Papier mâché, and other stressful things


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I have a growing list of design projects I’d like to complete during my time in Malaysia. I’ll never get an opportunity to have so much time off (from paid work) again, so I want to make the most of my free time. Having many projects, and adding to the list fairly regularly, has me stressed out a bit. I have a short attention span, and I want to finish everything now!

458-BK-Lamp-Shade-v1.jpg

Case in point: Above is an illustration of some papier mâché lampshades I want to make. I’ve visualised them and researched how to make them, but the task has no real urgency other than my own expectations and enthusiasm. And there’s nowhere really to hang them in out apartment. But I still want to make them. Now!

A design project which is urgent is for a proper dining table. A larger, non-wobbly-non-Ikea dining table would provide us with an adequate setting to invite some KL friends (yes Mum, we’ve made some) over for dinner and drinks. Foster some friendships. Important stuff. The downside for me as a designer is relying on such as a carpenter to build it, which is one reason for the delay. I like to keep my friends close, and my design projects even closer.

Then there’s really non-urgent projects on my list: finishing some fonts I’ve started (I’ll be speaking with you on that, Marty); completing a large set of icons I’ve started; designing several new icons to replace terrible existing ones for applications I use — I just can’t look at ugly icons day in, day out. I’d love to squeeze these projects in too, but they are 100% self-indulgent and could be seen as a waste of time — little or no reward for many hours work. I guess job-satisfaction is important even when I’m jobless.

I also have personal (and professional) development projects I’d love to undertake, like a couple of music remixes, some video projects, and short courses I have my eye on.

And I want to learn how to touch type.[1. Especially now that the MacBook Air doesn’t have backlit keyboard and it’s harder to type in complete darkness while the wife gently sleeps.]

And I want to finish several Wii games.

How do I prioritise? How do I choose one over the other with so many varying benefits, urgencies, and levels of enthusiasm?[2. Yes, I am fully aware that this is a nice conundrum to have.] Dunno. Maybe I should just pick one to give the creative ball a nudge; get it rolling and see what happens. At the very least, I’d’ve put the bloody Wii to some use.

  • Sienna
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    Sienna Sienna

    These look amazing. I would love to know how they turned out if you’ve made them now. I am looking to make a papier mache lamp shade for a standing lamp I’m making but I want it to look modern like the ones in your picture. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Barto
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      Barto Barto

      Hi Sienna.

      I have not made them yet, hoping to get the chance before the year is out. I think I’ll construct them with chicken wire mesh first, then build on top with the paper.

      Good luck with your project.

  • Sienna
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    Sienna Sienna

    Thank you. Quick question. Have you researched much about how fire safe they are? I’ve looked into it a bit and it seems ok with a low watt globe but I was just wondering what your thoughts on it are.

  • Barto
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    Barto Barto

    I did look into it briefly, but I can’t remember any definitive answer/s. I suspect the following (based on my vague recollection of my ‘research’, and common sense):

    • As long as the lightbulb doesn’t touch anything on the inside, it should be fine.* I can’t imagine papier mache getting hot enough from indirect heat to ignite.
    • I thought I’d be able to get some sort of fire retardant paint, or clear lacquer for the inside. This is something I’m pretty sure I read during my ‘research’. My plan was to paint the inside orange, and cover with a clear fire-proof lacquer, just in case a bulb blows and sparks abound.
    • I believe energy-saving fluorescent bulbs burn much cooler than conventional bulbs.** I use these bulbs around the house exclusively. I also expect to move to LED lights in the not too distant future (a few years?) when bulbs become cheaper and more readily available.

    When it comes time to make them (one day, one day) I’ll look into this again. I think it’s a pretty important point to think about when designing something like this. Last thing you want is to burn your house down :(

    * This is speculation only, I don’t know if it’s true. A google search will reveal the answer I’m sure.