For too long, I’ve been reeling over brutalist pendants and sculptures without being able to find an affordably priced version for my own home. With winter approaching and feast season upon us, a dark, broody table lamp seemed like the perfect way to incorporate some brutalist decor, so I grabbed some copper sheeting from my local craft store and decided to make my own. Even better – I was able to add some nice touches with basic wood finishing supplies I had around the house.
- 1 roll of .005 thick 12″ x 30″ soft copper
- hammered texture spray paint in brown or black
- wood paste finishing wax
- all-in-one polyurethane wood stain and finish
- bone folder
- craft knife
- cutting mat
- protective work gloves
- a couple old rags
- basic cord set or table lamp
First, put on your gloves! The copper can get kind of sharp at certain points of the process, so use caution. I wasn’t wearing gloves and, in hindsight, wish I had.
Begin by unrolling the copper and flatten it out so that you have one long sheet. About 1/3 of the way up the 12″ side, begin drawing a slight depression with your bone folder to use as a cutting guide. Don’t worry too much if you mess up a little – you want to draw rounded, haphazard ridges spaced far enough apart that you can cut rounded corners. For a more dramatic look, draw higher peaks and valleys in both directions. Then with the scissors, cut along this guide as best you can (the scissors work much better than the craft knife here). Dull the edges by running the bone folder along the edge and pushing the sharp side back.
At this point, if you reeeally wanted to call it a day, you could – just secure the way shown in Step 6. But we want to give this a more finished, burnt-copper look – I actually did attempt burning the copper at first, and would STRONGLY advise against this without the proper equipment or know-how. So instead, beneath some of the deeper “valleys,” cut out very narrow ellipses with the craft knife, and push them back with the bone folder to create “burn holes.”
In a well-ventilated area, lay your copper sheets face-side down (so that the side opposite the one you pushed through is face-up), and if need be, cover your workspace. With long, broad strokes and following the directions on the can, spray paint the copper sheets and allow to dry.
Once the paint has dried, use small daubs of finishing wax on a rag to rub the spray painted side. You want to dull its sheen and rub away some of the paint so that it looks charred. Dip the corner of a rag in the wood stain/finish and dab along the edges and around the holes to give the front edges a more burnt look. Wipe away any excess in upward strokes, and allow to dry.
On the shorter piece of copper, fold the edges to hook them together: one edge folded toward the back, and the other folded towards the front. Standing the piece on its flat end, hook the edges together and flatten to secure.
Roll the taller piece of copper into a tube, and insert into the center of your shorter piece. Spiral outward and adjust until it feels right.
Cut a small notch where you’d like the cord to exit, sit the lamp or cord set in the center of the piece, and light it up!
A quiet way to light up a dark corner, it’s a great, unique spin on seasonal decor – you get all of the moody warmth without having to box it away at the end of the season, and since the copper is left “loose,” the application can vary throughout the year. It would look great stretched across a mantle or obscuring objects on a small shelf. Instead of a light, you could drop a vase in the middle and have it function as a seasonal table centerpiece, or put it around a vibrant green potted plant for a little contrast and shine. If you’re going for something more defined, you could punch holes along the sides, use leather twine to tie the pieces together, and hot glue onto a chipboard base.