DIY: Lamp from Vintage Book Pages

We had some plastic “Zip” letters. We had an old 1961 Wizard of Oz book with cool illustrations. We thought “wouldn’t it be fun to make a lamp that reveals a little secret when you turn it on?”

This is how we made our magic-vintage-book-word-lamp.

First we picked our favorite illustrations and decided on a good word – “OZ” repeated 2x was perfect.

We needed holes in the edges because the 4 sides were to be joined with little 1/2″ metal book rings. We figured out the distance our holes should be from the edges, made a little template from an old coaster, and drilled through the coaster into the plastic. We placed a piece of scrap wood in the back to prevent the drill from going into the table. :)

The book was too cool to cut up, so we copied our favorite illustrations onto white cover stock.


Copies of the book illustrations onto white cover stock. We were a little paranoid about copying a book, so we conducted a little research online and deduced the Wizard of Oz is public domain as of 1956 or so.

Then we placed the letters onto the pages and lightly traced the corners with pencil onto the page to mark the positioning.


Next we spray glued (Super 77) the back of the page and placed it in a window. Using the pencil lines as a guide, we carefully placed the right side of the letter onto the back of the picture.

We burnished the pages onto the plastic letters. Working from the back side, we used a very sharp X-Acto knife to trim away the excess paper, holding the knife firmly against the plastic edge. We held the plastic letter up to the light to see where the drilled hole was located and used a skewer to poke a hole through the paper.

After doing that for all four letters, we attached them at the corners with the metal rings.


We needed a small lamp so we made one with a small socket and some scrap wood. (There are lots of tutorials out there for wiring your own lamp!)


That’s all there is to it – there’s no place like home.





Some complicated thoughts:

You can order individual Zip letters here (and probably other places). The Zip letters have slightly rounded edges which allows room for the lamp cord to pass through, which is nice. A drawback is that not all the plastic letters are not the same width, and if you are making a square lamp, that’s a problem. So one has to do a little planning, which is hard to do if the letters are not in front of you. This is one of the reasons we chose a two letter word (“OZ”) and repeated it. Another option is to cut clear acrylic sheets, available at craft stores. You can make your own letters by cutting them from black paper and spray gluing them onto the plastic, then spray gluing your image. Then you can make all your sides the same width. You would need to figure out a way to pass your cord through though – you could always drill a hole in the plastic towards the bottom, and thread the cord through before you wire up the lamp.

I told you these were complicated thoughts. Let us know what you come up with!

To see more of Heidi’s artwork, visit her at Old Stuff. New Stories.


7 thoughts on “DIY: Lamp from Vintage Book Pages

    • Thanks Linda! We’ve got a lot of letters – what else should we make? It would be great to figure out a way to do a word flat against the wall and make it more like a wall sconce. Then wouldn’t be limited by the width of the letters or by having it be 4 sides.

  1. I won’t be coming up with anything like this – you guys are just too good! I’m happy to sit back and watch your creative adventures….:-)
    My favourite line = “We needed a small lamp so we made one …”. Just like that. Uber cool.

    • Thanks Jill! I think the same thing about you whipping out those adorable crocheted hats! My 13 year old daughter has requested a slouchy beanie for her birthday so I had to ask her grandmother to make her one! (she didn’t want a light fixture)

  2. What a cool idea for using those letters. I could see them too in one of those old bathroom vanity lights. They were glass and usually rectangular in shape. I remember the nice ones were frosted and etched. I have some old school readers that I bought for the illustrations. They’re so nostalgic, love the artwork in those old books. But I would copy them too rather than chop them up. They’re hard to find in good condition now

    • That is a great idea – I need to work on something like that – a wall fixture.

      I find it hard to cut up books too, magazines not so much, but books yes…. I worry a little about copyright, if I think I’m going to sell something though.

      • Oh ya right. Good to be careful. Even scrapbook products must be licensed if you’re going to make something for sale. Like an artstamp to make cards for sale. I try to be cognitive about that too. I’ve never added a copyright disclaimer on my site, but I see it on a lot of sites. I guess I should think about it sometime.

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