August 12, 2009

Colors - Part 2 - BLUE

The Book - In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck

Finally, a child with more sleep-crutches than my own! It's time for bed and Alice's mom creates the perfect sleep environment. Fragrant flowers, tinkling chimes, steaming tea, a comfy blanket... Alice objects to each one in turn, declaring they are not her favorite color - blue. Her objections weaken each time, until she is finally fast asleep.

The title of the story is repeated throughout, although as the illustrations show, nothing about the room is blue. At the very end of the story, Alice's mother turns out the lamp and moonlight bathes the room in a blue hue. Finally, it really is "a blue room".

The illustrations are whimsical and hit a perfect chord with the lyrical tone of the story. The language is sensual with phrases like "lilacs and lilywhites give off a gentle scent" and "lullaby bells to sing you to sleep". It's a delight to read out-loud and does as good a job of setting the mood for bedtime as Alice's nighttime routine.

The Craft - MYO Spinning Lamp Insert

I remember seeing one of these spinning (or carousel) lamps in the movie Panic Room and I loved it. When Little Page became old enough for a night light, I scoured ebay for one. When I was pregnant with Littlest Page, I found its twin at a garage sale. So now both my girls fall asleep with twinkling stars spinning around their rooms.

These nightlights truly are magical, but unfortunately it's hard to find pretty inserts. I was really lucky to find two with a moon and stars motif. Most seem to splash Spongebob Squarepants or some such cartoon-themed image across the wall. If you find a lamp on ebay or at a garage sale, you can make your own insert. Here's how:
  1. Take a piece of acetate and cut in half, so that it measures 8" x 4.75". Hot glue the ends together to create one long piece.

  2. Let your child decorate the acetate with permanent markers. We used sharpies to create a simple garden scene. You'll want as much of the plastic colored in as possible.

  3. When the art is dry, glue the ends together to create a tube. At this point, I suggest removing the cardboard top of your existing insert and attaching it to your new artwork, or at least using it as a template to create a new one. I did not want to destroy our current insert, so I did my best at guessing how to make one. Here's what I tried:

  4. Cut a 7-8" circle out of cardstock. Cut a strip of paper and tape into a ring the same size as the inside of your acetate cylinder.

  5. Measure two inches along the perimeter of the cardstock, marking at each point. Cut from these marks to about one inch from the center of the paper. Here's the tricky part...

  6. Fold each flap of the cardstock into the paper ring, so that it overlaps the one before it and is slightly angled. You're trying to create a fan that will catch the heat of the bulb and turn the insert.

  7. Place the dome you just created into the cylinder and tape to hold in place. Using a pin, balance the dome evenly and prick a hole in that spot. (Note: If your dome ends up being too tall, try inserting a pushpin through the top, then stick a pencil eraser on the tip. This should take care of the height issue and provide a surface for the insert to balance upon.)

  8. Set in your lamp and turn it on. Now you have your own blue (or red or green or...) room!

(Welcome to everyone visiting from A Soft Place to Land's DIY Day!)


  1. This is adorable! I just found one of these carousel lamps while thrifting with Shelley in Lancaster. It was $2.50 and has a pretty bug insert. The boys LOVE it! Zeph's been begging for a night light so this is perfect. Only problem is that it doesn't spin on its own. Is it supposed to with the heat of the light bulb? Also, why no comments people??? Show my sister some love!!!

  2. I love these lamps, and I've always wanted to know how to make the fan-assembly without destroying the one I own. And I've tried guessing how the fins are created, but the things that I made never worked. (Or simply looked like a car had run over them.) And you have posted the instructions! You know, I've been looking for instructions for...oh my God, I think it may be three years now, off-and-on!
    If you Google, you'll find that many people besides myself want instructions. No one ever answers!
    I don't suppose I could talk you into posting a few more pictures of your crafting process? Maybe a YouTube video?
    Keep up the good work!

  3. I dont know if I am making this more complicated than it really is, but I have been trying to make a fan like this one for days now. I cannot for the life of me get it to be balanced enough for the cylinder to spin freely.
    Also, if the watt on the bulb is higher, it should create more heat. I know my bulb isn't enough to push a fan around.
    Maybe using rice paper for the cylinder and a lighter paper for the fan would make it easier to turn.

    Thank you so much for your post. Like Anonymous said, there are thousands of articles on magic lamps, but never a single one on how to make it. All except yours, of course.


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