This tutorial is authored by contributor Katie Milton.
It was a special day when my materials from I Like That Lamp arrived in the mail. I was super excited to begin my new lamp project. The first thing I noticed was that the box was quite small!
I tore it open and wondered, “where in the world was the lamp shade?”. After re-reading some old notes I realized that I had been mistaken and that I Like That Lamp offers 2 main DIY projects.
One to make a lamp and one to make a shade. For some reason, I thought they were the same thing! Silly me! And it turns out that their lamp making project is so popular that they’ve broken it down into smaller pieces to allow even more flexibility and creativity!
“Our kit included everything you needed to make a DIY lampshade - including styrene, lampshade rings, glue, binder clips and a moulding stick - all in a single box presentation. But after years of selling everything in a kit format, we realised that pre-packaging all of our supplies really limited some of our customers from making a lampshade with the proportions they wanted. So how did we react to such a huge realization?! Drum roll, please . . .
We deconstructed our kit and now sell each component piece individually, for endless customizing possibilities!
We still offer all of the same lampshade making supplies, but we now sell each piece on its own. So you’re free to mix and match any size and style of lampshade ring, styrene, and add your choice of glue kit to make a completely custom and unique lampshade that you love!” -- I Like That Lamp
I pulled out all the bits and bobs included in my project and quickly realized that I could make a lamp out of anything!
So, my husband and I took to the woods to find the perfect piece of cedar for our new lamp.
Long story short, we didn’t find the perfect piece of cedar but ended up having a nice hike in the Texas Hill Country. And then I went to the craft store to see if they had something that didn’t require me to risk life and limb in an acquisition.
That is when the knitting Gods opened up the heavens and a light shown down on a basket full of antique wool spools.
You see, my mother is a bit of a master knitter and I knew that this would be a perfect Christmas gift for in her wool room. I snatched up the spool without a second of hesitation and rushed home.
The instructions begin by telling you to determine where you’ll place the nipple. Ha ha, nipple. Am I 13?! Moving on….
For me, it was easy to decide because my wool spool had a hole running right down the center.
Next, you connect your washers and other bits and bobs (as per the instructions that are included) to the bottom of the nipple. These helps to secure it to the base of the wool spool lamp.
Since the nipple didn’t have anything to attach it to at the bottom of the lamp, it made that piece a bit wobbly since it was just kind of sitting there.
A modification that I added here, once I was sure I knew where I wanted to place the nipple and had all the pieces in the right places, was to glue the nipple onto my wool spool lamp.
To be fair, this was something I had my husband do in the shop. He used some special glue that I didn’t have in my craft kit and let it dry for about 30 minutes. I’m sure that hot glue from the glue gun would have also worked fine but I think he wanted to contribute.
Please note that the glue was my VERY LAST STEP. I strongly recommend completing the project first and once you’re confident you have everything in its place, then glue the nipple into its permanent position.
You don’t want to do this prematurely and find out that you wired the wrong end or accidentally left out a piece that you can’t put back because everything is glued together.
Next, you pull the wiring through your lamp.
To make my base more secure, hubby-dearest drilled out a small recessed area in the base of the lamp so that it wouldn’t sit cockeyed on the wire. Depending on what you’re using as a base this might be something that you’ll do too.
Once the wiring is through the lamp, pull the two wires apart about 5 inches and make the special little knot (as per the instructions) that will nest into the base of the electrical socket.
Once your knot is secure at the base you’ll want to connect the wires to the “other piece”; it’s a very technical term, I know. And since you’re running out of pieces at this step, the “other piece” should be obvious.
BUT there’s a special caveat in this step: First, you must identify which one of the two wires has the little ridges.
The wire with the little ridges attaches to the silver screw. The one without the ridges attaches to the gold screw. These are very subtle differences, I know, but have everything to do with whether or not your light will work once electricity is running to these wires.
Once you’ve identified the wire with the ridges, wrap it clockwise around the silver screw and use the Phillips screwdriver to tighten everything in place.
Then, do the same with the other wire and attach it to the gold screw.
Tug on the wires and the electrical socket a bit to get everything into place. Then you’ll grab the cardboard sheath and put it over the whole mess.
Once the cardboard is in place, cover with the little metal sheath and force into place on the base.
Voila! Your basic lamp is done!
Well, now is where you add the glue step if your base is a little wobbly.
Then, add your light bulb and lampshade and you’re good to go!
A beautiful DIY lamp!
We sell styrene, lampshade rings, lamp harps and lampshade glue - everything you need to make a custom lampshade.
If you're planning to restore more old items and convert them into beautiful new lamps, read our E-book, Old Lamps, New Life: The DIY Guide to Repurposing and Rewiring Vintage lamps. Part instructional handbook and part DIY project tutorials, it will give you the confidence to identify the various parts of any type of lamp, wire a new lamp in less than ten minutes, and determine which thrift store lamps make the best candidates for makeovers!