I made this plastic cup lamp for a Sarakku party (Booze party) that we had last week-end at home. It was a barbecue cum Sarakku party that we had been planning for a very long time with friends and which finally happened last weekend. It was also the eve of my husband’s birthday. I thought it would be fitting to have a huge plastic cup lamp as the centrepiece. You see the plastic cup is synonymous with sarakku (booze) here in TamilNadu (drink, crush and throw). This lamp is super easy to make, fully functional, practical and symbolic of the Moda kudi (extreme booze if you will) that happens at such parties. Best of all, the lamp is so cheap! I bought 2 packs of 100 plastic cups each and the total cost was less than 100 rupees. You’ll need a stapler and about half a pack of stapler pins. That’s it. Staple away.
You could make these lamps in any shape you want – I made a dome shape. I actually wanted to make a spherical lamp but I used up around 130 lamps just for one half of the sphere, I knew I didn’t have enough for another half, so I let it be a dome shaped lamp. This dome shape with the underside open turned out to be more convenient to fit in the light. So being flexible like this and not having a plan is actually good.
We didn’t factor in the weather while planning this outdoor party. Who does that in Chennai? How often does it rain in Chennai? But we’re notoriously unlucky in that way. It was super sultry that evening and we had to retrieve our long forgotten air-cooler to create some circulation on the terrace. We had the barbecue going and everything went along great. And then it rained. Really lucky, right! Thankfully we were almost through and only our last batch of chicken remained to be grilled. We hurriedly moved everything in. But it was a short shower. It was then nice and chill, almost like in Ooty (not that cold obviously, but how would Ooty be if Ooty was in Chennai? It was like that) – even better for boozing. The men continued un-deterred determined to out-puke each other.
We couldn’t hang the lamp in the middle as we didn’t have a near enough light socket, so we had to hang it in a corner. But it looked great and I was delighted that my idea actually worked. Drawn in by the bright light, a few little bees flew right into the lamp and settled inside the cups. They seemed at home inside the cups, more spacious and better lit than their hives. The kids were fascinated by the bees sitting inside the plastic cups. They hung around the lamp crying out to everyone to come and see the bees. As always, the lamp was greatly appreciated by the women and ridiculed by the men. The lamp looked even better after the rain – little water droplets shimmering all over. For a more stunning set-up, make 4-5 large lamps or as many as your space needs and hang them all in varying heights above the bar-table. Or hang them separately all around the hall or whatever space you’re using. You could use paper cups for diffused lighting but they wouldn’t be as weather resistant as these plastic cups. You could use coloured lights for more visual appeal.
Things you’ll need:
Plastic cups – 120-140
Light bulb with a holder and a long wire (Electrical shops will do this for you)
1. Place cups side by side with the rims touching and then staple them a little below the rim. Continue stapling cups side by side as if forming a plastic cup chain. Place the stapled cups on a flat surface and gently bend the stapled cups to make a circle. If you need to add more cups, staple some more and try again to make a circle. The size of the circle depends on your cup size. When you’re able to bring together the two ends of the plastic cup chain without too much force, staple the two ends together. Now you have the base of the lamp.
2. Now create a similar layer on top of the base. Place a plastic cup on top of the base, positioning it in between two cups, staple about 1 inch below the rim to the 2 cups below it. Continue stapling more cups, making sure to staple with the adjacent cup in its layer and the 2 cups in the lower layer.
3. Create as many layers as it takes to finish the dome. The topmost layer may have just 3 cups. The lamp is ready. To insert the light, make some space by gently scrunching the cups at the top and adjusting them around.