mason-jarIf you’re looking to have your very own one of a kind handmade lamp, or perhaps you have a friend or family member in mind as a recipient for a special occasion, look no further! The art of upcycling jars and bottles to make some really striking working lamps is still going strong and now you probably want to get some idea of how they are put together.

You are going to need: A “make-your-own lamp” kit that will consist of wiring, a filament, and a rubber-like gripper thing that connects the jar lid to the other components. You will also need a Mason jar, try to go with a large one if at all possible-and you can also find nice wine or spirit bottles for this purpose as well. For extra panache, you can leave the label on the bottle, and using shellac or Mod Podge can preserve it neatly. A harp and finial-these parts secure to the filament part and the finial holds the lampshade in place. A desired lampshade-it s size should kind of dovetail nicely with the proportion of the jar or bottle.

Some people may let the wiring part just stay at the top near the lid of the jar, but others may prefer to have the cord interwoven through-in that case, you’ll have to do the legwork of drilling a hole in the bottom for the cord to thread out of. This is not your standard drill bit, by the way. It’s a spade-shaped bit and the package should indicate “for glass”. I have left this step up to the professionals. If you undertake it yourself, do go SLOWLY. The resulting hole should be close to the bottom (about a half-inch so you don’t get too close to the bottom) and about the size of a dime. You may also want to gently sand that area because it may be kind of sharp.

You will need to assemble the lamp kit components according to the directions on the package now. Be sure you thread the electric cord through so that the plug is outside the dime-shaped hole. Tip-Use a plastic drinking straw (the way I did) to encase the part of the cord that will rest inside the jar/bottle. I doubt any of the objects I put in there would conduct electricity, but I like the neater, concealed look. Your lamp components are going to be intertwined with the lid of the jar if done correctly. It should just unscrew on and off fairly easily. When you have this part complete get a standard light bulb and make certain it works. I’ve found that you can use the newer energy-saving model as well with this kit.

The fun part will be filling up your lamp, if you have chosen a Mason jar. If you are going with a bottle you may be limited to smaller, fine particle items like acrylic stone d├ęcor (such as that used for floral arrangements) as you will be hard pressed to fit anything through that narrow neck. With a wide mouth jar the sky is the limit. Seashells, sand, Legos, colorful spools of thread, candy, toys… You should see my own lamp: it is filled to the brim with every little miniature vintage toy or trinket I ever owned! I treasure my lamp to this day; because it contains personal mementos of the past. You should have an inch of space at the top between your trinkets and the lid. Now screw it on tightly; lastly you will need to attach your lampshade and the finial. Plain lampshades complement your jar art well; try to choose a smaller size lampshade that really sets your lamp off when it is switched on.

If you really want to take the shortcut in some of this there may be “fill a jar lamp” kits for sale on e-commerce websites; however in my experience, finding one of those empty lamps that all you have to do is just open and fill, is not easy. I have seen a few but they will cost you much more than a simple lamp kit and a Mason jar is easier to find in your stash somewhere, or you might want to check with local flea markets or thrift stores. Remember, the process is always about having fun making your lamp before you plug it in and see it light up your room!

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