the strings. I also have to improve on my workmanship .


2. Study on forming an organic structure by making the lines converge the paper.  I tried to cover up the negative space on the back of the paper with interlacing of lines going in a spiral manner.

p_20160921_113330 p_20160921_113301


Result: The negative space of the paper turned out to be very small and a bit flat, so there was not much room to work with. The lines knots on the back also ruined the whole aesthetics, so i decided to scrap this idea.


3. Study on simple geometric shape of circle interlace with a line.




Result: By working on evening the pitch, i obtained a clean look of the structure which i quite like it.


4. I was inspired by my previous case study and  explored more on simple geometric shape with line. This time round, i work with triangle and a wavy line. As the triangle is symmetry, i thought of doing the same for the wavy line.




Result: It did not turn out the way i wanted like how i sketched it. I had a difficult time varying the pitch. On the middle of the wavy line, the lines should be more dense before spreading out in a spiral manner like a paper fan. Hence, the lines from the triangle should transit smoothly interlacing the wavy line. However, that did not happen, the straight lines in the front and the diagonal lines at the back look awkward together. There was no flow in this construction, so i scraped it.


Final Case Study 

It involved the intersection of horizontal and vertical lines. I was interested in exploring the effect of the lines pulled by an opposite force in the middle, so there will be symmetry.



Result: It turn out looking like a ribbon! I was careful with tension of the string cast on the paper and make the pitch consistent for the horizontal lines. I realized that tension act the most on the top of the horizontal lines and progressively become lesser, making the negative space in the middle become progressively smaller.


Link between all Case Studies

The appropriate tension of the string is very important for the overall aesthetics and construction. If the knot I tie in the end is not close enough to the hole, the tension of the string loosen, making my whole composition look flimsy. The same goes for if the tension of one sting is too much, it would warp the paper and the whole plane will collapse. With this knowledge in mind, i meticulously craft my final model.


Final Model

After drawing several sketches, i decided to use back the sketch from my first study model. Back to the start with more bangs and booms!






Result: Looking from my first case study to my final model, i was very happy with the result.  That was until Peter mentioned that there is only one plane. Then i realized my mistake. I was too focus on the aesthetics of it that i forget the whole project is on lines and planes. I wanted to create a pattern on the diamond with wide negative space in the middle and progressively become smaller on the sides. From my case study, I figured it would be hard to achieve it if i created a plane of horizontal lines. Hence, i didn’t exert any tension on the paper at that time. I will remember to place higher emphasize on the goal of this project from now on.