Assemblage Art Project: Now Here’s a Bright Idea

When it comes to found objects, aka ‘junque,’ my husband no longer even pauses when I tell him to save something he is about to cast out. He knows if I say “Save that!” I have assemblage art on my mind. (He’s even started to make his own assemblages.)

light bulb and spring assemblage
My ‘lightbulb moment’ in assemblage.

So when my husband switched out a giant, globular lightbulb in my cousin’s fancy (but hard to change) porch light, he wasn’t surprised when I said we should keep it. (Though my cousin gave me an odd look.) He just carefully wrapped it up for the 800-mile trek back home.

When we arrived, the first thing I did was remove the lightbulb from our baggage so I could put it someplace safe while I figured out what to do next. I was just going to set it on a shelf, but then I spied another found object waiting for a purpose: a rusty spring coil from an old mattress. It was the perfect size to hold the lightbulb.

I might leave it the way it is, or I might create a more complex found object art assemblage, like the Lightbulb Trophies by Mandy Russell in the September/October 2012 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors.

The main ingredients are vintage Edison-style lightbulbs, wood blocks, and polymer clay. From there, just pull from your stash of paints, found papers, and attachment methods (glue, nails, etc.) to create a unique trophy art assemblage.

light bulb assemblage art mandy russell
‘Lightbulb Trophy’ assemblage
by Mandy Russell.

The trickiest part is creating the polymer socket for the light bulb. Here are Mandy’s directions:

1. Condition the polymer clay by kneading it, and roll it into a ball. Rub a small amount of baby powder all over the metal threads of the lightbulb. Dust your work surface with the powder as well. Push the base of the bulb into the clay ball and work the clay up and around the threads of the bulb, covering them evenly and entirely.

2. Roll the clay-covered end of the bulb along the edge of your work surface, cradling the bulb at the same time. Roll the clay slowly back and forth to achieve a smooth sided, somewhat symmetrical shape. Stand the bulb up on the dusted work surface and apply a slight downward pressure to create a slight downward pressure to create a flat bottom on the clay ball. Try to achieve a bulb that stands vertically with minimal leaning.

3. When you are satisfied with the socket, poke a hole in the center of the flat base using the small dowel.

light bulb assemblage components
Basic components of the lightbulb assemblage.

Check to make sure the screw you have to attach the socket to the wood block will fit through the hole in the clay. Gently and slowly unscrew the bulb from the clay socket.

Note: The baby powder helps the threads slide on the clay but often the shape becomes a bit distorted. Don’t despair if you have to re-sculpt the socket a few times before getting it right.

4. Bake immediately in the toaster oven according to manufacturer’s directions and then let cool.

Now you’re ready to decorate and assemble your trophy.

This is one of several assemblage art projects in this issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. To make sure you don’t miss out on any creative “lightbulb moments,” subscribe to Cloth Paper Scissors and get mixed-media assemblage art ideas all year long.

P.S. I can’t resist asking: How many artists does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Submit your humorous answers below. Be clever!


3D Art and Assemblage, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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