DIYdiy projects

DIY Project: Tape Sponge Lamp

by Kate Pruitt

This tape sponge lamp project was the grand prize second place* winner from our DIY contest, and it’s easy to see why it was such a hit among voters. By creating a simple repeating shape, Giselle managed to transform the material into something organic, elegant and almost unrecognizable as tape. There are very few materials or steps to this project; the process is almost simple enough to figure out on your own, but luckily Giselle has shared a full tutorial with details on how to start, how large to make the piece and how to add the lighting element. If the idea of turning it into a lamp doesn’t suit you, you could easily use the technique to make organic vessels, wall decor and more. The natural masking tape is lovely, but personally, I’m excited to try this out with colored tapes, as well. Congratulations again on winning first prize, Giselle, and thanks for sharing this awesome project with us! — Kate

*sorry about the error: this project won second place; our first place winner was Donna Yu’s 3D cube wall.

Read the full how-to after the jump . . .


  • roll of tape
  • scissors
  • acetate (plastic) sheet (to sit the lamp on so it doesn’t get stuck to anything)
  • marker (to draw your circle onto the acetate)
  • lamp cord kit
  • low wattage bulb (25W or lower is recommended)



1. Depending on the lamp kit you have, you may need to make a base for your bulb to sit in. Using an old cardboard tube, cut a couple notches for the socket and for the cord to go through. Then cover the piece in tape to make it sit upright.

2. To create the shade, first determine the general size you want. My lamp base was 7″ high, so I used this as a guide for working out the diameter for the shade. Be sure to leave at least 2″ to 3″ of space so the shade doesn’t get too hot. Trace a circle onto the acetate that’s the same diameter as the lamp. I used an old plate that was about the right size as a template, but freehand drawing the circle would also work.

3. Start cutting strips of tape about 2″ in length. I did batches of about 20.

4. Roll the tape into a tube shape with one end slightly wider than the other, leaving the sticky side of the tape to the outside.

5. Start sticking the tape together in a circle with the narrow end to the center.

6. Build up the layers of tubes. You need to make the diameter of each layer a little smaller to get the sphere shape until you have one half of the lamp shade complete (it should be a half-sphere shape). You’ll probably need to adjust the shape of the tubes as you’re making them, with some smaller and some larger in width to get them to fit, and if it’s not a perfect shape, all the better, as it makes it more interesting and organic. I made each layer about 1/4″ smaller.

7. Peel the half sphere off the sheet of acetate, flip it over and start building up the layers to make the other half of the shade. You will need to leave this end of the sphere open to allow it to sit over the base. To work out the size, measure the size of the lamp base (step 2) and leave a hole a little larger — I left about 1/2″.

8. Once you have finished the second half of the sphere, flip it over and lower it over the lamp base. You’re done!

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  • This is so lovely and creative! But is there any trick to keep dust, etc., from clinging to the exposed sticky side of the tape layers? Thanks for the tutorial!

  • Wow, it really does look like a sea sponge in these photos. This might be neat for a decoration for a one-night party or other event. I’m thinking it would start looking gross pretty quickly, though, with dust and dirt sticking to the tape.

  • This is really lovely!

    I think it would look nice under a bell jar, too, like a self-illuminated natural wonder in a cabinet of curiosities. Perhaps you could also seal the surface with an acrylic spray clear coat or something along those lines.

    Or you could just use it as an exercise in accepting the ephemeral nature of beauty. :)

  • Oh my god! I never thought you could do something this great with tape!! I’m totally going to try it!!! And I agree with the party idea, because after a while it could get dirty!

  • I’m wondering if there is a way to spray it with some sort of protective coating that would work. Perhaps some kind of spray varnish or acrylic coating? It really is quite fantastic and it pains me to think of doing it for a one night party only- looks time consuming!

  • Almost right in figuring out the procedure. :) Trying it this weekend. i just hope that this won”t become a viral pin later on :)

  • Ohhhh – if anyone tries sealing it with acrylic or something and it WORKS, please share!

  • This is incredible. I had no idea that you could build things that look so designer yourself. Although I’m not a handy person, I’m so inspired by the easy to follow steps that I’m going to try it. Thanks so much for sharing this post.

  • pics of it lit up would have been great. I love the design, looks like a sea sponge, but I cannot belp thinking it’s a dust catcher. I wonder if you could give it a spray of poly to seal it.

    • Hey All,

      Ask and you shall receive: I’ve added some pics Giselle took of the lamp lit so you can see the way the light shines through. Hope this helps!

  • i love this, but when sticking it on top if that circle to begin with,… how do you lift it? wont it get stuck to the table??

  • Thanks for the new pics, it looks as nice is not nicer once lighted. I love the light projection on surrounding objects. Really gorgeous idea!

  • Is it really sticky side out? Doesn’t that seem like a dust and pet hair collecting nightmare? Or am I just misunderstanding the directions? I think it is asthetically absolutely perfect, but the thought of it catching all my household dirt is a total turnoff! Please let me know if I have gotten this wrong…

  • I’m sure acrylic spray would work, but you could try a few loops to try it and see how many coats. I’m doing this but not for awhile.

  • i love the design but the first thing i thought of was the dust/hair attraction factor. unfortunately i think it would only last a few weeks before it started to look like a big hairball. it does photograph well but is probably not the most lasting DIY project to date.

  • Why is everybody so obsessed with this being a giant dust magnet? Most of the sticky parts of the tape are stuck to other sticky parts of tape!

    • AD – You are definitely correct – this won second place. I am so sorry for the mixup! I has updated the post accordingly. Thank you for bringing that to our attention!

  • To rs, if u read step 4 carefully, it specifically says to leave the sticky side of the tape on the outside when rolling it…thats why everbody is so obsessed with things sticking to it. The entire lamp is the sticky side of the tape outward.

  • I would love to see a follow up post about how the project held up against the dust. It’s really a beautiful piece, maybe I’ll just have to try it and see!

  • seconding what Jen said about sprinkling glitter- wondering if you could sprinkle with flour/talcum powder or something else white that wouldn’t affect the colour of it but would mean all the stickiness was used up already?

  • So, just wondering if anyone has made this and if so, how did it turn out? What did you do regarding dust collection…did you try sealing the finished project t? Did it work?

  • This is wonderful, :)
    Which tape did you used? and after sometime will it not attract dust on remaining sticky area?

  • All the projecting bits would be stick for those who keep saying sticky to sticky would not leave a problem.

    If I did this, I think I’d take baby powder (talc) and gently blow it all over the finished shade to un-sticky the adhesive. (There are craft powders including metallic colors that could also be used this way). (Wear a dust mask and eye protection.)

    I wonder if this could be used to make a mold for casting in bronze? THAT would be amazing! Or 3-d printed in something more durable…