How to make tiny street lights

Drawing is a fun way to explore design, patterns, even other worlds. When I was cut off from all my electronics, tools, and materials, I adopted drawing as my main hobby. I looked for  ways to make it more tactile and toylike, so I started doing cutouts. I constructed a little town, and one thing my town needed was streetlights. Today I’ll be showing you my method for making them.


Tools and Materials:

  • Drawing paper
  • Pens
  • Sharpie marker
  • Scissors
  • Exacto knife
  • Clear tape
  • Wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Thin cardboard
  • Thick cardboard
  • Black Spraypaint
  • Pins
  • Glue


We’ll be starting with the bodies, which will be the bulk of our work. You can make straight normal ones, wobbly weirdo ones, or anything in between. I like my business to be weird, so weird they will be. We’re going to draw them on a piece of paper, keeping them close together so we conserve materials (a good habit to have in general). I draw the lights separate from the posts so everything is easier to cut out, and I have more flexibility during the assembly phase.

Next we will flip the paper over and add the wire backing. This is an important step, because these street lights are long and spindly, and need the extra support. If yours are short and thick enough you may not need the wire, but for this method we are using the wire as a means of securing the post to the base. We will lay the wire across the length of the post,  leaving about half an inch of wire protruding from the bottom so we can affix it to the base later. We want to tape the wire in sections, bending the wire as we go. The design I made has dots in the center, which allows me to find the center of the post more easily, making a more stable fusion.

Once the wire is taped down we can use the butt of a pen to press down on the tape and make minor positioning adjustments. For the top end of the wire, you can snip it with the wire cutters.

Next, we cut out the posts. You can use scissors or an exacto blade. I like both; scissors for long stretches and the exacto for tight curvy spaces.


This is a minor step, but it’s a detail that I notice when I look at the pieces: blackening the edges. You may not think the edge of a piece of paper is substantial, but I find that coloring it black subtly improves the look. Though I have a drawing pen pictured, a sharpie marker works best for this step.

If cutting out the posts has added some curvature to the wires, you can flatten them beneath a heavy book. I chose the excellent Larousse World Mythology, weighty in both content and poundage, and added a weight on top for good measure, making sure to protect the cover with a piece of plastic.


While the posts are flattening, it’s time to make bases. I like thin cardboard, but not too thin. This box of snack bars from costco has the perfect thickness.

I start by cutting out squares.

Then I cut the squares into circles.

To prep the bases for painting, we’ll stick pins through the center. Next we’ll stick them into a thick piece of scrap cardboard. Make sure it’s the center of the base, because that hole is where our wire is eventually going. These bases will be black, and I’m using spray paint, along with clear coat. You can use brushable paint as well.

After your paint and clear coat is applied, leave it in the dying embers of the day’s light. Let it fully cure. Don’t be impatient and get fingerprints on your bases.

When the bases are cured, we’re ready for assembly. Insert the wire through the hole left by the pin…

...then bend it so it hugs the bottom. I then superglue and tape it in place.

I made my bases too small, and the wire made it wobble, so I decided to expand the bases by gluing a larger one on the bottom. After that...we’re done! The street lamps are ready to light your tiny denizens.