So if you haven’t noticed lately, I’m all about the re-purposing lately. I love it! I’ve got another repurposed glass bottle project to show you today, and I’m going to show you how easy it is to cut a hole in a glass bottle with a Dremel rotary tool so that you can wire it to become a lamp! Don’t worry – this project is actually easier than it sounds. Wiring a lamp is one of the simplest electrical projects you can tackle (after changing a battery, of course), and using a Dremel rotary tool for glass cutting just takes a steady hand and a little patience – the tool will do ALL the work for you.
So I have long been using a Dremel rotary tool for small projects. I mainly used it for sanding, but it does a lot more than that. My old one has a cord on it, so I was thrilled to upgrade to the Micro 8050, which is a 5-speed cordless model with some awesome new features. The Micro 8050 can cut, carve, engrave, sand, grind, sharpen, clean and polish, and it’s fully compatible with all Dremel rotary tool accessories. And my favorite feature is the LED front-end light! I’ll show you below just how great it is, and on top of that it’s got an easy-to-hold soft grip handle and a nice docking station, so it’s perfect for the craft room.
It works beautifully for carving and etching glass. You’ll need a special diamond-tip bit (I picked up the 7150, which isn’t in the standard accessory pack but it should be easy to find anywhere Dremel accessories are sold). Here’s what you will need to convert an old bottle into a lamp:
- The Dremel Micro 8050 and diamond-tipped bit I mentioned
- An old, recycled, or thrifted glass bottle
- A lamp adapter kit with a bottle adapter (or if you can’t find one with an adapter, a cork from the hardware store that fits the mouth of your bottle)
- Something to fill your bottle with (I chose glitter, but liquid silver or gold leaf would be gorgeous! You can also use beads, beans, marbles, silk flowers… you name it.)
- Coordinating lamp shade
- Optional: a bit of air-dry clay to fully close your hole (not necessary if you’re filling it with something bigger, like beans, but for glitter it’s a good idea!)
- Scrap of vinyl or painter’s tape and a 1/4″ hole punch to use as a carving guide
Load your Dremel tool with the diamond-tipped bit. This is as simple as loosening and tightening the collet (the “neck” that holds your bit in place). Punch a 1/4″ hole in your vinyl scrap (or painter’s tape) and verify that the cord from your kit will fit through the hole – because glass doesn’t stretch, of course! If not, increase the size of your guide hole as necessary.
Apply your vinyl to the bottom of your bottle, wherever you choose for the back of the lamp to be. Add a few drops of water to the circle – the vinyl (or tape) will help it kind of “pool” instead of just dripping away. The water is to help keep the glass and the bit from overheating while you work. You will rinse your hole often and make sure you continue to add water as you work.
This doesn’t photograph well, but the light on the Dremel is fantastic for lighting your work area. So well, of course, that it just looks like a big bright spot in the pictures, but in-person, it’s seriously the smartest innovation I could want.
What you need to do is etch along the edge of the circle. DO NOT press down too hard, the tool will do the work for you just by keeping a steady hand. For your initial pass to score the circle, you will want to take great care to trace the line as closely as you can. Once you etch the circle, subsequent passes will have a sort of “path” to travel along, and you won’t need to trace so precisely. What you will notice is that the water pooled in the hole becomes white or cloudy as you carve deeper into the glass. You can rinse this away to see better, and you want to add water if it evaporates. Keeping the tool and the glass cool is what will help you carve the line you want (rather than crack the glass or burn your bit). I had no issues with overheating just by working slowly and patiently. This hole took me about 10 minutes to carve out. Try to carve as evenly as possible as you can around the hole, because at some point, one spot will make its way through the glass. Having just a thin layer to go the rest of the way will help prevent excess chipping.
It’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it?
Now, I opted to fill my bottle with glitter after having seen a cool tutorial over at Artsy-Fartsy Mama on how to add glitter to the inside of glass. It’s a technique I was dying to try! As it turned out, I think it may have been a little too much sparkle for my tastes, but it’s still a really fun effect if you love that sort of thing – you’ll just need some floor wax (yes really!) and some extra-fine glitter. If I were to re-do this lamp, I’d probably use liquid silver leaf for an all-over silver shine. Especially on the inside of a colored glass bottle. (Yes, I’m plotting my next one already, LOL.)
If you are using something to coat the bottle, like glitter or paint, it’s important to note – cover the hole before working with some tape! And, complete this step and allow it to dry before wiring the bottle. If you’re going to fill your lamp with something dry (beans, pennies, what have you) then you will wire the bottle before adding your filler.
Now – to wire it! I can guarantee I’m going to call ALL these parts by the wrong names. (I assume if you know the correct names for these parts, then you don’t need my tutorial anyway – lamps are easy.) You will have 4 basic parts – the white piece is the bottle stopper. If it’s too small for the mouth of your bottle, you can pick up a cork from the hardware store that will fit and you can use that, instead! It screws onto a small pipe that your wire will feed through.
You also have the cap that will rest on your bottle, the lower part of the socket, and the switch portion which is the part we connect the wires to. Assemble the cork, the cap, and the lower part of the socket together. This just leaves the switch yet to be assembled.
Now, feed your wires through the back of your lamp at the bottom, and up through the neck of your bottle. Pull it out a couple inches farther than you need, so you have room to work. Feed the wires up through the bottom part of your lamp assembly.
If you are planning to fill your lamp with something dry, now is the time to do it. When it’s full, push the cork into the bottle neck to close off the bottle.
Next, loosen the switch portion from its sleeve, which will expose a pair of screws. Wrap one wire around each screw and tighten it down securely. You don’t want those wires going anywhere. You can remove a little of the plastic coating from the wire if necessary to ensure you get a secure connection to those screws.
Now, slide the sleeve back onto the switch, covering the screws (you may nice a cardboard layer – that’s an insulating layer so be sure you don’t remove it) and fit the switch portion into the bottom of the assembly. Your kit may have a set screw to secure these together – if it does, go ahead and tighten it.
Pull gently on the cord coming out the back of the lamp to remove any extra slack. It doesn’t have to be tight, but you don’t need the wire bunched up inside the lamp, either.
Now… it’s the moment of truth! Plug in your lamp and test it. There should be light! (Go, you!)
Now if you used something messy (like glitter), chances are you will NOT want it coming out that hole in the back. So I sealed up the hole with a tiny piece of air-dry clay. If your filler is too big for the hole, this step isn’t necessary.
And that’s all it takes to turn a bottle into a lamp!! Isn’t that amazing? Illuminating? Brilliant? And speaking of brilliant – Dremel wants to celebrate its fans’ brilliant projects, work and ideas! Now through October 12, share, tweet or post photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that depict your brilliant ideas using the hashtag#MyBrilliantIdeaSweeps for the chance to win weekly prizes, including free tools and handmade gifts, or the grand prize: a custom-engraved Honda scooter and a Micro 8050. Visit www.facebook.com/dremel for rules and to learn more.
I hope you love this project, and it inspires you to incorporate some power tools into your craft routine!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.