How to Make an Aether Lamp on a Budget

Fun, easy, and – most importantly – shiny. Aether lamps look awesome at home, as part of a cosplay, or even as desk swag.They are also easy to make.

Here’s how to capture a little aether of your own.

Lamp 5


Mason jar – Preferably textured (diamond-cut), in any size you desire, though smaller jars are far more manageable. You could also try a plastic container, though mason jar lids are ideal for my method of suspending the light source.

White paint – Any basic acrylic paint will do. You don’t even have to use white, though a different color may not carry the light as well, and will certainly change the feel of your lamp. You will, of course, need a paint brush to apply the paint, and also a damp paper towel.

LED light – As the season shifts from summer to fall, and all the pool toys are relegated to the clearance aisle to make room for back to school gear, little crafters like me descend in search of LEDs. And they’re extremely easy to find. Besides string lights, there are little floating pool lights that were in vogue this season, and if you use some scissors, it’s fairly easy to cut off an extraneous plastic on the outside.

Wire – I used 22 gauge jeweler’s wire. While you don’t have to use this exact size, if you get wire much thicker or thinner, you will not be able to suspend the light source as I have. Also, 22 gauge is easiest to handle with pliers, though you can still work with your hands or try tweezers from a nail kit.

Optional charm and chain/rings – I’m just one of those people with a lot of spare chain scraps and crafting supplies sitting around. I used the royal crest to decorate the front of my jar (aether from her majesty’s royal reserve!), but you can add whatever bits and bobs flip your flappers. I added the chain so I have the option of carrying the light like a lantern at events. But such fripperies are strictly optional.

The Build:

Lamp 1First, paint your jar. Be liberal. Then, before it dries, wipe the paint with the damp paper towel. Careful, now. It’s easy to wipe off more than you meant to remove. But if that happens, never fear! Just add some more paint. This process can be repeated as many times as needed to get the jar the way you want it. I suggest a streaky look. When the light isn’t on, the jar will look like it’s frosted glass that’s seen a few too many storms. When the light is shining, the white paint will amplify the color and glow.

While the paint dries, take a moment to ‘clean’ your LED. I used what was meant to be a pool light, so it had a lot of plastic covering the bulb. This would do nothing but diminish the glow once I put it in the lamp, so I got rid of it. Be careful and never work with the light activated. If possible, remove the battery first. You could damage the light or yourself, and neither would make you happy. Pool lights probably won’t kill you (the makers didn’t want any potential leaks to electrocute a pool-ful of customers), but there are few times in life I suggest tempting fate. This is not one of those times. You don’t have to make the light pretty. In fact, it’s best to leave some rough bits so the wire has something to wrap around.

Lamp 2Next comes the trickiest bit of the whole affair – rigging the light. Loop the wire around the base of your light, leaving easy access to any buttons and, of course, the bulb itself. Leave a long straight piece on either side. Hold the light over the mouth of the jar and bend down the straight little wings until there’s a tiny hook on either side. Your light should rest at the top of the jar, supported by the two pieces of wire. If it’s wobblier than you wish, add two more supports. Mine works just fine with two, but I used a small jar.

Make sure you can close the lid with the light rig in place. If the lid won’t go on, trim any excess wire you can from the outer edges of the hooks. This is where mason jar lids will grant you some grace. The project is possible with other types of lids, but you will have to be very precise, and it might take a few tries to get the balance right.

Lamp 4Now all that’s left is decorating. I used some jewelry fastening rings bound to the lid with wire to affix the chain/handle. I also used wire to bind the charm on the jar. I like how it looks, and make sure you like how your jars look. LEDs won’t heat much, so you can accessorize in nearly any way imaginable. Baubles, gems, complicated wire work, etc.

All that’s left is to turn on the light and dazzle some guests at tea.

Because all successful projects deserve tea.

Make a pot and admire your creation.

Unlike Frankenstein’s monster, it won’t kill your loved ones.

And it’s shiny.

Good work.


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