Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Final, Final Working Miniature Arco Lamp Tutorial and Pictures

The prototype for the working miniature Arco lamp is finished.  The two improvements from my last post is the addition of lead tape, to prevent the tipping, and a marblized cover surrounding the battery box.  It is done.  Cue Handel's Messiah.  I will be selling this on ebay or etsy, I haven't decided which.  And, before I do so, I have to work out the cost, so I can recoup my material outlay when I sell all of the Arcos that I can make before I bore of it.

The complete tutorial, with sources for the harder to find items, follows:
Materials:                      Source   
3/32" aluminum tubing           K & S
Plastic silver Xmas bulbs       Kurt S. Adler
Knife                           I had this on hand
Sandpaper                       I had this on hand
AA Battery box                  Pololu
AA Batteries                    CVS
2 strand mini electrical wire   Dollhouse Heaven
Shrink tubing                   Dollhouse Heaven
1.5 volt LED bulb               Dollhouse Heaven
Solder & soldering iron         I had on hand
Super Glue                      Loctite
Lead Tape                       Find Tape

Optional material:
Plastic spray paint             Rustoleum
Painter's tape                  3M
Polymer clay                    Sculpey
Pasta Machine                   Amsco


  • Tape off the switch of the battery box and spray with plastic spray paint.  Set aside to dry. 
  • Insert the 2-strand electrical wire into the aluminum tube to prevent kinking while bending the tube into a curve.  Then bend the wire.
  • I used 3 colors of Sculpey clay to fashion a "marble" cover for the battery box.  I chopped the white into 1/8" bits, and added small, ball-bearing size bits of black and pewter (which has a nice sparkle to it like real marble).  I rolled this into a log and twisted and folded it until it was nicely streaked.  The I put this through a pasta maker, and cut out the sides and top of the box.  The top also needs a hole for the tube to fit through.  Once baked, I used Loctite gel glue to glue the sides and top together.
  • Using a hot knife (I run mine through the flame of my gas stove), slice off part of the Christmas ornament on the side with the opening for the wire.  Sand the edges smooth.  Take a straightened out paperclip, heat that, and push into the ornament to make a hole for the tube to pass through.
  • Strip the wires from the battery box and the 2-strand wire to a size you feel comfortable with.  It should be less than an inch, the smaller the better.  Feed a small piece (just long enough to cover the bare wires plus a little extra) of shrink tube onto wire, and the solder the wires from the 2-strand wire to the wires from the battery box.  Heat the shrink tube to fit tight.
  • On the other end of the 2-strand wire, send the marble cover and the cut ornament down the tube,  then strip this other end to a short length that you are comfortable with.  Place a small bit of shrink tube (again, just enough to cover the bare wires, plus a little extra) over the bulb to the other end of wire.
  • Open the panel on the top inside of the battery box.  Pull the wire taut and push the extra into the open space on top.  Replace the panel.
  • Put a dot of glue at the opening of the battery box to secure the tubing to the box, and another dot on the ornament to secure it to the tube.
  • If necessary, place lead tape along inside of marble cover to weigh it down more.
  • Lift marble cover, toggle the switch, and enjoy!


  1. I think Etsy is the way to go if you have a fixed price (less expensive fees than ebay). I honestly can't say how much you'd get for it on ebay as it all depends on who finds it and is online when you are selling. Looks gorgeous! Great work!!

  2. Joi, I love it! You found such a good look-alike! Thanks for the tip on that magazine too.. might have to look into yet another subscription! :)



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