Our neighbours were having a spring clean in their shed, or what actually used to be the old outdoor loo! Among the cobwebs and plant pots were some beautiful old bottles, demijohn’s and vases which they wanted to turn into lamps.
This grey vase caught my eye and I thought I’d show you how easy it is to turn your old treasures into lamps. The same principle for turning this ceramic vase into a lamp can be applied to making a lamp from an old glass bottle or a demijohn.
Anything you have made from glass, ceramic, porcelain or glazed pottery that has a hole in the top large enough for a lamp holder fitting can be turned into a lamp.
Here's my before and after. Scroll down below to find out how easy it was to make:
So how do we get from empty vessel to lamp.....
What You Will Need:
- An empty wine bottle or old vase (also good to use: demijohn, gin bottle, ceramic bed warmer)
- 1 x 8mm Bottle Neck Diamond Core Drill (if using a Dremel type hobby drill) or an 8mm Diamond Core drill (if using a standard household drill)
Note: An 8mm diameter drill bit will accommodate the most popular lamp leads and will leave a small gap either side
- Rotary drill * (ideally with a variable speed)
Note: I used a Dremel 3000 with a Multi Chuck attachment and an 8mm Bottle Neck Diamond Core Drill. You can use a regular household drill, if you use this type of drill you will need to use a standard 8mm diamond core drill
- Diamond file to clean the hole and edges (this is optional but if you are drilling through glass the diamond file will remove any sharp edges)
Note: I used a Half Round Medium 600 grit (#) diamond file (MDF600HR)
- A Marker pen such as a Sharpie
- A bowl filled with water and a cloth or sponge
- Apron, or an old top, and safety googles
- B22 lamp holder with fitted plug and in line switched cable, or a bottle lamp holder adaptor with plug
- Felt protector pads to put on the bottom of the bottle or vase (optional)
Step 1. Setting Up
1. With a marker pen draw a cross on your bottle or vase where you will make the hole for your lamp cable.
2. Most white cables are a standard size of 7.5mm but have a double check by measuring your cable to find out the diameter (I did this using a par of digital calipers but you can use a ruler)
3. To your drill, attach the 8mm diamond core drill (if using a household drill) or an 8mm bottle neck diamond core drill if using a Dremel type drill.
Note: I'm using a Dremel 3000 with a Multi Chuck attachment. You can use a regular household drill, and if so you will need to use a standard 8mm diamond core drill.
Helpful Note: Ideally you want a drill with a variable speed so you can run the drill slowly. (at a slow speed you will preserve the life of your diamond core drill by preventing it from overheating. This will also prevent the ceramic forte vase or the glass of the bottle from cracking)
4. Have a bowl of water to hand with a sponge or cloth nearby.
5. Dampen the area to drill of the vase or bottle with water. Keep the bowl of water and a sponge nearby so you can keep applying water whilst drilling. This helps to keep the drill bit cool and prevents overheating. If the drill bit overheats the diamond grit will burn off, wear out too quickly or crack your glass.
6. Safety Googles on.
Step 2. Drilling with the 8mm Diamond Core Drill
1. Start your drill on it's slowest speed setting (ideally 5,000 RPM)
2. Angle your drill at about 45 degrees and take the drill to your vase or bottle and make an initial cut.
3. As soon as this cut has been made, slowly move your drill into a vertical position and continue to drill, always on the slowest speed setting and with very little pressure. Let the drill do the work.
Helpful note: By drilling at an angle to make the initial cut this helps to prevent the drill bit from sliding and skittering across the surface.
3. As you drill, occasionally move the drill bit up and down to let in some water. This will help the water flow in and around your stone and wash out any debris. This will also help to keep the drill bit and your stone cool. Overheating can cause the diamonds to dull or come off the drill bit and the stone to crack.
Step 3. Finishing
1. Using a diamond file, smooth the edges of the hole you have drilled. Insert your lead, lamp fittings and shade and stick on felt protector pads if you wish.
2. Et Voila! You now have a homemade bottle lamp.
Note: I used a 600 grit medium half round diamond file. This step is optional and will be needed more if you are drilling glass to remove any sharp edges.
Step 4. Further Ideas
Perhaps you want to cut the top off the glass bottle, take a look at our article 'How to Cut a Glass Bottle'
If you want to cut the top off a ceramic vase you would need to use a Diamond Slitting Disc
Take a look at the artist interview we had with Lighthows to see how they insert fairy lights to their old glass bottles.
See some examples of what to do with recycled glass bottles.
If you've tried this at home using our tutorial, or if you have any further helpful tips, send in your thoughts comments and images, we'd love to hear from you.