Tutorial: Paper IQ Lamp

This lamp hangs right above my bed.

This post was supposed to go up last Thursday but apparently it failed to upload. I apologize for the long wait for this tutorial. I only just noticed.








Light is awesome. Capturing light [photography] is an extremely creative awesomeness. Shaping light is also awesome, and here today I present to you my tutorial on how to make an IQ Lamp. This is a step-by-step process requiring only a few supplies:

  • Paper [color of your choosing]
  • Xacto knife or other precision cutting tool
  • Cutting surface
  • Light wire, found here
  • Light bulb

IQ lamps were first invented by Holger Strom in 1973, and they’re great for all sorts of special events and for softening the atmosphere of any room. Strom was a designer by trade and came up with this lamp in his own free time after being inspired by another lamp requested by a client. See my earlier post about the IQ Lamp which includes history and links to learn more.


Step 1: Template

First you’ll need to make a template piece with witch to draw out all of your puzzle pieces. Print out that template, cut it out, and use it to make a sturdier jigsaw piece from much thicker paper. This thick piece you can use many, many times to make as many jigsaw pieces as you need. To change the size of the template, set your printer to print the image at 200% size. Doing this will give you the same size pieces I am working with in this tutorial.

Now, you can find websites that sell these lamps, and while it’s nice to have all of these pieces pre-cut, the lamp will appear as the manufacturer wished it to appear. Making the lamp by hand allows you total creative freedom. Some people even make animals out of these shapes! Check out all the different shapes you can make using this single jigsaw piece here.

Step 2: The hard part.

The lamp in this tutorial requires 30 pieces total. You can make spheres up to 150 pieces. That is a LOT of cutting. It’s tough work, but in the end is totally worth it. The lamp will consist of 5 “layers”, and this version of the lamp makes every other layer yellow with alternating blue. If you choose three colors [such as a split complimentary scheme] you can assemble the lamp with no two pieces of the same color touching each other. The paper I’m using here is Canson artists construction paper, but the paper choice is totally up to you as long as it is thick enough to support the weight of the lamp when finished. Printer paper [20 lb] is probably too thin, while heavy card stock [100 lb] will not allow any light to pass out of the lamp. Pure white Canson paper should let out a considerable amount of light, enough to match a regular lamp.

It’s difficult to see here, but I fit 11 shapes on this paper. 14 or 15 would probably have fit if I used all the space.

Trace your thick card stock template onto the construction paper as many times as you can fit it on the paper without overlapping the design. Then, using your cutting surface and blade, meticulously cut out each shape one by one. I know, this part totally sucks, but putting the lamp together afterwards is the most rewarding part of the process.

Step 3: The most rewarding part of the process.

The best way to explain the assembly is to show, not tell. I’ve created a video tutorial with verbal instructions [below] for your convenience, and for more of your convenience I duplicated it at triple speed [1/3 the time].

And that, as they say, is that.

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One thought on “Tutorial: Paper IQ Lamp

  1. Archana says:

    will i be able to make the lamp if, i use your template link for print out and use it to cut all piece? if its not can you pleas send me the printable format so that i can take a print out and use it directly for cutting purpose.


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