How to Make a Caboche Lamp

by Madeline Masters
You can use an existing lamp and simply replace the shade.

You can use an existing lamp and simply replace the shade.

Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images

The original Caboche lamp, manufactured by Foscarini, was designed by Patricia Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto. While these lamps run between $1000 and $3000 each, you can make your own Caboche-style lamp with the right tools and electrical know-how. Working with a good supplier helps, as you may need some custom pieces made depending on the size and shape of lamp you desire. To make this lamp you will work with an existing table lamp base and create your own Caboche-style lampshade.

Items you will need

  • Lamp kit
  • Lamp base
  • 6 metal rings
  • Metal wire
  • Tape measure
  • Small soldering kit
  • Protective mask
  • Work gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • 190 polymethylmethacrylate balls (approximately)
  • 1 halogen bulb

Constructing the Lamp

Step 1

Purchase (or have made) six wire rings, two in each size, with the sizes increasing by 2 inches in diameter, as appropriate for the lamp you're using. For example, for a lamp with a 12-inch base you will need two 12-inch rings, two 14-inch rings and two 16-inch rings. The smallest ring needs to fit on the lamp base, so buy each of these accordingly.

Step 2

Cut the wires to the proper length so that each wire can connect all six rings with about 1 inch of space between each ring. Account for the curve in the wire to make the rounded shape. These will be your "rib wires." The wire's thickness, the distance between each wire and the distance between the rings will depend on the size of the balls you are using for the lamp shade.

Step 3

Stack the rings, starting with the smallest, going to the next size up, then the two largest, another of the medium-sized rings and with the final remaining smallest ring on top. Connect the concentric rings with the rib wires; make sure the distance between each ring and each rib remains consistent. Solder the ribs to the rings with the soldering iron. Allow the metal to cool before proceeding; you should now have a round shade frame that bulges in the middle.

Step 4

Snap the polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA) balls onto the wire ribs until you have filled each rib from top to bottom. The number of balls you need will depend on the size of the balls and the metal rings.

Step 5

Install the lamp kit into the lamp base if you are not working with an existing lamp. Screw the light bulb into the lamp base.

Step 6

Connect the bottom ring of the shade to the lamp base. How you will do this depends on the type of lamp base you are working with.

Step 7

Plug in the lamp and turn it on to make sure it is working properly. The light should shine through the top and bottom of the lamp shade as well as through the balls, casting refracted light in every direction.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can make these lamps as table lamps, floor lamps, or chandeliers.
  • If an object is placed inside the lamp shade, its image will be refracted and repeated by the acrylic balls.
  • Online lamp part stores can supply you with nearly any hardware you need to make your own lamps.
  • You can get creative with the PMMA balls -- use different sizes or colors for more variety.
  • The PMMA balls used for authentic Caboche lamps are actually hemispheres, not full spheres, so look for these when purchasing balls for your lamp.
  • Always be careful when working with electrical appliances to avoid shock.
  • Wear a protective mask, gloves and goggles when working with the soldering iron.

About the Author

Madeline Masters works as a dog walker and professional writer. In the past she has worked as a fitness columnist, fundraising copywriter and news reporter. Masters won two Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Awards in 2009. She graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images