How to Make a Lamp
All the instructions and sources for how to make a lamp are simplified at the end of this post if you want to skip to it, but I’ll go through step by step first with more details.
So, like I mentioned yesterday, I made a lamp. Never thought those words would come out of my mouth (nor did you, I’m sure HAHAH!) but sometimes you do things because you know exactly what you want and you can’t find it anywhere. And when you do find something similar, it costs a million dollars. And you don’t have a million dollars. Or you have to wait weeks to order something and you want it RIGHT NOW. I’m SO impatient. Usually I can compromise and find something else that would work, but this time, I knew what I wanted and I wasn’t going to settle.
I wanted a BIG GLASS LAMP, and I found just what I was looking for at a local flea market. I found a big beautiful blue glass water jug! (Find similar glass water jugs here!), or a pre-made similar blue glass lamp HERE.
Basically you could make an lamp from just about anything. That’s great news for those of us who love unique lamps and lighting with character but don’t always like the price tags. I also love BIG lamps (well, and tiny ones) but they are not that easy to find at an affordable price.
My lamp is obviously the size of a water jug. Have you ever noticed when you take pictures of things in your house that accessories and items often appear smaller than they really are? Or sometimes they appear larger, it all depends.
But in real life, the scale of this lamp was a big deal to me because of the high ceilings in the entry. I didn’t want a tiny lamp on this table. I like big lamps, I cannot lie. In fact, truth be told, I’d rather have a few bolder accessories than a thousand little things teetering on a table or mantel. But that’s just me. Less is more.
Because my lamp started out its life as a glass water jug, notice how the words are upside down since they are designed to be used with the spout down. That is part of the character of the lamp, right? Right.
This lamp was VERY easy to make. So easy in fact I wondered why I had never tried to make a lamp before and my wheels started spinning with all sorts of DIY lamp ideas. I didn’t really find a tutorial I used for this I just made it up myself according to what I thought would work with this jug, although I know many people have made bottle lamps and might have their own way of doing it.
And of course, every jar or vessel you use for a lamp will be different so you will have to assess your own particular container to decide what would work best.
I will give a disclaimer — I’m not a skilled DIY’er nor am I an electrician. Anything I say should be confirmed with professionals as I am not responsible for any DIY mishaps you might have in attempting this at home. Proceed at your own risk.
If you look at a lamp you already have, basically all a lamp is the container, a socket and a cord. Sometimes there are stems or lampshades too. “I should be able to handle that,” I thought to myself! So armed with my vast un-tested knowledge of lamp making, I headed off to find a socket and a cord that would work for this jug!
There are actual lamp kits (like THIS) that come with corks to hold the socket in place specifically for making a lamp from a bottle, or you can buy a set that has the cord and socket attached and ready to go (easy peasy), or you can do what I did which was to buy individual lamp sockets and lamp cords. The reason I went with the individual pieces was because I wanted a clear cord. And, I didn’t need the cork because the spout on the bottle and the socket were so close in size and I wasn’t going to use any stem or harp that needed stabilization.
Because I’m not an electrician and have no qualifications, I won’t tell you exactly how to attach the wires from the cord to the socket in case my misinformation causes you permanent injury or death. Nobody’s got time for that.
You can google it or better yet, ask someone at the hardware store or an electrician. My husband happened to know how, so we did it ourselves. It was easy and no one died. High fives all around for that.
Once the socket and cord were connected, I just stuck the socket into the spout of the jug, with the cord sticking out and put a little hot glue around the metal to adhere it to the glass. Easy peasy. Maybe there is a better adhesive so you can research that, but the hot glue gun worked fine for me. So far, so good!
If you want the cord to go inside the glass, you would need a special drill bit to cut glass so the cord would go out the side near the bottom or even through the bottom if you wanted to cut the bottom out. But in this case, I didn’t care that it was outside the jug. Because the cord is clear and the lamp is against a wall, it isn’t that conspicuous from most angles.
If you are looking at the lamp from the side, this is what you would see (photo above and below). If that would bug you, you might want to try cutting the glass and making the cord go inside and out the bottom. But either way, with glass, you see a cord or stem or something in the glass.
I actually thought seeing the cord dangle out the back like this would bother me but it really doesn’t at all since it is a clear cord. I guess I don’t really look at it from the side anyway, and it is a glass water jug lamp so it just adds to the funky unexpected nature of the lamp. No biggie to me.
For my lamp shade, since I didn’t use a harp to attach it, I found that the ring style lampshades they sell at Target worked great. You can see what it looks like from under the shade, it just sets right down over the spout of the jug. You could use a little sticky tack if it wobbles or if you use a different sized jug you may need a washer or may need to use a harp (think that through before you start, because I think you’ll want to put the cord through the harp before you attach it to the socket.).
PHEW. So many words for such an easy DIY. But for those of you (like my husband) that say “Just simplify this for me, get to the point — what do I need to know?” haha, I will simplify it into easy bite-sized steps…
To recap HOW TO MAKE A LAMP (modify as needed for your vessel):
1. PIN the above photo from this post so you can refer to it later and help spread the news that The Inspired Room MADE A LAMP! That is kind of a big deal. Heheh.
2. Find a glass water jug. I got mine at a flea market.
3. Buy the lamp socket and cord at a hardware store or reuse one you already have.
4. If your cord is not attached to the socket, attach the wires (consult an electrician if you do not know how to do this).
5. Set socket in spout of jug, pull cord to the side to it comes out of the spout.
6. Use a hot glue gun or other adhesive to stabilize the socket in the jug.
7. Set a wire ring style lampshade on the socket.
8. Plug it in and pat yourself on the back because you made yourself a cool LAMP!
If you make one, let me know! We can have a lamp party! Are you in?
You can find similar glass jugs or pre-made glass jar lamps HERE.
Update in 2021:
Looking for a similar blue glass lamp that you don’t have to DIY? Here is one that I have and LOVE!
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Pssssssst…I got on a roll and made ANOTHER lamp! I made it out of a cool antique barrel. Click here to see it!
Find more details on the thrift store vignette with the lamp, painting and dresser!