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Reinventing the Stained Glass Lamp

An illuminated lampshade in a geometric style

History, Geometry, and Technology

I've always liked the look of old stained glass lamps. But buying a genuine antique is usually out of my price range, and while I've considered making my own, I don't have the skills or tools to work with traditional materials like glass and lead.

What I do have is a 3D printer, a 3D pen, and a 2D CNC paper cutter, along with some excellent digital design tools and a lifelong experience crafting with paper. So I decided for a modern take on the same idea.

The lampshade is based on a Archimedean solid, the small rhombicosidodecahedron. Each planer face is 3D printed as two separate frames; two paper panels are sandwiched between these plates.

A 3D model of a solid small rhombicosidodecahedron
A wireframe model of a partial small rhombicosidodecahedron
An exploded view of a single lampshade panel. Two thin translucent panels are between two square frames

Mass Production

Designing the frames (in Solidworks) and the paper panels (in Inkscape) was the easy part! The printing, papercutting, and careful assembly of all the panels tested the limits of my new paper cutter, my old 3D printer, and my own patience.

A paper panel with cutouts. Paper is being removed from the cutout areas
A large number of 3D-printed plastic frames in a variety of geometric shapes
A large number of paper panels in a variety of geometric shapes
A hand is holding a partially assembled lampshade made of plastic and paper. A 3D pen is also shown

Putting the Pieces Together

Assembly used an unconventional tool for the job: A 3D pen. This pen extrudes the same 3D plastic as my printer, but allows for freeform creation. In this case, the pen is used to fill in gaps between each of the frames, slowly fusing them into a single solid piece.

Testing was critical to ensuring the assembly went smoothly. Early tests showed that when hot plastic is penned directly onto paper, the paper will wrinkle as it cools. The design of the 3D printed frames and the paper panels was therefore adjusted to allow them to be assembled without any contact between hot plastic and paper. The paper pieces freely "float" inside of their individual frames!

A lamp with a geometric lampshade. The lamp is turned off
A lamp with a geometric lampshade. The lamp is turned on. Geometric shapes shine through the lampshade

Playing with Light and Shadow

Traditional stained glass uses color to form a pattern. However, for this modern interpretation, light itself forms design. When the light is off, the design fades, leaving just the minimalist geometric design

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