advertise on Tiki Central

Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop
  [Edit Profile]  [Edit Preferences]  [Search] [Sign Up]
[Personal Messages]  [Member List]  [Help/FAQ]  [Rules]  [Login]
Tiki Central Forums Creating Tiki Other Crafts Fugu Lamp - Step by Step
Fugu Lamp - Step by Step
Chip and Andy
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jul 13, 2004
Posts: 2277
From: Corner table, Molokai Lounge, Mai-Kai.
Posted: 2009-01-05 04:39 am   Permalink

OK, what is the one lamp that everybody wants for their bar?


A Blowfish Lamp.

OK, where to start......

A Fugu, some key-less sockets, some lamp cord, and some night-light bulbs. You will also need some wire-cutters, scissors and exacto or razor blade. Some jewelers-wire or similar fine gauge wire will help.

OK, first thing to know about working with a dried blowfish....

The spines are sharp. They may not seem it when you first pick it up, but you are going to be handling this guys extensively during the process of making a lamp. Lots of pushing and holding, it takes its toll on yor hands and on the spines of the fish. Gardening gloves are very helpful, or a pot-holder, a heavy cloth works if you haven't anything else.

The second thing to know about working with a dried blowfish....

Get one that is big enough to work with. You are going to be shoving an electrical fixture with a small light bulb into the guy, it can't be too small. Also, get one that is lighter colored in the belly, it makes for a better quality light when done.

And, please, remove the googly-eyes. They are there for the tourists and children.

Now, to business. Lets make a lamp!

First, on the top of your fish there will be a seam. This is where we are going to start.

Grab your socket and lightbulb to see how big a hole you are going to need to make.

A sharp exacto or razor blade and lots of patience. Remember the gloves I mentioned, now is a good time to get them. Start slowly, do not rush it. The skin is thick enough to make it difficult, but not so thick you can be careless. I am going to use my new Dremel tool. Because I can. If you want to use your power-tools, you WILL need a dust mask. This is fish-skin you are cutting through, it is going to smell and make a kind of dust that will stick in your nose for far longer that you are going to be willing to smell fugu-dust.

Your final opening should be just large enough to fit the light into, not much more. Go slowly, you can cut the opening bigger if needed, but you can't glue it back if you go too far.

OK, now the light.

I like the finished lamp cord because it already has the plug installed. You can find it in your local home supply, if you find a swag-lamp kit you can get really long cords.

Take the cord and push through the bottom opening of the socket. You need Key-Less sockets, they are the easiest to work with. And, make sure you get the candelabra set, that is the one with the smaller base for the night lights.

Tie a simple knot in the wires. This is called an Underwriters knot and will keep any stress on the wires from pulling the connections loose. For something this small and light it isn't really necessary, but it is still a good idea.

Wrap the wires clockwise around the screws on the socket. Wrap clockwise so when you tighten the screws it pulls the connection tighter.

Slide the sleeve back over the connections. Electrics are done.

Now, a word about bulbs......

There are these really cool LED bulbs available now and logic would dictate that they are a good choice for a project of this nature. They are very cool operating, very low power, should be great....

Sorry, No. No good for a project of this nature.

They are LED bulbs and the light is very blue and very directional.

They make your Fugu look like something out of Star-Trek and not like something you would find at your local Trader Vic's.

What you need is a standard 7 watt night-light bulbs. Frosted white is best, but the clear is good too. The light value is near perfect inside the Fugu, and at only 7 watts it will be cool enough that temperature is not an issue..

Remember the fine-gauge wire I mentioned. Go get it. You need to take a length about three times the width of your opening. I find it easiest to heat one end of the wire and poke it through just outside of the opening. Repeat on the other side. The wire should not be tight, you should be able to push it aside just enough to get the light through the opening. The Fugu will 'hang' on this bit of wire, it will wedge the light inside so it can't come back out of the opening. You can do the same thing with a bit of string, may I recommend you use dental floss, it will last a bit longer and the waxed kind is a bit easier to handle. Remember, the Fugu is only a couple of ounces so you don't need much to hold it together.

Now, you should have a spiffy new Fugu Lamp to hang in your bar or lounge.

More pictures


If you make one, please share your pictures and any tips-and-tricks you have.

 View Profile of Chip and Andy Send a personal message to Chip and Andy  Email Chip and Andy Goto the website of Chip and Andy     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 27, 2005
Posts: 650
From: Amesbury, Mass
Posted: 2009-01-05 05:26 am   Permalink

Hey C & A. Great step by step post, but I have to say - I would love to see it be taken a step further. I have made a few of these lamps for my personal use. My problem has always been securing the fixture inside the fish, especially in the larger varieties. My 12 inch lamp is equipped with a conventional lite socket with 40 watt lamp. I have attempted to form a clamp/bracket out of a heavy gauge semi flexible wire. A gauge that allows bending but stays firmly in place and form. The problem is getting the socket to SAFELY stay inside the opening that has to be cut large enough to accomodate a conventional size light bulb.

I started with an approximate 18" piece of wire, working from the middle of the wire, attempted to wrap the socket base tightly once around it. It's not easy to make it tight with the heavy gauge wire, but able to tighten it enough to catch the ridge on the base of the socket.

I bring the two long ends of the wire to opposite sides of the socket and bend them to create a sort of a figure 8 looking assembly.

I then bend the heavy gauge loops down towards the light bulb. The difficulty is in inserting the wire/bulb/socket assembly into the nearly 2 1/2" opening in the fish. Holding the wires tight to the bulb with both hands - I work the socket into the opening. Once past the opening with the assembly - simply let it go and the heavy gauge wire slightly opens back up. The fish body/shade then rests on the wire assembly. BUT not very securely. I am not happy with this arrangement, and am sure it would not be UL rated for safety.

Anyone have a method for fabricating a safe and secureable collar, that will firmly hold the socket and bulb to the fish?

one of my lamps!

[ This Message was edited by: jpmartdog 2009-01-05 05:37 ]

View Profile of jpmartdog Send a personal message to jpmartdog  Email jpmartdog Goto the website of jpmartdog     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Mar 18, 2004
Posts: 1032
From: Tolland, CT
Posted: 2009-01-05 05:54 am   Permalink

I like the googly eyes.

Then again, I am a tourist....and a child.

Nice work.

The problem I ran into making mine is that they were FULL of cotton. It took hours of work to pull it out using forceps through a small hole cut in the back, and through his mouth. So, if you buy one locally, or off ebay, make sure they are EMPTY!!! lol

As far as the light attaching, and easy solution for a low wattage bulb is one of the Dept 56 Christmas Houses lights.

You can get em for about $4, and those little black "wings" on the side hold the fixture in place in your fish. If you're gonna go this route, buy the fixture first, so you dont make the hole too big!

And post your results!!!

Happy building!

View Profile of Bargoyle Send a personal message to Bargoyle  Email Bargoyle     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Nov 12, 2002
Posts: 7917
From: Huntikington Beach
Posted: 2009-01-05 09:21 am   Permalink

The small ones bite worse than the large ones!

These make life easy for holes...

These work for hanging. Also wood slats work too. Don't forget to

knot your lamp cord around your bracket so there is no tension

on the wire connection. UL safety.

I'm retiring from these lil' suckers for a while.

3 for Tonga Lei in Malibu

41 for the new Luau in Bev Hills

and 12 for Frankie's Tiki Room in Las Vegas.

( all within 6 months)

No matter how much protection you use, you Will get bit!


Bamboo Ben
Tiki Bars I've designed/built. TikiCat, Royal Hawaiian, Kona Club, Frankie's Tiki Room, Pacific Seas, Don the Beachcomber,Forbidden Island, Kon Tiki Tucson, Tiki No,etc....

View Profile of RevBambooBen Send a personal message to RevBambooBen  Email RevBambooBen Goto the website of RevBambooBen     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 14, 2002
Posts: 1290
From: Bangkok
Posted: 2009-01-05 11:55 am   Permalink

Or you could go Vegan and build your own Puffer Fish..


 View Profile of atomictonytiki Send a personal message to atomictonytiki  Goto the website of atomictonytiki     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Grand Member (8 years)  

Joined: Mar 30, 2008
Posts: 9019
From: The Anvil of the Sun
Posted: 2009-01-05 2:59 pm   Permalink

Thank you AtomicTonyTiki, I was just wondering about building one of these (did you do the little pufferfish Christmas ornament?) My tiki space is outside, it only rains a couple of times a year but I'm thinking a real dried fish might "reconstitute" in the rain Maybe I could cover a fish-shaped wire frame with resin coated fabric.

View Profile of MadDogMike Send a personal message to MadDogMike  Goto the website of MadDogMike     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote
Tiki Socialite

Joined: May 14, 2002
Posts: 1290
From: Bangkok
Posted: 2009-01-05 5:10 pm   Permalink

unfortunately i didn't make the Xmas ornament and i figure my wire, tissue paper and glue lamp might be destroyed faster than the real thing, but have you seen the cool lampshades made from cable ties and mesh..

...a possible start to an all weather puffer fish?

View Profile of atomictonytiki Send a personal message to atomictonytiki  Goto the website of atomictonytiki     Edit/Delete This Post Reply with quote

[ About Tiki Central | Contact Tiki Central | Advertise on Tiki Central ]
(c) 2000-2018 Tikiroom.com (tm), Tiki Central (tm)

Credits & copyright infomation