Turn empty bottles into lights
After an evening of entertaining and before the empty wine bottles are put out for recycling, consider this daring reuse option: Make a light fixture from one or two of those bottles.
Yep, I’ve got one in my house, and it looks fabulous. And it was a whole lot cheaper than the versions I’ve seen online for as much as $200 for a single pendant and $800 for a larger fixture.
And why stop with wine bottles? How about antique milk bottles, beer bottles or canning jars?
I’m going to explain three options — a simple table light, a hanging light that plugs in and a pendant light fixture. You can choose one that’s right for you or figure out a variation on this theme. If you want more inspiration, do a Google search for “bottle” and “light fixture.”
Whatever option you choose, be very careful when working with electricity. Be sure to turn the power off before you do any work, and make sure there are no loose or bare wires.
Project difficulty: Difficult
BEGIN each project by preparing the bottle or bottles:
1. Clean and remove labels.
2. Cut bottoms from the bottles, using a wet tile cutter. You can ask a friendly tile setter to do this for you (that’s what I did), rent one ($28 for four hours at Home Depot) or buy one ($250 to $400). If you’re doing it yourself, be sure to read instructions for the cutter and wear safety goggles. The cutter is easy to use, but practice with some spare tiles and extra bottles until you’re confident you’ll get what you want.
3. Using a hand sander with 100-grit paper, sand the bottom edge of each bottle. When the roughest edges are gone, change to 220-grit paper and sand until smooth to the touch. Wipe clean.
4. Spray the exterior of each bottle with Krylon Frosted Glass Finish in a ventilated area. Let dry.
Now you’re ready to put your light together.
SUPER-EASY TABLE LIGHT
Put a cut bottle over a battery-operated votive candle. This is perfect for an outdoor setting and avoids the hazard of burning candles.
This option requires a swag lamp kit, which you can get at any hardware or craft store ($9.99 at World Market). Thread the plug through the bottom of the wine bottle and out the bottle’s neck. Or, if the plug won’t fit, cut it off and replace it with a residential polar plug (available at hardware stores for about $2).
1. Screw a bulb into the socket and pull the cord through the bottle’s neck as far as it can go.
2. Follow the kit’s directions for inserting the hook into the ceiling where you want the lamp to hang. It’s best if the light hangs in a corner where you can camouflage the wire that reaches to the plug. You’ll also want easy access to the cord’s switch for turning the light off and on.
3. Plug it in.
CEILING-MOUNTED PENDANT LIGHT
This option requires that you know how to do elementary wiring. Turn off the power before you begin.
1. You’ll be replacing a ceiling fixture with a light canopy (from $10 to $20 at Lowe’s). Begin by removing the existing light fixture’s shade, bulb and canopy. Disconnect the wires from the ceiling box.
2. Free the wires of the new fixture from the canopy and thread them through the bottom of the wine bottle and out the bottle’s neck. Thread the wires through the bottom of the canopy. Attach the wires to the ceiling box using wire nuts, as shown in the illustration. Slide the canopy to the ceiling and secure to mounting bracket.
3. Put a bulb into the socket, turn the power back on and test the light.