Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Love Lamp: Booze-Jug Edition (with tutorial)

This story begins in 2008 when I was first moving to Claremont. My sister and I made a trip to Ikea to furnish my new "grad student" bedroom and I fell in love with this lamp.
I know, now, you've seen it in the home of every woman within a 50 mile radius of an Ikea, but back in summer of 2008, this lamp was game changer. I put off buying it because "I didn't have space," but by December, when I moved again and was still lusting after it, I brought it home. Because it doesn't give off a whole lot of light, and it takes sort of a long time to "warm up" the florescent bulb, it has been out in the living room acting as a end table lamp for years. But now, with enough space for a nightstand on either side of the bed, it wound up on the chest of drawers standing in as a nightstand in my room.

During my hours of surfing the web for home decor tips, I read that if your nightstands don't match, it's best to get matching lamps, or lamps with the same "feel" for both tables. Fair enough. Granted, both of my lamps came from Ikea, but the other side was sporting this miserable, poorly balanced black number that I have tipped over every single night for the last 5 years. I hate this lamp.
Back at Ikea working on another project, I started scoping out a lamp with a similar "feel" to the white flowery globe and I stumbled across this lovely creature. This $50 lovely creature. Blast. But, I won't be deterred by a high price tag. Nope, not this girl. I said those words that get me in trouble time and time again: I could make that.
I contrived a plan that I was certain would get me close. Buy a jug of wine, turn it into a lamp. How hard could it be?

Now I knew from many years of drinking cheap wine in college that gallon jugs come in 2 shapes, and I had my heart set on the shapely orb of the Livingston bottle. But of course, after 5 stores including Vons, BevMo and TotalWine, I admitted defeat and just bought a bottle of Carlo Rossi for $10.
Next, I had to try to hoist a gallon of cheap wine onto unsuspecting friends. This proved to be challenging. After a week I poured out the wine (you'll see where this ends up, soon...), removed the label, and set to work.

Although there are, again, lots of tutorials online, I didn't immediately find a great one, so I'm doing my own. Do know that these directions will work for just about any booze-jug or booze-bottle if you aren't digging my Carlo Rossi lamp. In fact, it would work for jugs/bottles that don't hold booze, too, but where is the fun in that?

For this project you will need:

- a jug or bottle (empty and clean)
- a 3/8" drill
- a tungsten carbide bit set for your drill
- a "make a lamp kit" ($12)
- art hanging putty (depending)
- protective eyewear (big sunglasses will do in a pinch)

Step 1: Drill a hole in your jug
You may have read other blogs about how to make a lamp out of a wine bottle and noticed that they all use the "lamp making kit" from the hardware store, which offers the option of running the lamp cord out the side of the hardware, like this:
That's lame. You know that's lame. A lamp should have a cord running through it and out the bottom. Yes, this means that there has to be a hole in the bottom of the bottle. Why were all of these ladies wimping out? I mean, really, how hard is it to drill hole in glass?

Okay, actually pretty hard. First, I tried using a diamond bit for my Demel tool that I use for etching to no avail. Then, I tried a regular ordinary drill bit in my drill. Also, not successful. So, I broke down and bought this set of special glass and ceramic drill bits ($8 at harbor freight). Probably the best part of this experience was the the lady at the checkout counter said, "There's going to be a restocking fee when you return these," as she put them in my bag. Thanks lady, have a little faith.

Anywho, back at home I loaded up my drill with the bit.
A tutorial I found online suggested using putty to make a little "moat wall" around the spot you will be drilling.
Apparently, drilling through glass requires water, and the moat will allow you to keep the hole wet without leaving the thing under running water.
I found this step to be entirely unnecessary for this project. Once I had the right drill bit, drilling this hole took all of about 20 seconds, and I don't mind running the water for that long.

So now you've got a jug with a little hole in the bottom. It's all very simple from here.
Step 2: Lace the cord (in your lamp kit) through the hole and fish it out the mouth of the jug. 
Step 3: Assemble the base parts
Okay, lamp wiring instructions that come with the lamp kit are jargon-y. Jargon, they tell me at school, doesn't do much good for communicating to lay people. So, as a lay person in the world of lamp wiring, I will attempt a jargon free tutorial from here on out. Don't like it, go find a different tutorial.

Select the "adaptor" (white plastic plug) that best fits into the mouth of your bottle. If you're using a wine jug, its going to be the big one.

Thread the little round metal tube into the white plastic plug so it's just about the in the center. Thread the little nut onto the "bottom" (part that will be inside the lamp) of the tube as well to hold it in place.
Lace the lamp wire through this hole. Place the adaptor into the mouth of the jug. If the adaptor doesn't fit snugly inside the mouth of the jug, wrap it with putty and wedge it in there as best you can. Remove any extra putty from the top. Secure the fancy metal cap over the top of all this to hide the ugly plug.
Again, lacing the lamp wire through the center hole, screw the bottom part of the lamp hardware onto the metal tube (it should be sticking up about 1/4 inch). There is a little screw on the side of this, tighten it until the "base" part you just attached can't spin or move much.
Step 4: Connect the wires
Separate the top 3 inches of the lamp wire and tie it in a fancy "underwriter's knot." I think I would have called it a "drunk bunny" knot, but that's just me. There are lots of instructions for how to tie this knot online, but I have confidence in your ability to figure it out.
Take the top part of the lamp assembly-- that is the part that lightbulb will obviously go into--- and lift the "insulated case" up from it to expose the screws at the bottom of it. There should be two little screws, on opposite sides of the bottom of this piece: one silver and one gold. Loosen (mostly unscrew) both of these.
Inspect the two sides of the cord. One should have a "rib" to it-- that is, little ridges in it. Stop giggling, it's not that funny. This is the "neutral" side of the cord. Bend the stripped part of the wire at the top down into a clockwise hook. Hook this over the silver screw. Tighten the screw down so the wire is trapped between the screw and the assembly.
Bend down the stripped part of the non-ribbed wire into a clockwise hook. Attach it to the gold screw in the same manner.

Step 5: Shove it all together
Pull the insulated casing back down over all of this to hide the screws and wires. Snap the part you just wired down onto the base piece until you hear it "snap" into place. It takes more force than you expect. Now, you should be able to put in a light bulb and test the lamp (cross your fingers).
I bought a lampshade that fits down under the bulb, so I didn't need a big "shade attachment," but if you have a old-school lampshade (read, lampshade not from Ikea) do take note that this will need to be attached earlier in the process.
Now you may remember all the way back to the beginning of this post when I admitted that this whole thing started so that I could match the "feel" of the white globe table lamp. So, my original intent was to either try that neat "paint the inside of the glass" technique that is so popular with mason jars right now, or test out the "frosted glass" spray paint products on the market. But then I put it on my nightstand. And now I'm sort of it in love with it just the way it is.
I am still considering trying to "frost" the bottle to make it match the other lamp better. I tried to visualize what it would look like if I did this by putting a bottle of icy vodka out of the freezer in front of it. Having a bottle of vodka on my nightstand made me very uncomfortable, so the jury is still out on the frosting. I might just make a second lamp.

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