There are a lot of ways to repurpose old and discarded materials to make new light fixtures for your home. There are also a lot of ways to repurpose old and discarded materials to make new and more energy efficient light fixtures for your home. Here are some of our favorites.
Quick Aside: Before we start getting into the crafting part of this post, let’s take a moment to talk about energy efficiency. Creating new lamps and using different bulbs (more on this later) is only one part of reducing your carbon footprint. Another important part of this is choosing a sustainable energy plan. If you live in a deregulated market, this will likely cost a few extra dollars every month. If you live in an unregulated market, however, like Texas, Illinois, etc. you can shop around for great rates on sustainable power. Many DiY-repurposers have used sites like https://www.texaselectricrates.com/business-rates.html to help them find the best plan in their area.
If you’re not in Texas, you likely have a similar site for your own market. This in addition to incorporating solar power, etc. (we’ll talk about that later too) will help you save money on your utilities, which will give you more funds for repurposed crafting!
Incorporating Solar Power
We just mentioned this so we thought it would be a good place to start. Our favorite, and not just because of the hipster factor, is the mason jar solar light. These lights repurpose the solar panels from broken solar yard lights.
Take the "lid" from the broken solar light and make sure it is free of sharp edges and then glue it to the lid of the mason jar, top-side up (for obvious reasons). Fill the actual mason jar with decorative glass pieces or glass marbles. Screw the lid to the jar. Viola! Done! The cell will charge up in the sun and then at night the light will beam not just out of the lens but into the jar, where it will reflect off of the glass stones or marbles you've put inside. It's a fantastic way to create mood lighting, soft lighting for the outdoors, etc. You probably won't be able to read by it, but it'll be great for ambient light.
On the flip side of this (sorry, not sorry for the pun) is using your old indoor lamps to create new outdoor solar lights. This is a fantastic tutorial on how to take your old floor lamp parts and repurpose them into adorable outdoor solar lamps for your front walk, your yard, wherever!
Super Creative Ways to Make New Lamps
The key to creating a new lamp out of upcycled materials is to keep the wiring as simple as possible. This is why so many repurposers focus on creating simple new shades or painting and recovering bases when trying to reuse materials in creative ways. For example, one very popular DiY lampshade is made from a globe that has been cut in half. Another very popular option using globes is to cut a hole in the bottom of a globe and fitting it over a smaller lamp or lantern base.
One particularly fantastic way to reuse and repurpose old materials into new lamps is to use old light bulbs. Take out the filament and use the glass bulb to build your own oil lamp. Make sure to fix the bulb to a stationary base! Combine bulbs to create an art installation!
Pro Tip: Old light bulbs can also be used as organizers.
Bottles and Bottles and Bottles
By now we are all probably familiar with creating chandeliers using old chandelier framework and using wine bottles or mason jars or other bottles as covers for the bulbs. It helps amplify the bulb’s light and adds a creative touch to the room.
Consider the Light Source
There are dozens of different posts out there that will show you all of the great ways to repurpose household items into beautiful light fixtures and lamps. When you are choosing a project, it is important to take the required bulb into consideration. For example, incandescent lights give off a lot of heat, even when they are a low wattage. This is why they are bad choices for glass housed lamps and light fixtures with paper or cloth based shades.
Our favorite choice for bulbs is the LED. These bulbs can be spendy, but they more than earn their cost over the course of their lifetimes. We like these bulbs because they are currently the most energy efficient on the market. They’re particularly great for craft projects because they don’t give off much heat at all, regardless of their wattage.
So, are you inspired? What kind of lamp are you going to make?