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How to Make an Eco-Friendly Table Lamp

I was inspired by the attractive shape of the plastic milk bottles (with wide opening) we’re throwing away every day. They look like a small amphora and I was banging my head what to make from them.

By coincidence (maybe not), while I was out shopping, I literally stumbled upon a shop that was selling lamp shades in various colours at very affordable price…
So, I put 2 and 2 together… and on the following photos you can see the whole procedure how to make the lamp body.

As this specific bottle has a very narrow bottom, it needs enhancement for better stability. For this, I used a plastic cap from an ice-cream container.

The next step is to attach the plastic cap with silicon (or some other strong glue) to the bottom of the bottle and make a hole for electric cable with a hot tool/nail whose diameter fits the cable’s diameter. After that, it is ready to be coated with paper-mache clay*.

Then, I plaster paper-mache clay onto the entire surface of the bottle and let it dry completely for a few days, maybe even an entire week. Drying time varies and depends on weather, humidity, season… But, this step is the most important so you don’t risk molding or paint peeling after it’s done. In my eagerness to finish it as quickly as possible, I’ve made that mistake a few times in the beginning. When the clay is completely dry there comes the hardest part: sanding, sanding and … more sanding if I want the surface to be smooth. When I’m done with that, I apply one or two coats of homemade gesso**. When it’s dry, I paint and decorate the lamp to my liking – usually with decoupage, pieces of old lace, dried leaves, plastering various motives made with cookie-cutter or anything else I can think of. Just unleash your imagination.

The shades are ready-made. I buy them in bargain/dollar stores and then paint and decorate them to match the lamp base or leave them as they are.

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A solution that took a while to figure out how to put it all together

How to assemble the electrical parts is explained and illustrated in detail in the pdf E-booklet,  which, besides the instructions on this page, contains that part too. You can buy the booklet from my Etsy shop clicking on the second image in the sidebar.

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It’s also possible to make a vase or any kind of holder, in a way similar to the one I make lamp body, which is, of course, a lot much easier. I cut the upper portion of a chosen bottle at the desired size. The cut hasn’t necessarily to be even. On the contrary, a winding line is more appealing and when the vase is done, the flowers can be better arranged in it.

Then, I plaster the paper-mache clay all around the outside, over the rim and about 2-3 cm (one inch) inside to cover the plastic. I let it dry completely, paint it and decorate it in the same manner as lamps…or I just give full rein to my imagination, playing with half-dry clay making shapes and imprints with cookie cutter or gluing small, tiny pebbles on its surface…

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*The best recipe for paper-mache clay I found is at Jonni Good’s site: www.ultimatepapermache.com.

But, I’m still experimenting with my own and instead of toilet paper: I add the same amount of a pulp I made of either egg-boxes or towel- and toilet-paper rolls, as I endevour to use as strictly as possible waste materials.

** Gesso:

I mix a 1/2 cup of talc (baby-powder), 1-2 table spoons of white PVA or carpenter glue, 1-2 table spoons white acrylic paint and dilute it with some amount of water until I get desired consistency – well… not too thick, nor too thin :). When you apply it, it should stay on; i.e. shouldn’t drip.