I was sitting at a local production of "A Christmas Story" with my family when I had an epiphany - "Why don't we have a leg lamp at our house?", I thought. And, if we were going to have a leg lamp, it needed to be extra special - it needed to be my leg proudly displayed in our front windows. I figured it would make the perfect Christmas present for my wife so I set out to make the "Major Award" - a hairy leg lamp made from my leg.
How to Make a Leg Lamp
How to Make a Mold and Cast of a Leg
When I had the idea to make a mold and cast of my leg for the Leg Lamp project, I contacted Smooth-On, a company that makes premium casting and molding products. They immediately fell in love with the idea and helped me figure out the best products and methods to make the cast and mold and, just because they really wanted to see the final product, they donated the supplies. So, definitely check them out for your next project [this is not an ad, they did not pay me to endorse or promote their product!]
During my planning, I found the following documents from Smooth-On to be helpful:
Instructions and How to from Smooth-ON https://www.smooth-on.com/applications/lifecasting/
Smooth On Body Double Lifecasting: https://www.smooth-on.com/product-line/body-double/
Video Instructions for making Casts / Molds of body parts
Note: Amounts listed are enough to make a cast and mold of a leg with excess in case you make a mistake
Supplies to make a Mold of a Leg for the Leg Lamp
Smooth-On Body Double: 7 Pounds (3.5 bottles of A and B)
8" Gypsum Bandages: 5 rolls
4" Gypsum Bandages: 4 rolls
6" Black Stiletto High Heel Shoes (search eBay for your size)
Supplies to make a Cast of the Mold for the Leg Lamp
Smooth-Cast 300: 4 gallons (see instructions for calculating leg volume below)
Color Flesh Tone: 4 oz Total (ordered 2 - 2oz jars)
How to Calculate the Volume of your Leg
This proved quite difficult and interesting. I found a paper from 1969 that shows the mean volume of a leg of a Japanese person to be 10.5. The trouble is that it does not say the units! So, I speculated that this was 10.5 liters. The top end of their calculations was 13.5 (Liters?). So I figured the volume of my leg might be 15 (liters?). If so, according to the Smooth on website calculator (https://www.smooth-on.com/support/calculators/#casting) showing that 1 gallon unit of Smooth-Cast 300 is 15.4 lbs - meaning I would need 4 pounds.
For instructions on calculating the volume of your leg, I've included step by step instructions here.
Supplies to make the Leg Lamp Lampshade
Supplies to Wire and Finish the Leg Lamp
Instructions for How to Make a Leg Lamp from your own Leg
Gather supplies listed above
Put on high heels
Completely cover the leg with release cream
Paint the silicon molding onto the leg. Be sure to completely cover the shoe.
Allow to dry and add another layer. Continue until you have at least 3 layers or once you run out of molding silicon.
Allow to dry.
Cut gypsum bandages into strips 2 foot long (0.6 meters)
Dip the gypsum bandages into a bucket of water
Apply the gypsum bandages in all directions until the silicon mold is completely covered with a few layers.
Allow to dry
Cut the gypsum bandage mold down both sides so it can be removed from the silicon mold and leg.
Carefully remove the mold from the leg (it will remove hair!)
Re-assemble the silicon mold inside the solid gypsum bandage mold. Moisten more strips of gypsum bandage and use them to hold the mold together.
Allow to dry.
Mix the casting solutions according to the instructions and dump them into the mold.
Allow to dry.
Remove the gypsum bandage mold and silicon mold from the cast of the leg.
Drill a hole through the leg so the electrical wire can be run through the leg lamp.
Put the fish net stocking on the leg.
Attach the leg to a solid base (I used a circle of plywood)
Assemble the lamp kit components.
Glue the fringe around the outside of the lamp shade and attach the to the leg lamp.
Enjoy your "Major Prize"!
I learned a lot of interesting facts about the Christmas Story Leg Lamp while researching for this project! One of my favorites from Mental Floss is:
The leg lamp box says "HIS END UP" instead of "THIS END UP". The reason? The box would not fit through the door on the set so the crew quickly cut it down to size which shaved off the "T". You can see that I included this in my leg lamp box on the video.
Keep on Learning!