How to Make a Lamp from a Vase

I have a tough time finding lamps I like, and when I do, they tend to be $300. It’s hard enough to contemplate spending $300 on one lamp, but I needed two. Combined, that’s the cost of a plane ticket to Belize, and as much as I appreciate beautiful light fixtures, I would rather go to Belize.

So, I made lamps.

It was actually surprisingly easy. Now I say that as woman who doesn’t own a drill and, therefore, spent more time photographing the making of the lamp than I actually did participating in the creation of it. Perhaps I’ll ask for a drill as a birthday gift this year. In the meantime, I enlisted the help of my dad, who does own a drill and uses it quite frequently.

I found the vases for my lamps in the clearance section of Target a couple months back. They had the general shape I wanted, and at only $10 apiece, it wouldn’t be a huge loss if they shattered as we attempted to drill holes in them.

You can get "Create a Lamp" kits at any hardware or lighting store. They come with a cork-like plug, so they're probably meant to turn jugs or wine bottles into lamps. I just flipped my vases over to build my lamps—which meant I didn’t have to worry about plugs or any other kind of base—but did have to drill two holes: one on the top for the light fixture and one in the back for the cord/plug.

To ensure the vase didn’t shatter when we my dad drilled into it, I taped the inside and the outside of the vase in both spots where we were drilling.

My dad used a standard mortar bit and had no problems. A few pieces of varnish flaked off the inside, but otherwise the holes are clean.

From there, it was simply a matter of following the instructions on the kits.

I could regale you with a step-by-step analysis of how to build the lamp, but listed step by step, the process actually sounds kind of intimidating. Trust me, it’s not. 

There were only 3-4 steps, and they were all fairly easy. You thread the wire through the hole in the back and then add the pipe and all of the base pieces to the top. Thread the wire through those so it pokes out through the middle, split the top of the wire and then follow the instructions on the kit to connect each half of the wire to the appropriate screws on the light-up-thingy (actual technical term: socket interior). Add the socket cover and harp, if applicable, and you’re good to go.

I do have one recommendation though that’s not included in the kit’s instructions: put a rubber washer between the metal washers and the ceramic or glass. That extra layer between the metal washer and the ceramic will help prevent cracks from developing in the future.


The hardest part of this process was actually finding a lampshade. I bought (and returned) six different lampshades before finally settling on a standard drum shade. I like them, but I’m still contemplating jazzing them up with black trim or paint. Any suggestions?

Now that I’m aware of my lamp-making options, I find so many things you could easily turn into lamps. A recent trip to West Elm alone uncovered four different lamp options (this one, this one, this one or, for a fabulous mid-century vibe, this one.)

Sorry $300 lamps. With options like these, you will not be in my future.

So what do you think of my new lamps? Do you have any suggestions for my lampshades? Am I the only one who would prioritize a trip to Central America over great lamps?

Oh, and by the way, the cost of each lamp came to about $39.50 apiece: $10 per vase, $11 per lamp kit, $15 each for the lampshades and 10% sales tax. If you got lucky, you may find a pair at HomeGoods for that price, but I never got that lucky. I don’t mind though. I like knowing that my lamps are unique to me.


Terrah said...

Hi Kim,

I know this is an old post but I found it page one on Google (Yeah you!) when researching the topic. As for my suggestion on what to do with the lampshade? Decoupage! Or at least, cover it with nice fabric, gold foil, anything that might work then adhere with good ole'fashioned Modge Podge. Might I suggest the site Modge Podge Rocks? Google it, she's got TONS of instructions and I'm pretty certain she covered lampshades.

Kim @ Home Love and Wanderlust said...

I've never heard of it, but I'll check it out. I've seen so many creative things done with Modge Podge. I think I'm a little late to the party!