“What are those lights called, and how did you make them?!” This is one of the most frequently asked questions that we’ve been getting, about our skypan lights, since revealing our 2016 stage design.

For decades, directors of photography have used skypans for lighting scenery in studios. A few people on our creative team felt skypans would fit our aesthetics nicely, so the search began to find out where we could get them. Rentals were not easy to find and purchasing these new would’ve cost over $1000 each. Working with a leaner budget, we went the creative route and decided to make our own.

Typically, skypans are equipped with 2.5 to 5kW lamps; this would be overkill for how we intended to use them, and would also raise the cost for the socket and lamp. Our next best option? Find a standard screw socket A19 lamp that has the most possible power for an affordable price. The solution? A 250W Halogen lamp that resembles a typical theatrical lamp, but in a safer form. With that done, it was time to figure out what we could use to build these ourselves. Our goal: An exact replica, no! Capturing the concept, YES!

What You Need:

  • a pan
  • a light socket
  • a lamp
  • a cord
  • white spray primer
  • flat white spray paint (somethng of good quality)
  • 2-inch tape (blue painters tape is great)
  • bolts, washers, and nuts (exact sizes listed later, under bolts)
  • something to give it rigidity (1×2 board is perfect)
  • some form of a saw for cutting the wood
  • a drill
  • a 3/8” drill bit
  • a philips screw driver
  • a couple of wrenches, spanners, ratchets – something to tighten the bolts
This is where some exploration of the hardware stores comes into play. You’ll want to check your local stores – be it Home Depot, Lowe’s, Ace, True Value, Menards, Bunnings, or wherever building supplies are found. For time sake, we’re going to hit up a local Home Depot and see what parts we can find.

The main thing we need to grab is a pan – or in our case, a tub, or a bucket for the small version. For the main-stage we used 17-gallon tubs, and for the greenroom we used smaller buckets.

Power Cord
A power cord. The unfinished powertool cord is great and ready to assemble.

Junction Box
A round junction box. Get white, but if you get a raw one, it can always be painted – or just leave it mill finish if you want. For this design, we’re going to have everything white inside the tub.

Lamp Socket
A lamp socket. They make plaster and plastic. In this project we’re going with the plastic.

White Primer
White Primer
White primer. Spray can of 1-2-3. And a good flat white enamel. This one says “professional”, so it’s a better choice than the basic whites. (hint: one can of each will do about 4 tubs)


Bolts: Here’s where you have to consider how you’re going to rig these. Probably best to go with bolts that will be long enough to attach to a variety of rigging types. For our application, we’ll be hanging some and putting others on studio lighting stands. Also going to need some short bolts for attaching the lamp base.
Fender Washers and Nuts: Count your parts! 2 bolts each size, 2 nuts per large bolt, 1 nut per small bolt, 3 fender washers per large bolt, 1 fender washer per small bolt.

Hardware per Fixture:

  • 2 @ 5” x 5/16” Zinc Hex Bolts
  • 2 @ 1” x ¼”” Zinc Hex Bolts
  • 4 @ 5/16” Zinc Fender Washers
  • 2 @ ¼” Zinc Fender Washers
  • 2 @ 5/16” Zinc Hex Nuts
  • 2 @ ¼” Zinc Hex Nuts
  • 2 @ 8-32 x ½” Panhead screws

The Assembly Process:

Turn the tub or bucket upside down, measure the 1×2 board, and cut it to length so it fits within the bottom rim. Align the board so it runs vertically like a spine down the back of your to-be-finished fixture. (In this picture, it is actually turned 90-degrees from how it should be – oops!)

Drill the board and tub/bucket to prepare for the bolts.

This is an example of what you will be using to secure the board to the tub/bucket. Insert the bolt from the inside, with one washer inside, and have the long end of the bolt stick out the back through the board, then secure the back washer with the nut. Tighten enough so it doesn’t spin.

Hey, here we go… this is how it should look after the board is fitted within the bottom rim.

And the inside looks like this.

Determine which end will correspond to where your lamp base will be (top or bottom), and drill another 3/8” hold near the washer. This will be for the power cord to pass through.

In preparing the round junction box, use the included blank caps to close off all holes except for the one in the back. Use a romex clamp in this hole for later securing the power cord. Place the junction box where you want it (about halfway into the tub/bucket), drill for the ¼” bolts, then secure the box in place with the short bolts (put a washer on the outside of the tub/bucket). It doesn’t matter which end sticks through more – the nut can be inside the bucket or outside the bucket – as long as the washer is outside. Use a 3/8” wire protector (the red plastic bit shown here) to protect the cord from getting cut by the metal, and pull through the cord, wires in from the back, into the junction box, and leave enough to connect it to the lamp base. Tighten the wire clamp on the back of the junction box.

Attach the wires to the inside of the lamp socket, then secure the lamp socket to the junction box. Use shorter 10-32 panhead screws to easily attach this.

Mask the inside of the bucket so that the tape is about ¼” into the rim. This will give a nice finished edge and prevent any possible paint from chipping on the rim – because it won’t have paint there! Also stick a piece of tape inside the socket so paint doesn’t get inside.

With the tubs/buckets assembled and rims taped off, find a well-ventilated area and get ready to paint! Read the paint instructions for best results. Apply a decent coat of primer, allow them to dry, then apply a good coat of enamel.

After the tubs/buckets have dried, remove the tape. They are now ready for installation.

BOOM! Just like that, your new skypan light is ready to use.

VOUS Podcast

Just once is never enough! Listen to this week’s message and more by subscribing to the VOUS Church Podcast on iTunes.

Get the Podcast

Heart & Soul

Heart & Soul

What an amazing journey we’ve had so far this year! Join us in April for a midweek gathering as we celebrate the “wins” and look forward to what’s ahead for our church. Everyone is welcome!

Jose De Diego Middle School
3100 NW 5TH AVE
APRIL 20, 7:30PM


Creative Night

Want to be at the forefront of the creative expression of VOUS Church? Or maybe you’re just learning about your gifts and want to find out more. Creative Night is designed for you! We would love to meet you in Wynwood on Wednesday nights at the Miami Rescue Mission. For details about the night’s events, follow us on social media @vouschurch.

VOUS Conference Speakers

VOUS Conference 2016

This summer, VOUS Conference hosts Pastors Rich and DawnChere Wilkerson welcome guest speakers Christine Caine, Robert Madu and Erwin McManus for an epic weekend on South Beach!

June 10 – 11
The Fillmore Theater

Register Today

Subscribe to the VOUS Church Blog

Get VOUS Church blog posts delivered straight to your inbox!