Candles in lamps

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Creative DIY ideas

10 tips how you can upcycle your lamps

Switching to LEDs? Then you might find yourself with a lot of old lamps lying around the house. To avoid waste and add personalized features to your home, office, celebrations and parties, we’ve selected some of our favorites ideas to revamp old lamps from DIY blogs and forums. Feeling creative? Then keep reading!

Before you start: Most of these designs require you to first empty and clean your old lamps. Doing this involves a few steps, as well as care and attention to avoid breaking the glass. To be on the safe side, always wear gloves and safety glasses.

Here’s what to do. First, you need to remove the electric foot contact (the small metal area) at the end of the lamp. This can be done with pliers or tweezers. Next, break the glass (normally black) that you find in the neck of the lamp. Here you can use a screwdriver or pliers. Shake all the broken glass onto a piece of paper that can later be discarded. Once you have removed the dark glass, you’ll be able to see the support that holds the wire and filament in place inside the lamp. Pull this out with tweezers and shake out any remaining pieces.

Once the lamp is completely empty, you can simply clean it with water (and a toothbrush if necessary). You are now ready to start the transformation.

Our top ideas…

1. Homemade oil lamps

We love this idea: a clever way to maintain the original purpose of the lamp, but go back in time to a world without electricity.

To make your oil lamp, you will need oil (even olive oil works), a wick (try shoes laces or string) and a small metal washer. Take your pre-prepared old lamp and glue the washer to the bottom of it. This will enable the lamp to stand. Once the lamp is stable, pour the oil into the lamp until it is about two thirds full. Next add your wick. Thread it through the neck until it is immersed in the oil. To hold the thread in place at the top of the lamp, you can use a small piece of tin, for example from a drinks can or a bottle lid, and cut a small “x” in it to thread your wick through. Once the wick is completely soaked in oil (this can take a few hours), you can light it. Remember to always keep an eye on open flames. Store in a safe place and wait for the next power cut. Read more here.

2. Place card holders

This is a great way to decorate tables at weddings or dinner parties, and let people know which is their seat.

In order to make the place holders, you will need pre-prepared lamps, self-adhesive silicone bumpers (or something similar to hold the lamps in place), cardboard, thin metal wire and material to decorate the inside of the lamps. Which materials you choose is up to you – Tillandsia plants are commonly suggested online.

Once you have chosen your decoration, it needs to be carefully fed through the neck of the lamp. Next, add the bumpers to the bottom of the lamp to stop it rolling on the table. Then complete your place cards – remembering to leave space to punch a hole. Finally, take the wire and thread it through the hole in the card and around the cap of the lamp. You’re done! It’s time to set the table. Check out the results here.

3. Hanging vases

Create a modern feel with these minimalist glass holders for flowers and plants.

Making these vases is very simple: take your pre-prepared lamp and tie string tightly around the neck, creating a loop in the other end of the string to hook onto something. Then fill the lamp with water, add a few individual flowers and hang. Note: a group of several hanging vases can be used to decorate a larger space. Standing varieties can also be made. Learn more.

Lamp as vase

Other exciting ideas…

4. Twine pears

Add a rustic look to your home with this DIY centerpiece. Simple to assemble, all you need is natural-looking string, glue and some time. This step by step guide talks your through it.

5. Candle holders

Instead of using old wine bottles, why not use old lamps to support your candles? By painting your lamps and adding weight and support to ensure they stand up, you can simply add a candle of the correct width. Get inspired here.

6. Salt and pepper pots

Brighten up any meal with these DIY spice shakers. The main job here is to create the lids for sprinkling the salt, pepper, etc. Many people use old plastic bottle lids. Find out how here.

7. Wall hooks

This one is a bit more technical and involves concrete, but is still doable. Working against time as the concrete sets, you can add it to the pre-prepared lamps, making sure they are completely and evenly filled. Whilst the concrete is still soft, add a large screw to the neck end, making sure enough is sticking out to screw into a wall later. Then it’s just a waiting game. Once completely set, you can carefully break the glass surrounding the concrete and you’ll have a lamp-shaped hook. Remember: always wear safety goggles and gloves when working with glass. Find all the details here.

8. Planters

Watch the roots of your plants growing through glass, in this science-project-like idea. Old lamps can provide the perfect viewing window – although of course eventually, your plants might run out of space. See this idea in action.

9. Candy holders

Decorate and fill old lamps with sweets to provide a gift alternative to a box of chocolates. Get some ideas here.

10. Christmas ornaments

From snowmen to penguins, you’d be surprised how versatile a lamp can be. What do you need? Paint, glue, glitter and a splash of imagination. You also can’t go wrong with a smiley face! Find some inspiration here.

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