Craft kit chaos is over!
I have completed the Guidecentral multifaceted lamp kit and survived!
In completing this craft kit, I have proved to myself that you do not have to be a maths genius to make this lamp. The misery I felt at the start of the project all melted away when I plugged the lamp in whilst singing Climb Every Mountain very loudly.
My house has been neglected and my studio, once again, looks as if someone picked it up and shook it. But hey, I have a wonderful, unusual lamp, designed by a young Italian designer and put together by me. The messy house is not a problem. During the day, I don’t have time to look at it and in the evenings, the shadows cast by the new lamp hide most of it. There is a very good reason my website is called anything except housework! I have to live up to that name and I must say I do it very well.
So, the craft kit – how was it for me?
It was a roller-coaster ride during which I said most of the things that people say when on a roller-coaster. For example at the start of the ride, while going very slowly up the big hill feeling quite cocky you say, ‘I can do this! Of course I can! Nothing to it!” Then there is that moment where you say ‘Oh bleep, what have I done?’, juuuust as the front wheels go over the top and the screaming begins.
If you read part one of Craft Kit Challenge you will know that my first ‘oh bleep what have I done’ moment came when I got stuck on Step 1. I could not divide the 19 cm square pieces of corrugated cardboard into eight frames and one small square. But I got over that one when I let the computer do it for me and I produced the perfect template – or so I thought.
Ok, so making this template was like the exhilarating moment when you get to the bottom of the first big drop on the world’s tallest roller coaster and realise you didn’t die. Straight back to cocky again. So that was me the morning after realising my teachers were wrong when they said ‘loozerr!’ Anyway, the last laugh was mine for about 2 minutes. I printed off five templates, ran the removable adhesive roller over one and attempted to fit it to my first piece of card. It was slightly too small all round. My heart hit the floor and the maths gremlins came back to taunt me. I still have no idea why the computer insists my template is 19cm squared – because it isn’t.
After many adjustments and wasted paper (oh don’t tut you greenies, I have saved it and will make a nice hat or something), I got the template the right size to fit the cardboard and the brakes were off again. Gremlins were slayed and I was back on the ride feeling like I might make it to the end in one piece.
A Craft Kit Could Change Your Life – it Changed Mine – I think I am Clever Now!
Now this is where the hard work really begins with this particular craft kit from Guidecentral’s range. Cutting corrugated cardboard neatly is not easy – it is a challenge. However, my reason for making the lamp was vastly different to that of someone who has bought the kit. For example, I wanted to get it done as quickly as possible because I could not write this review until it was finished. I did not want it to drag on for days so I put pressure on myself to get it all done at once. For someone who wants a challenging craft project to pick up and put down at will, the cutting wouldn’t be a big deal.
Cutting down the corrugations (I may have made that word up, I’m not sure), is easy enough, but, cutting across them is trickier, although eminently doable. After going at it like a mad woman gutting a fish, I realized I needed to go very gently across the card with the tip of the craft knife to ease it through the corrugations in stages, going deeper each time. There is definitely a technique to it. Going at it like Norman Bates (aka Anthony Perkins) in the shower scene from Psycho doesn’t work. Light, confident, relaxed strokes of the craft knife down the lines works really well.
The craft knife that is supplied with the kit is perfect for the job. I did try a Stanley knife at one point but preferred the one that came with the craft kit. One word of caution, if you get this kit, make sure you lock the blade in position once you extend it for cutting.
Sounds obvious now but, I neglected to do this and consequently made some bad cuts when the blade was unstable and I hadn’t stopped to figure out why (see ‘slapdash’ on my old school report in Part 1 of this review!) In my defence, there were no instructions with the craft knife. This is an issue that I think needs to be sorted. The black button where the arrow is (see above) needs to be pushed back (as in pic) to lock it and pushed forward to move the blade in and out. I guess most craft knives work that way but I don’t know much about that type of knife.
The other issue I found with the craft knife was that I could not snap the end blade off when it got a bit dull. Turns out that I needed a man to do it. Sorry if any feminists are reading this but I couldn’t do it and he could – deal with it. I quite often use my husband as a craft tool/adviser/assistant but unfortunately he wasn’t here at the time I needed to use a new blade. No amount of whining on the phone would make him leave work to sort out my craft knife. So it did get harder to cut the cardboard towards the last few cuts – but that was my fault for not waiting
From Craft Kit Chaos Comes Order
Once the first 19 cm square was cut successfully into frames, I became delirious with joy and celebrated with a cup of tea. Designer Linda has told me she is very impressed with how clean my cuts are – so I really didn’t want to disillusion her by including this photo. But I have to be honest about it – my first cuts weren’t that great because I was using the Norman Bates approach to using the craft knife. Linda, as the designer of this kit, is naturally keen to see how I got on with it. So now you know the truth Linda – one side ain’t that great! But I did improve as time went on.
After cutting each of the five cards, I stopped to assemble and glue them so they could dry while I was cutting the next one. I don’t normally get excited over things like white glue – I mean why would I? But in the case of the glue that comes with this craft kit, I have to make an exception. It is the best white glue I have ever used but I can’t pronounce it because it is Italian. It says Ceys Cola Blanca Rapida Para Madera Acabado Transparente. From that I can just about work out that it’s white, rapid (at drying I guess) and transparent. Never had glue dry so ‘rapida’! I was worried about gluing all the sides together. I thought I would have to sit and hold them but this stuff is amazing; it was holding the sides together after about one minute.
The cube was put together pretty quickly because the glue was perfect for the task – no waiting around or sides falling over.
Then it was time to tackle the more challenging tasks such as the light fitting and the base. In hindsight, these were not really that hard at all. If I were to make this lamp again, and I am sure I will, I would not be apprehensive about this stage. It seemed complicated at the time but it really wasn’t – it just needed common sense.
Craft Kit Ups and Downs As The End Is In Sight
So with some mega glue, common sense and lots of tea I made it almost to the end of the roller coaster feeling exhilarated. Instead of wind in my hair, I had a bit of glue. But here was one more hiccup right at the end when an obstacle threatened to derail the car but guess what – I smashed it with some cheating or ‘hacking’ as I think cheating is now called.
There is a very bulky, heavy ceramic light fitting with this craft kit. All along I wondered how there would be enough clearance under the lamp to stand it on a surface. The instructions that come with the lamp are quite vague about making the base; when you get to Step 6, it simply says ‘compose a new frame using cardboard strips’. However, the web address for Linda’s original instructions on Guidecentral is provided and so I went online to get clarification. Well the answer to that one is, you need to build a 7 cm tall base from the cardboard left over from making the sides of the lamp. At least, I assume that is what you are meant to use.
Each side of the cube is made using only the first, third, fifth and seventh frames. That leaves all the rest. However, as the biggest left-over frame is smaller than the lamp base, you would need to cut them up and make new frames from the pieces.
As I couldn’t face the arduous task of building a neatly cut 7cm tall base from the left over frames I turned to the only other cardboard supplied with the kit – the box it came in. After creating about four layers of the base frame and finding it only measured 2cm tall – I began to lose the will to live. There is nothing like the prospect of a long walk home to make you look for a shortcut – so that is what I did. I figured out it is much easier to measure and cut small squares from strips of cardboard than it is to compose whole frames. So I added five more centimeters of height to my base by making four ‘legs’ and attaching them to the four corners of the base. Once I started making the legs, I had the base finished within 15 minutes.
So I was really happy with my craft kit hack (doesn’t that sound better than cheating!). And it worked really well because instead of having to cut out part of the base to get the plug through – it just passed easily through the legs. Job Done! Then it was freewheeling all the way home. I stuck the shade to the base and left it all to dry thoroughly. It had been a marathon effort to get this done in a couple of days but I learned so much from the process.
I absolutely love this lamp. If I had bought the craft kit – it I would be very pleased with it. There are a few niggles with it that a beginner crafter may find difficult, so I would not recommend it to anyone just starting to explore crafts. Guidecentral does have kits that are much easier and gentler on the mind! However, I prefer a challenge and I certainly had one with this lamp. It is amazing to me that a small pile of lightweight corrugated cardboard could translate into this lamp.
The reason for the bulky ceramic light fitting becomes clear once you fit it into the shade (apart from the obvious one of providing light!) – the weight it adds to the lamp stabilizes it and makes it heavy enough to be a viable fixture on a side table. One word of caution – only use an LED bulb in this shade – my pictures do show an ordinary bulb but that is because I did not have an LED one when I did the pictures. Remember, the shade is made of cardboard – so don’t put anything inside it that could heat up.
I give this craft kit a very healthy eight out of ten and would recommend the craft kit to anyone thinking about getting one. However, be warned that you will need extra cardboard to make the base if you do not want to be messing around fitting left-over pieces together. I am not even sure there would be enough unless you do what I did and use the box it comes in. I also think the instructions should be clearer.
Unfortunately, since updating this post in 2021, I have found that all the links to Guide Central, their craft kits and to the designer of this craft kit are now non existent.