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How To Make An Upcycled Bottle Lamp

Looking for recycled interior design ideas? Well here’s a sneak-peek of a beautiful upcycled bottle lamp Nikki recently made, and a step-by-step walkthrough of the process:

“In my former life I was a professional photographer. I started many years ago before the advent of digital photography, and as a result have boxes of old negatives sitting on shelves, taking up space and gathering dust. So I decided it was high time to do something with them.

Why I Chose To Use Negatives For The Upcycled Bottle Lamp

“I did not want to throw the negatives away for several reasons:

  • I had spent such a large part of my life working on those photographic projects. Many an hour was spent sourcing, organizing, and completing the photo stories, and in the darkroom processing the results.
  • There were so many memories on those little bits of transparent plastic, which I thought could tell a memorable story via another medium.
  • Furthermore, I did not want the negatives to end up in a landfill, adding to the perpetual problem of environmental waste…
Film negatives for making the lamp shade | Reclaim Design

“And so, I put my out of the box design thinking cap on and came up with the idea of making a recycled lamp shade from them, since we also had a recycled gin bottle that would be perfect as the stand for our upcycled bottle lamp.

“We had been given some very smart gin bottles to recycle, which we first cleaned up for the purpose. The labels and glue had to be removed, as did the metal screw-on cap attachments.

Making The Recycled Lamp Shade

“Then I played around with different ideas for our recycled lamp shade, and settled on a circular option as it seemed like the best idea for what I wanted to achieve with the negatives.

“The next step involved sowing together the negatives with a cross-stitch using a strong wax-covered thread which is mostly used to sew leather. Needless to say, this was a trial and error process, as all of the best processes are! My sewing skills are somewhat limited, so (sew? ;)) it was a learning curve for me…

“It was a bit tricky holding the negatives together during this process, so I used some small craft pegs which helped a lot to keep the shape of the reycled lamp shade as I was working.

“I found some flexible, but sturdy clear plastic at a craft shop to serve as a backer for the negatives to help hold the circular shape and prevent them denting inward.

Components needed for making our upcycled bottle lamp | Reclaim Design

Welding And Drilling

“Next I found a local welder, and explained what I wanted to achieve. I’d got some measurements for the circles needed by laying out my sewn negatives and taking a tape measure to them. That was also a learning curve for him, and the end result was 2 circles supported by 4 uprights with a spacer attached to the bottom circle to which the light fitting would be attached.

“I asked Michael to drill a hole into the base of the bottle through which we would pass the electrical cable for the light fitting. That particular process involved carefully (and slowly) drilling with a specialist glass bit and adding judicious amounts of oil to avoid over-heating to leave a clean hole without cracking the bottle.

The Final Steps

“The final step in the process was to head down to our local lighting shop and buy the necessary cabling and fittings. We needed to buy a plug, 2 metres of 6mm cabling to fit the hole Michael had drilled, and the light fitting. There was no specific fitting that worked, so we bought one of a size that was closest to the diameter of the bottle neck and I spent a while shaving it down to fit.

“I asked Michael to do the necessary where the wiring up was concerned. Several expletives later he had completed the job, and our recycled gin bottle lamp with recycled photographic negative lamp shade was born!”

The finished upcycled bottle lamp | Reclaim Design

More Recycled Interior Design Ideas

If you are interested in buying Nikki’s stunning upcycled lamp with a story, please get in touch. And if you’d like to see more of our creations to inspire more recycled interior design ideas for your home, take a look at our ever-expanding eco-friendly product range.

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