How to Make a Taiwan Beer Ambient Lamp

While this has little to do with actually learning Chinese, it does involve Chinese characters, which is hopefully enough to justify a post here on ChineseHacks – plus the outcome of this was so cool I had to share it.

What we’re going to be making today is an ambient lamp out of a box of “Gold Medal Taiwan Beer”. Here’s the finished result to save you scrolling to the end:

Taiwan Beer Ambient Lamp

What you’ll need

  • A cardboard box (free) – My choice was a Taiwan Beer box, though you could use any brand, and if you can’t source a box with Chinese characters, then there’s nothing stopping you stencilling some on
  • A craft/utility knife (about $2US) – You’ll need a decent knife to make a clean cut around the characters
  • A lamp (about $8US) – All I could find was a work lamp and just removed the weather shield
  • Corrugated plastic sheets ($2US each) – I bought an orange and yellow sheet, both are about 4mm thick, though 2mm would also be fine
  • Adhesive – I used a glue gun, but super glue or any plastic adhesive would be fine, too
  • Time – About 3 to 5 hours, it really depends on how long you spent cutting out the characters
  • Taiwan Beer – for drinking when you complete the lamp

What you'll need

Cut out the characters

Using your craft knife carefully start to cut out the Chinese characters from the cardboard box.

Cut out the characters using a craft knife

I found the best way to do this was to first score the first layer of the cardboard, the steadily go over the lines applying further pressure to cut through the corrugated layer. This is why you need a sharp knife with a blade locking function – otherwise you’ll end up with a rough cut or damaged cardboard from applying too much pressure.

Use a sharp knife with a locking blade

One of the problems I had to overcome, was that as some parts of the characters were complete blocks, and if they were cut out completely would just leave a big hole, like a silhouette of the character. To get around this I opted to leave a small strip to the right of each such section. So long as you chose a system and stick to it, the characters should look uniform and the legibility shouldn’t be affected.

Be careful to leave a strip on certain characters

Cutting out the characters takes a long time, so you’d better get comfy – just don’t drink the beers at this stage, though, as you’ll need all of your fingers for the rest of the project.

Fit the Lamp

Depending on the space within your box, you might want to do step 3 first (affixing the plastic sheets) and then return here, though as my box was quite roomy I opted to fit the lamp first.

Time to fit the lamp

I removed the weather shield/shade from the lamp and was left with a fitting that resembled a standard room light. I then unscrewed the light fitting from the cable to measure a hole to insert the light fitting through.

Make a hole for the light fitting

I made a small hole, and then gradually enlarged the hole until the fitting could just about fit through with a push. The last thing you want to do is create a hole that is too big, so cut-and-check until you get the right size.

The lamp was then fitted and the the cable end was screwed back on to hold it in place. For a safety measure, I also put the bulb cage back on that came with the lamp – hopefully this will stop the bulb from touching the cardboard and possibly causing a fire.

The installed lamp

Light fitting outside

Affix the Corrugated Plastic Sheets

To test the lamp before properly affixing the plastic, I just placed a large piece of the plastic into the box behind the lettering, then I turned off the lights and tested the lamp.

Cut the corrugated plastic

Place the plastic and test the light

Looking good so far!

It became clear at this stage that if this was to be a lamp, rather than simply a glowing sign, a panel would need to be cut out from the back of the box to allow more light through – but let’s first affix the orange plastic to the front with the glue gun.

Glue the plastic in place

Affix the plastic inside the box

Here’s the finished front after affixing the orange plastic:

The finished front

As I mentioned earlier, for this to be a any sort of decent lamp, there needs to be a bigger area for light to escape than the Chinese characters at the front. For the back of the box I decided to cut out two panels and cover them with yellow plastic to vary the colour emitted from the lamp.

Cut out the back panels

The finished back

The Finished Lamp

That is pretty much it. What I did next was to seal any small holes from the inside, particularly in the corners, with duct tape, to stop white light from escaping. I also cut a few pieces of coloured plastic and used then on any large gaps – the box I chose has two large slits on either side.

Here’s the finished product:

The finished Lamp with beer

The finished Taiwan Beer Lamp

If you made it this far, you may now open your beers and sit back while admiring your hard work!

3 responses to “How to Make a Taiwan Beer Ambient Lamp

    1. Hi Gosunkugi,
      Thanks for the comment. Yes, that’s why I left the bulb cage on, and I have been keeping an eye on it. Also, as with any lamp I’ve not been leaving it on when going out of the house. It’s really just for when watching movies etc and need some ambient light.

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