Lamp-Making is Fun Do-it-Yourself Project
How about a lamp made from cowboy boots or a Chinese vase?
It's easy to make a decorative lamp from almost anything. In the fictional
family from the comedy film A Christmas Story, Dad wins a contest and the
mysterious prize arrives in the mail. Eagerly tearing the wrapping off his
precious package, Dad reveals his tacky prize--a bare mannequin leg in
fishnet stocking rigged as a table lamp. Mom, of course, screams in horror.
The moral of the story? If you're going to create a lamp from some unusual
object, try to stay within the bounds of good taste.
Fortunately, the options for making a lamp include more tasteful things, and
you don't need much money or any sophisticated tools to create a lamp from
your favorite object. You do need to follow instructions from your
lamp-making kit and pay attention to safely wiring your lamp, just as with
any electrical appliance. But the possibilities are limited only by your
imagination and what you can find in your attic or the local garage sale.
Imagine these funky or festive lamps adorning your home, all have been made
into lamps according to author Deborah Morgenthal: bird cages, sports
trophies, flower pots, an old clarinet, champagne bottles, Chinese vases,
cowboy boots, and elk antlers.
You'll need the following basic tools to build your lamp: pliers, hammer,
screwdriver and drill, and possibly a saw. Hardware and craft stores carry
lamp-making kits or the essential components are available separately, i.e.,
rods, wires, sockets and plugs. If you can't find what you need in the local
store, look for mail order catalogs and suppliers on the Internet. Remember
that you're working with electricity and that means danger of electrical
shocks and even fire if you don't wire your lamp properly. Wear protective
eyeglasses and gloves. Put everything together carefully to keep your
project from backfiring and spitting sparks. For example, lamp cord has two
wires, a "hot" wire and a ground wire. Make sure you connect the right wire
to the right post on your lamp fixture. The smooth side of the cord houses
the hot wire. Connect that to the copper or brass post. The grooved side is
the ground. That connects to the silver post.
Another common mistake is to use a bulb that is too high in wattage for the
fixture. Too much wattage caused bulbs to burn out prematurely or can ruin
the socket. Use the appropriate-size bulb for your lamp kit. Also, don't
assume that the lamp you bought at the garage sale is in perfect condition.
Take it apart, check the wiring and connections and replace, if necessary.
Look for old wires that are deteriorating or unsafe splices that could cause
shorts or electrical shocks.
Sources used to create this article include Dru Wilson, Knight Ridder News
Service and the Lexington Herald Leader.