This is the Urbanomic Interiors version of the Mooi "Random Light"

Imitation as Flattery::The Urbanomic version of the Mooi Random Light

Originally posted on our old web site on  May 12, 2011
A few weeks ago I was on Bank St in Ottawawith a friend, exploring some of the Glebe’s wonderful shops.    There was one particular store that I was thrilled to be able to go into called The Modern Shop –  because I always seemed to pass by when it was closed.
The store has a lovely selection of iconic modern furniture and lighting pieces for sale, and I was excited to finally be able to check out their wares.Upon seeing Mooi’s random light hanging from the ceiling, I turned to my friend and said, “I love that light fixture.  I am going to make one of my own!To which the shopkeeper scoffed, Everyone thinks they can make that light!
The orginal Mooi Random light retails for $600-$2000 depending on the size & retailer.”

Obviously he doesn’t know me very well.

I took his disbelief as a challenge.  I like challenges!  I’m feisty like that.  Besides, the weeks go by pretty slowly if all you do is sit at your desk and draft floor plans on AutoCAD all day.  I didn’t become a designer so I could be a desk jockey.  I much prefer to get dirty and make stuff!!

Turning again to my friend I said,  “Have you met me?! I can absolutely make that light fixture, or at least something VERY similar, and probably for MUCH less.”

You see, when I was a kid my art projects often rivalled the teachers in craftsmanship.  I was so good at art, I didn’t know I was good at it.  So I didn’t see living up to this challenge as being much of a problem.

So, over the past couple of weeks at Urbanomic Interiors, we have been creating our own version of the Mooi Random light, but with an Urbanomic twist – we did it on a dollar store budget!  That’s right.  We set out to make a DIY version of this light fixture as inexpensively as possible.  The original fixture retails from $600-$2000, depending on the size, and the retailer.

Guess how much we made it for?

Keep reading to find out!  😉

How did we do it?

I recalled one particular craft project from grade-school where we used an inflated balloon as a mould for a paper maché mask.  I figured I could use a similar approach to this project, and that is exactly what we did.

First we looked up a paper maché recipe online. Pretty simple.  Water and flour.  2 parts water to 1 part flour actually, but we decided to throw in some extra flour and a good amount of white craft glue, just for extra sturdiness.

Stephanie mixes up the paper maché mixture.
Paper Maché Mixture: 1 part flour : 2 parts water, and a whole lotta glue for good measure.

Then my lovely intern, Stephanie Dubois, and I headed to Dollarama to purchase the first round of supplies for our Urbanomic Mooi Random Light knockoff.    The easiest thing to find was the white glue.  We had to ask a clerk where the string was (in the gardening section) and since they didn’t have any white, we settled on a lovely orange.  We initially picked up 2 bolts of string, each which had 350 ft of string on them. Next we needed to find something large, round and inflatable. I thought of using an exercise ball, but I was not sure how easy it would be to get it out of the opening afterwards, because they are relatively bulky compared to a balloon.  We also could not find any yoga balls at the Dollarama, so we settled on a HUGE ASS balloon from the kid section, which gave my lungs one heck of a workout, and made me rather dizzy.  (Maybe I shouldn’t have passed up on the $1.25 manual air pump after all.)

Suspending the balloon from the basement ceiling.
That is one BIG ASS balloon!!

We strung the balloon up to a nail in the basement ceiling.  The basement ceiling is low, and the floor is not finished, so it was the ideal place for us to do this.  We still put protective sheets on the floor, and it is a good thing, because it ended up being a VERY messy job.

The next problem we had to solve was how to quickly get lengths of the string saturated in the maché mixture while leaving our hands free for wrapping.  First we tried unravelling a whole bunch of it at a time but had to take turns holding it in the mixture because it became knotted quite easily.  Next we tried using a freestanding toilet paper holder to dispense the string, but it was hard to saturate the string as we pulled it.  Eventually we put the entire bolt of string in the bowl and weighed it down by sticking a metal object in the middle of the bolt, which enabled us to pull the soaked string pretty quickly.

Here we begin wrapping the balloon with the sloppy string soaked in the  paper maché mixture.

We knotted the loose end of the string to where the balloon was tied, positioned ourselves opposite each other, and started wrapping…

and wrapping…

and wrapping…

and wrapping…

After 1 bolt of string.

On more than once occasion a bunch of the string even unravelled because the bare balloon was so slippery!! Eventually we got a technique down passing the string up and over, down and around, and holding it in place until it was secured with the next round. Before we knew it…we ran out of string.   Apparently 700 ft. of string is not enough to adequately cover such a HUGE ASS BALLOON.

Oh, and did I mention that it was VERY MESSY??! There were drips of mixture everywhere –  all over our clothes, our hair , our shoes … and pretty much every other  object within a 6ft radius of the balloon.  Stephanie ended up protecting her clothes by slipping on a  garbage bag, and I put on my apron.

on the 2nd bolt of string.
Stephanie poses in her garbage bag after 2 bolts of string

Once we ran out of string, we decided to let our lampshade dry as it was, and then a couple of days later we continued  by adding on 3 additional bolts of string. In total we wrapped 1750 ft. of string.

after 5 bolts of string
paper maché is pretty drippy stuff.
We used a roll of masking tape to form an opening so that we could reach our hand in and change the bulb etc.

After a few days of drying, it was time to pop the balloon.  It was the weekend and I was so excited that I couldn’t wait until Monday when Steph would return.)  First I pried the balloon loose in some areas, worried that the string might stick to it, and then all cave in with the force of the implosion.  I took out a tack and….POP!! As the balloon shriveled up and disconnected from it’s now hardened string shell, flakes of glue and flour fell gently, accompanied by a soft cracking sound.

After the balloon was popped!

What a mess!

I vacuumed up the mess and then carefully took the balloon outside to try to loosen some of the flakes that were still stuck inside with a hand broom.  In retrospect, the extra flour in the maché mixture may not have been a great idea, because it made areas of the string cloudy in some spots, along with a dried white film in some of the openings.  Some of the hardened openings required us to perform a small amount of delicate surgery with a blade to open them back up, but all in all, our experiment seemed quite successful so far.

there were some dried bits of glue that needed to be removed
Stephanie performs surgery on the lampshade.
The “guts” for our lamp.

Next we had to figure out a way to suspend and light our lampshade.

I picked up a JANUARI light fixture from IKEA for $14.99 because it had a nice brushed steel stem. (Ok, so I kinda lied – we didn’t make the ENTIRE light out of dollar store materials – just the shade part. I also purchased a lovely halogen bulb that had the same shape as the average incandescent one.  I modified the JANUARI light by severing the plug and a lot of the very long chord so that it could be hard wired, and we left the shade off since we made our own.

We found a simple white canopy and some threaded pipe from from Canadian Tire, some nuts for the threaded pipe at lighting store (because NO ONE else seemed to have these), and some large washers with a small opening from a metal fastener store. The nuts and washers were kindly given to us for free, which made us very happy, because I didn’t think anything was free any more. It took us half a day of running around figuring out all the parts we needed for the “guts” of our lamp.

The most difficult part was figuring out how to suspend the lamp in such a way that it would not damage the delicate string structure, while ensuring it was supported. We needed a disc or a cup shaped item that offered enough surface to rest the shade on.  We ended up using a CD and sandwiching the top of the shade between it and a couple of washers, all secured with the threaded pipe and nuts. The main point of the washer was to reduce the size of the CD’s hole so that it sat on top of the stem of our JANUARI fixture once we slipped our chord through it.  It all came together very nicely!

We used washers to secure the shade on the outside
Inside the shade we used a CD and some washers for support. 
Well this seems pretty sturdy!
After we wired it up!

Next we took it to the dining room and hard wired it to the existing junction box and………………………

VOILA!! We were pretty excited when we saw the awesome pattern that the shade created on the wall and ceiling!


We were pretty excited when we saw the awesome pattern that the shade created on the wall and ceiling! I wonder if the original fixture does the same thing, or if it only because of the colour & thickness of the string we used?  It actually has a bizarre effect when the shade catches a breeze – out of the corner of your eye it will appear as though the entire room is moving giving a bit of a vertigo sensation at first.  I’m used to it by now, but I imagine it might make some people a little seasick!!

How cool is that? (Pretty friggin’ cool if you as us!!)


And the clerk and the store thought it couldn’t be done…..HA!!

In the end our total cost to make this lamp was $28.72 and it took about 10 hours to create, including sourcing & purchasing materials, making the shade and installing it.

And the clerk at the store told me it couldn’t be done…. well, I think I proved him wrong – don’t you agree!?!?!

If you decide to try one of your own we would love to hear about your results!!

Or, if you would like us to make one for you, let us know and we can talk about a price. 😉

Good luck!!

Heidi Helm

Urbanomic Interiors




  1. I like the new site. Congrats!

  2. June Winger Says: September 24, 2014 at 10:01 am

    AWESOME light! I am going to try making one for my foyer this winter!

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