DIYdiy projects

diy project: droog-style hanger lamp

by Kate Pruitt

While working on today’s Treasure Hunting hangers post, I realized that one of my favorite ideas was the very simple clothes hanger lamp from Droog. Designed by Hector Serrano, the clothes hanger lamp is a plastic hanger with a very low-watt bulb attached, allowing you to create a light fixture out of your own wardrobe. I decided to adapt the original design a bit with what I consider to be improvements and managed to create a similarly beautiful, glowing garment for a fraction of the original’s cost ($283!).

My version is fashioned from a wood pant/skirt hanger with a wood attachment. The attachment allows for two things: First, it balloons the shirt up and away from the bulb in both the front and back, which gives added protection to your clothing and also gives the lamp a cool 3D effect from the side, not unlike the scene in Beetlejuice when Alec Baldwin and Gina Davis’ wedding outfits begin to glow and inflate . . . pretty cool. The second element is the color-blocking effect caused by the attachment, which I think adds a nice, unexpected linear element to the lamp. For very little time and money, this lamp can become a great new dramatic decor element in any room. Enjoy! — Kate

Get the full instructions after the jump!


  • wooden skirt or pant hanger with wire clips
  • 2 bamboo skewers
  • strip of balsa wood measuring 4″ x 24″
  • X-Acto knife
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • bulb kit
  • low-watt fluorescent bulb (I used a 40 watt equivalent and had no temperature issues)
  • hot glue
  • wire cutters

Note: I used balsa wood and skewers for this project so that it could be completed without any saws or major tools. The result is that this hanger will hold lightweight and medium-weight items only. If you want to put a heavy coat on it (although the light probably won’t show through that much fabric), I suggest using a thin, hard wood that you need to cut with a saw and attaching dowels to the hanger and the base using nails or screws.


1. Use wire cutters or pliers to remove the wire portion of the pant hanger.

2. Measure and cut the 4″ balsa strip 2″ shorter than the length of your hanger (my hanger measured about 16.25″).

3. Measure and mark the center of the balsa strip with a dot, and then measure the diameter of your bulb-kit socket (should be around 1.25″). Draw a circle of matching diameter on the balsa using the dot you made as the center of the circle. Err on the side of too small, since you can always adjust the hole to fit the bulb. You want the hole to fit around the socket but still be enclosed in the screw-top portion of the bulb kit.

4. Make pencil marks on your balsa strip 4″ inward on the top and bottom edges and 1″ inward on both sides. Line your ruler up with these marks, and use the X-Acto to cut triangles off the sides of your balsa strip.

5. Round all the corners slightly using your X-Acto blade. Line up the center of the hanger with the center of the balsa strip, and use your ruler to mark where the holes from the wire pant attachment hit on the balsa strip.

6. Cut your bamboo skewers to 3″ and use your X-Acto to cut 1/4″ squares out of leftover balsa wood. Test the skewers by sticking them into the holes in the hanger. If they are too big, use a nail or awl to widen the holes in the hanger a bit. You want the bamboo skewers to fit in snugly, but you should still be able to pull them out. Next, glue the balsa wood squares to the bottom of the skewers with hot glue and let sit until adhered and cooled.

(Ed. note: I know, I know . . . I need a new glue gun. This ol’ feller has been a real trooper, though.)

7. Use the X-Acto or sharp pencil to poke small holes through the marks in the balsa strip, and then thread the loose end of the bamboo skewers through the holes, letting the balsa strip slide down until it sits directly above the small balsa squares.

8. Put dabs of glue on the balsa squares and push the strip down onto it, adhering the skewer and the squares to the underside of the balsa strip.

9. Then put very small dabs of glue on the top edge of the bamboo skewers and wedge them into holes left by the wire pant attachment. Now thread the bulb kit through the hole in the center of the balsa strip, and screw the plastic attachment on to secure. Let the cord rest on the backside of the balsa strip and hang down. Place low-wattage bulb in socket.

10. You’re done! You can now put a shirt, sweater, dress, etc. on the hanger and light it up! The shape of the balsa strip slightly balloons the clothing, which prevents it from ever touching the bulb, plus it gives the lamp a more 3D effect from the sides.

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  • Thanks for showing us that you can make a beautiful lamp for a fraction of the outrageous cost of the original. (How could it possibly cost that much?) Can you guesstimate how much yours cost? This idea would be stunning with a piece of vintage lace clothing.

  • Ha, my first thought was: “Did A Clockwork Orange have cool lamps? Wow, Design*Sponge is branching out!”
    Shoulda known it was just me being behind the times.

  • Hey Susan,

    I had all the materials on hand, so it was free! But I would say that not including the tools, the cost would be under $10. The balsa wood costs about $3 for the sheet, the bulb kit is available at Ikea for $4, and the skewers are from the supermarket for $2-$3. The tools might cost around $30 – $40 if you’re getting a good cutting mat, ruler, exacto blade, glue gun, etc. Hope this helps!

  • Love the idea, I really do. Perhaps it is just me being paranoid about house fires, but balsa wood or not, I would still be terrified of the shirt/sweater catching fire. It looks amazing though!

  • How cool! It also reminds me of a white vintage child’s dress used as a lampshade in a Louise Bourgeois installation I saw at the Tate a few years ago.

  • Even looking at this makes me nervous. It’s fun…however I’m with Karen.

  • Yep, totally freaks me out, too, to hang something flammable anywhere near a lightbulb.

  • Hey Everyone!
    I just want to say a word about the fire issue for those who are concerned. The low wattage fluorescent bulbs produce very little heat, and I have had setups like this up in the past for long stretches of time with no issue of heating or flammability. I’m definitely not advocating that you put a high wattage incandescent in and leave it unattended, as that would be very high risk. But you’re absolutely right, I should remind people to be vigilant of lamps like these and stress the low wattage for safety’s sake. Thank you for your feedback!

  • Lovely! Been holding onto to some incredibly beautiful (yet unwearable) antique and vintage dresses for a looooong time thinking I could figure out what to do with them someday…. I think I just have! Thanks a bunch!!

  • Of course we all like a cheaper approach to design but I don’t really think it’s very nice to teach how to copy an original design. Of course, it is a simple idea and anyone can do it, but I wonder what Droog thinks about this?

  • I agree. I doubt Hector Serrano would be a fan of people directly copying his original design. Be inspired, but please don’t copy.

  • This makes me nervous – I burned a hole through a jacket sleeve, which came into contact with a low-wattage table light. Luckily, I noticed the smoke before the whole thing caught fire.

  • We inherited a vintage wedding dress (original wearer was vintage but passed away) and this seems like an incredible way to display/use/show it. Also have a sari or two around and never sure what to do with them but they are too pretty to just store.