We had some plastic “Zip” letters. We had an old 1961 Wizard of Oz book with cool illustrations. We thought “wouldn’t it be fun to make a lamp that reveals a little secret when you turn it on?”
This is how we made our magic-vintage-book-word-lamp.
First we picked our favorite illustrations and decided on a good word – “OZ” repeated 2x was perfect.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, with pictures by W. W. Denslow, copyright 1961 by Crown Publishers. Originally published by George M. Hill Co. in 1900.
2 of the 23 color illustrations.
6″ “Zip” letters.
We needed holes in the edges because the 4 sides were to be joined with little 1/2″ metal book rings. We figured out the distance our holes should be from the edges, made a little template from an old coaster, and drilled through the coaster into the plastic. We placed a piece of scrap wood in the back to prevent the drill from going into the table. :)
Drilling guide for the holes.
Drilling the holes through the guide and plastic letter, into a scrap piece of wood.
Completed hole – nice and clean!
The book was too cool to cut up, so we copied our favorite illustrations onto white cover stock.
Copies of the book illustrations onto white cover stock. We were a little paranoid about copying a book, so we conducted a little research online and deduced the Wizard of Oz is public domain as of 1956 or so.
Then we placed the letters onto the pages and lightly traced the corners with pencil onto the page to mark the positioning.
Placing the letters onto the pages.
Marking the corners of the letters onto the page for reference.
Next we spray glued (Super 77) the back of the page and placed it in a window. Using the pencil lines as a guide, we carefully placed the right side of the letter onto the back of the picture.
Spraying Super 77 onto the back of the page.
Placing the page against the window so the pencil guidelines are visible.
Carefully placing the letter against the sprayed page.
We burnished the pages onto the plastic letters. Working from the back side, we used a very sharp X-Acto knife to trim away the excess paper, holding the knife firmly against the plastic edge. We held the plastic letter up to the light to see where the drilled hole was located and used a skewer to poke a hole through the paper.
Burnishing the page onto the plastic letter.
Trimming the excess paper, using the plastic edge as a guide.
Poking the holes through the paper to the holes in the plastic.
After doing that for all four letters, we attached them at the corners with the metal rings.
We needed a small lamp so we made one with a small socket and some scrap wood. (There are lots of tutorials out there for wiring your own lamp!)
That’s all there is to it – there’s no place like home.
Some complicated thoughts:
You can order individual Zip letters here (and probably other places). The Zip letters have slightly rounded edges which allows room for the lamp cord to pass through, which is nice. A drawback is that not all the plastic letters are not the same width, and if you are making a square lamp, that’s a problem. So one has to do a little planning, which is hard to do if the letters are not in front of you. This is one of the reasons we chose a two letter word (“OZ”) and repeated it. Another option is to cut clear acrylic sheets, available at craft stores. You can make your own letters by cutting them from black paper and spray gluing them onto the plastic, then spray gluing your image. Then you can make all your sides the same width. You would need to figure out a way to pass your cord through though – you could always drill a hole in the plastic towards the bottom, and thread the cord through before you wire up the lamp.
I told you these were complicated thoughts. Let us know what you come up with!