Project 1 Week 1 – Ruffled Coffee Filter Pendant Lamp

Hello and welcome to the 3 R’s, the blog about my mission to live life based on the concepts of “Reduce, Reuse, Redecorate!”  If you want to learn more about who I am, and this mission, then check out the About Me section above.  In short, I am a crafty architecture school graduate, and I have decided to embark on what I’ve termed, The 30x30x3 Project, a mission to create and blog about 30 projects in 30 weeks based on the 3 R’s.

So without further ado, I might as well jump right into my first project, a large pendant light made from a simple paper lantern, and approximately 699 coffee filters!

The project started when I spotted Aunt Peaches’ Ruffled Lotus Lantern on her amazing website.  If you haven’t heard of her, you must must must check out her website, she does the most fabulous crafts with household items!

While I didn’t have any cupcake liners lying around, I thought her idea of gluing something to a paper lantern was absolutely brilliant, and just the sort of idea I could take and run with!  Add a little inspiration from a fellow student project, and I knew what I wanted to do.  I was lucky to be meeting a friend near Chinatown the very next day, so I made sure to stop and purchase a few simple paper lanterns to play around with.  A trip to the dollar store later and I was ready to go!

I don’t have many process photos, unfortunately, but the concept is really very simple.  I took each coffee filter, and folded it in half, then in half again, then in half once more.  This means you now have a wedge that is 1/8th of the original circle of the filter.  The final step is you take the wedge, and you bend down the tip.  You can see these steps here:

Then, you simply take your paper lantern, assembled, and start gluing on the coffee filter wedges, applying just a drop of hot glue to the folded tip of each wedge.  I liked the hot glue because of the super fast drying time, but that’s personal preference.

Basically, it really doesn’t matter how you glue the coffee filter wedges to the lantern, its all about how YOU want it to look.  I found it very helpful to plug the lantern in and light it up periodically in the process, so I could see whether or not I was adding the filters in an even fashion, if there were bare patches or just to see how pretty my work was!

So, approximately $15, many hours work, and a few forgotten about household items, lead to a pretty amazing looking lamp, and most definitely a conversation piece.  Think this lamp looks amazing but too daunted to try it yourself?  Then visit my Etsy shop and check out this lamp, and others.

Ciao for now, Allison

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21 Responses to Project 1 Week 1 – Ruffled Coffee Filter Pendant Lamp

  1. Peaches says:

    WHOA! That is amazing. Totally trumps the one with muffin cups I posted. Truth be told, I made one w coffee filters a while back, but my results didn’t come out half as nice as this! Next time I’ll try more filters!
    Great work! I’m so tickled to hear I had any small part in your creative process. Just made my day 🙂
    Keep up the great work– can’t wait to see what you do next week!

  2. Nono says:

    What a wonderful idea! I had no idea how you did this wonderful lamp, you’ve got an amazing imagination and a rare talent. Can’t wait to read your next project!

  3. Ann says:

    So eye-catching and gorgeous! Am sure it took a ton of time, but it was worth it. I love how it looks so different from day to night.

  4. pedritxes says:

    thank you for such beautiful things.


  5. Maryka says:

    Here’s a question that always nags at me when I am inspired by an awesome project like this: How do I keep it clean? Any ideas? I have a particularly dusty bedroom (the battle is never-ending) and I don’t know how I would keep those beautiful ruffles from turing gray.

    • Thanks everyone for the awesome comments, I’m so glad you guys like my lamp so much!!

      Maryka – That’s a really good question, and not one I really have an answer too. However, the coffee filters are a lot sturdier than you might imagine, so I would think maybe trying to blow the dust off with a hair dryer or air canister might be the easiest. You know, the ones they sell to blow dust off of keyboards? Other than that, I really have no clue. We’ll just have to see how dirty it gets and experiment!

  6. Vivian says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS LAMP!! I saw a similarly constructed lamp on a different blog, and can’t wait to start making my own! I had a question, I have some paper lanterns in some pretty bold and funky colors, and was wondering if the lighting would still have the same effect? Also, this might be tough, but do you think it’s feasible to add letters into the design? I wanted to make one for my friend Amy, thus implementing the letter ‘A’. I would love any feedback you can give me, and can’t wait to see your projects next week! 🙂

    • hi vivian, thank you so much for your comment! i’m so glad you love this lamp, i do too!

      i think the colored paper lanterns would probably be fine, depending on what color they are. Warm colors such as reds and yellows will probably just augment the natural yellow of the coffee filters (even with a bright white CFL and a white paper lantern, the light that filters through is pretty yellow.) However, i would be worried about colors in the blue and green family, they might react strangely with the yellow filters and produce a sort of brown-black color. My best suggestion is to do a small chunk as a sample and see how it looks. I would love to see what your results are once you get it done!

      As for the letter, sure why not? I would recommend laying out the letter shape first, and gluing that down to the light, and then filling in around it. Though make sure you fill in the top center of the A first, since that might be hard to get to. But hey, why not try it out and see how it looks, you never know! As I said before, I would love to see your results once you’ve tried this out, so report back if you can!

      Good luck, and just remember to have fun!!! Allison

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  8. amanda uber says:

    I made this! I put them right on top of each other so went through 1,035 coffee filters by the end. Also – I was putting them in a line then realized I might get stuck so I changed up the pattern a bit here and there. So its mostly in a line with swirls. Best gluing suggestion is to dab it to the tip of the triangle, put on lantern and push forward so the glue covers the entire triangle. Because I used so many filters – the lantern got too heavy and broke the metal hook so I ended up zip tying it to the power cord. Also – I would suggest hanging it between folding/gluing breaks as the bottom got a bit smushed with the weight. All in all – took 2 people (awesome boyfriend folded and I glued) 7 hours (3.5 movies), 8 glue sticks and 2 band aids. I LOVE IT.

    • Fantastic!!
      Question, what size paper lantern did you start with? I used a 12″ lantern (I just realized I never posted that… oops!) And even though I packed the coffee filters in pretty closely, I only used about 700. But, if you used a larger lantern I would imagine it would take more coffee filters AND more time, plus it would be really heavy.
      I also found that overall my light was too heavy for my lantern, but the point that I found weakest was where the metal hook/formwork attached to the actual lantern, since that joint was just paper. So for my second attempt ( I first took the time to cover the paper lantern in coffee filters drenched in glue. I focused especially on the top edge where the wire with the two circles for the inner formwork meets up with the paper. I folded the coffee filters over that edge, so they wrapped from the outside to the inside, and I found that this time I didn’t have any problems with broken lanterns or hooks. Obviously its too late for you guys, but in case you ever get motivated to try it again! 🙂
      I found that overall my lantern wasn’t too heavy and I didn’t have the bottom smushing problem you did, but you used about 50% more coffee filters than I did, so it was obviously 50% heavier and that might have been the issue.
      I am so glad you love it though, and hopefully any hurt fingers heal quickly! You have a very nice boyfriend to help you fold all those coffee filters, that is certainly a big plus! Thanks for reporting back, I’m always interested to hear about people who try out my projects, and what their successes or failures were, we can all ALWAYS learn from one another.
      Thanks! Allison

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  10. sw33tp3a says:

    VERY cool! I especially like the way the lamp looks like glowing embers or flowing lava w/the way the light comes thru the filters due to your process. I hope mine looks as hypnotizing as yours.

  11. Kathy Howard says:

    I decided that I had to try this and was amazed at how it turned out! I too used close to 700 coffee filters, folding them while watching tv then doing the hot gluing over a couple days. Pretty time intensive although I did get quicker as it progressed when I realized that I couldn’t screw it up! I propped it up in a couple double bagged Whole Foods bags with the handles helping to hold it in place. It turned out so cute that my tween, who typically likes NOTHING I do, asked if it could be in her room. Yeah! Thank you so much for sharing your great idea!

  12. Lauren B. says:

    Quick question – Did you have any problems with the hot glue melting if the light was left on for too long?

    • That isn’t an actual problem because the bulb is pretty far from the lantern so there isn’t much heat transfered to the lantern, and considering how hot the glue needs to get to melt its just not a problem I’ve had. But smaller lanterns might be more of an issue… I never use a lantern smaller than 12″ for this project.

  13. journey says:

    Where is the reuse in this? Not trying to be a troll, but you used all new materials.

    • Well yes, the coffee filters are all new but one, you could easily reuse an old paper lantern. But also the 3 R’s are for “Reduce, Reuse, Redecorate” so this project falls more under the Redecorate heading. But I like to think that I’m giving these coffee filters a longer life than they would have as actual coffee filters, so that’s something. But yes it’s not a reuse project as much as some of my other projects.

  14. Susan says:

    Has anyone tried this with used coffee filters? I’m collecting a stack that I’ve brushed the coffee grounds from after they are dry. This would then be reuse. Just curious.

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