30+ Creative Ideas Using Vintage Glass Insulators

Vintage Glass insulators were first produced in the 1850s for telegraph lines, then for telephone and power transmission lines. They insulated and protected the wooden poles from the electricity coursing through the wires. They are made from glass, porcelain or composite polymer materials (nonconductive materials). That was the insulator’s main purpose. Hemingray, Brookfield, and Whitall Tatum are some of the companies who made them. Glass insulators are perfect for upcycling projects, and with their industrial style, they are an excellent material for lights, candle holders, planter or other decorations. Their gorgeous colors and decorative edging, as well as the manufacturer's markings, were works of art when aesthetics were important along with functionality. Here are some of the 30 best ideas we've found and that are made from old glass insulators.

Glass Insulator Candleholder & Tea Light

Upcycle a glass insulator as well as an old mattress spring. The spring fits quite nicely around the tapered top edge and creates a wide, stable base. Add some decorative ribbon or thread, and you've got a gorgeous upcycled candle holder. A rusty bed spring and a vintage aqua glass insulator make a cute little votive holder.

Can you picture these adorable lanterns lighting up your next outdoor party? Just add long twists of wire to create handles and hang them from the nearest nail or branch!

Who would've thought an industrial product that isn't needed anymore could become an elegant centerpiece or mantle piece?

Combine two upcycled items to create a shabby-chic candle holder!

Old wood, including driftwood, vintage barn wood, and other wood that has a lot of character like old beetle holes, termite tunnels, etc., can add a LOT of interest to these rustic candle holders. If you're worried about live critters, you can heat-treat the wood in the oven - just find YouTube videos on how to remove pine beetles from wood in the oven.

Turn upcycled old horseshoes and vintage insulators into this unique, stable, and stylish centerpiece for your table or to adorn a mantle. Beautifully rustic!

Make Vintage Glass Insulators into various Pendant Lamps and Chandeliers!

Who would've thought that thick, sturdy glass insulators could become part of this delicate, airy chandelier that could be used indoors or outdoors! It is a beautiful way to create unique artwork for your home.

Upcycle an old skeleton key and scrap wire into this curly-footed little candle holder that would add a touch of rustic elegance to any room!

The Definitive Guide to Colorful Insulators (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
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The Definitive Guide to Colorful Insulators (Schiffer Book for Collectors)
  • Michael Bruner
  • Publisher: Schiffer Publishing
  • Hardcover: 222 pages

Glass Insulator Light

Industrial, steampunk, or just flat cool! That's what this pipe-fitting and insulator lamp is. Wouldn't this be gorgeous as a set for your pallet headboard?

Add Edison-style bulbs or the latest LED bulbs to create really beautiful pendant Glass Insulator lamps!

Make a strong statement with this industrial bedside lamp made from pipes and a vintage glass insulator.

A dual-lamp bedside or desk lamp from insulators and pipes. Industrial strength and vintage beauty combined to make eye-catching lighting!

The best of upcycling! Use an old lamp base and add a glass insulator as the lampshade for a unique little lamp. This would even make a great nightlight for a kid's room without looking like a "baby's room" nightlight so your kids feel grown up!

Gorgeous pendant lamps made from different colors of glass insulators.

Here's a clever way to use a glass insulator: turn it into the lamp BASE! Add a copper lamp shade and you've got something amazing for any room of the house. Could you see these hanging over a pool table?

Old-school or modern industrial style - it's up to you when you use Vintage Glass Insulators in your lamps!

A modern industrial lamp - again using the insulator as the base, but a shiny lamp shade makes it look very modern.

A back-to-back Hemingway Glass lamp could rival any beautiful Victorian style lamp!

A cute idea for a winter centerpiece. You could add battery-powered led lamps underneath or use a string of holiday lights. Use twinkling ones of multi-colored lights for more fun.

A wicked-cool steampunk-style bicycle parts lamp! This uses a bicycle rack and other fun upcycled parts to create this beautiful Glass Insulator Desk Lamp.

A pretty pair of lamps suitable for your desk, bedside table, or a living area made from high power insulators & railway screws.

Glass Insulator Planter & Vase

You don't always have to make lamps. How about this delicate-looking little vintage glass vase made from an upside-down insulator and an old bed spring or twisted wire? Too cute!

Wouldn't this be an amazing wedding decoration? They're too pretty to give as party favors, though. :)

Another adorable little shabby-chic planter or vase using twine or sisal rope and an old insulator.

This idea for cute little succulent planters would be great for indoor or outdoor living areas!

More great succulent planters using insulators.

More Creative Ideas Using Vintage Glass Insulators!

Why not make a classic paperweight, but add some personal touches with some simple wire twists and create a photo display as well?

Make these glass insulators into really fun and functional salt and pepper shakers!

Turn glass insulators into a shabby chic glass insulator coat rack!

Look at this amazing holiday tree using glass insulators and a lamp pole! Brilliant and so unique! Plus, it is reusable, and a heck of a lot easier to put up each year!

Use glass insulators as bookends! <3 You could even use a pair of glass insulator as book holders, simple!

Price Guide for Insulators: A History and Guide to North American Glass Pintype Insulators
11 Reviews
Price Guide for Insulators: A History and Guide to North American Glass Pintype Insulators
  • John McDougald, Carol McDougald
  • Publisher: Tan Books
  • Spiral-bound: 264 pages

Here are a few extra ideas for using Vintage Glass Insulators.

And here is a tutorial on how to make your light from an old Vintage Glass insulator and most important how to drill a hole in the glass.

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Bio: Co-founder of Recyclart. Working hard also to bring the spicy touch to Recyclart.... read more

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Amanda Hammond

Tracy Hicks

Kelly Arthur Montgomery

Good, I need ideas, I have a ton of these things.


Using pipes that thread together and a lamp kit with cord and light bulb attachment you then drill a hole or have a hole drilled into the top of the insulators to use as an lamp shade…. It makes a great desk lamp or night light

You also could make a wood base install bulb and plug and place the insulator on top opening side down. No need for a hole to be drilled.

Or simply flip it upside down find a base to hold it and use it for a candle holder


I love these! Where in the heck can you find glass insulators?

Erica S.
Erica S.

You can find the upcycled insulator lights here:

We have lots of upcycled insulator products.


I have MANY clear ones in perfect condition. Would like to sell them. Contact me.


Check antique stores. You should pay no more that $8.00 unless they are a very unusual color.

Robin Bridges
Robin Bridges

I love these!Fortunately, those of a green and creative mind have a wide range of options available to them when they begin to map their strategy to install recycled insulation materials or some other form of eco-friendly insulation.

Robin Bridges
Robin Bridges

Probably the easiest way to recycle glass insulators is to simply place them on top of leaflets, magazines, or other documents that you keep on your desk, coffee table, or office cubicle. Not only do they do the job, but you may just get somebody to point at your glass paperweight and inquire, “What is that?” Needless to say, glass insulators can sometimes make interesting conversation pieces!

Kimberly( except on Mondays)
Kimberly( except on Mondays)

I have tons of creative ideas that I’d like to collaborate with someone else on. I’m in a new town & can’t find anyone to bounce this stuff off of much less, people who love to create. Feels like I stepped into the movie “Ground Hog Day”. Every day it’s the same old sh-t. This must be one of the most uninspired towns on the planet! Anyway, There is a flea market nearby where I can find these. It would be inspiring though to work with someone else who is like minded. Just putting it out there ;)


What town do you live in !? There must be someone that is interested in the same things as you !

Tina Robison
Tina Robison

do you have the link for the tutorial at the end? I’m not seeing it. Thanks.


What are you using to drill the insulators?

Carson Drayson
Carson Drayson

where is the link to drill the insulators pls???


How are attaching the insulator to the the pipe?

Susan Nolen
Susan Nolen

I have several old insulators, and have used some for candle holders, but these ideas are awesome.

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