Making Miniature Tiki Lights, Part 1

Making Miniature Tiki Lights, Part 1

My work table

Miniature lamp in progress

When I began working on a miniature tiki room to showcase some Paul Frankl rattan salesman’s samples, I knew I’d have to make my own lights.

If you need lights for a human-sized tiki room, you have plenty of options:

  • Call up Oceanic Arts
  • Go to a tiki-themed event with at least one vendor selling lamps
  • Scour thrift stores and estate sales
  • Buy online from someone more crafty than you
  • Make your own lamps out of odds and ends

Scale things down, however, and even the smallest light on the market is way too big.

However:

  • I know a thing or two about LED lights.
  • I’m used to thinking laterally to make miniatures.
  • I don’t back down easily.

Before I began, I looked at Oceanic Arts‘ catalog for inspiration. When I had an idea of what I wanted to do, my first challenge was coming up with a base material. It had to allow light to come through the sides of the lamp, but it also had to be strong enough that it wouldn’t crush or wrinkle (I didn’t dare use paper all by itself).

Inspiration struck, believe it or not, when I was buying cat food at the pet supply store.

Aquarium tubing is clear, strong but not too thick, and can be cut with a sharp knife. It’s also available in multiple widths, if you’re willing to look around.

The widest tubing I could find anywhere was 1″ in diameter. For perfect scaling, 2″-3″ would have been ideal, but hopefully no one will care that the lamps are of a modest size. (Maryann Roy has used 1:12 accessories in her Barbie sets. Would anyone notice if she didn’t point it out? Well…I certainly didn’t!)

So I bought aquarium tubing and some LED lights (with a small battery), scaled down and printed out some tapa cloth patterns, and got to work.

Lamp 1:

Gluing the top on Lamp 1

Gluing the top on Lamp 1

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Gluing miniature “tapa cloth” over the clear tubing

The finished lamp (before the LED light is installed)

The finished mini lamp (before the LED light is installed)

This miniature lamp is pretty simple: just aquarium tubing cut to size, parchment paper for the top, tapa cloth cleaned up/scaled down in Word and printed out, bits of bamboo placemat left over from the walls, and brown crochet thread for the “rope”.

And glue. So. Much. Glue.

Stay tuned for the other four lamps; they’re all different.

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