Rock What Ya Got: Upcycled Copper Wire Pendant Lights (from ugly lampshades!)

When I got home from Home Depot a few days ago,  Court was cleaning out the garage.  I am obviously a hoarder of amazing things that look like garbage.  He doesnt have the vision and frequently throws away treasures.  You can image what this does to me.

I flew out of my car and was like “What are you throwing away?!  I need it alllllllllllll!! (and possibly an intervention) Court held up a few ugly lampshades that would not work for anyone. ever. to try and prove the point that not everything is worth saving.

Unfortunately for him my best ideas are spontaneous.  Bring it. Oh it has been brought-en.

I LOVE a good lamp.  The subsequent reality of the situation is that I have about a million ugly lampshades.  Every time I look at them I die a little inside.  I know they could be something amazing, so I hang onto them, but lets be honest, they are not shooting to the top of anyone’s must do list.

Simple DIY Copper Wire Pendant Lights vintagerevivals

That is, until today.

All you need to make these eye popping lights, is an ugly lampshade with a wire frame inside and a few simple supplies.  (I posted a picture of the shade on the right on Instagram yesterday and it became immediately clear how much better filters make everything look.  It didn’t look half bad, but IRL it is granny…and not in a cool hipster way.  In a mother-of-the-bride dress sheathing kind of way.)  Sorry to fool you guys with my mad filtering skillz.

Ugly Lampshade Upcycle Ideas vintagerevivals

 

Lets get started!

Cut off all of the fabric and pull off all of the glued on bits until you are left with this:

How to make a Skeleton (wire) Lampshade

 

Its is the skeleton of the lampshade!  Get it?  Skeleton shade?!

I gave my lamp bones a coat of Krylon Copper Spray Paint.

Copper Wire Lampshade

 

Then I used some lamp wire I had from another project and wired a basic socket on the inside of the lampshade. To do this you will need:

Supplies for a hanging light fixture

(1) Pull String Light Socket ($3.49) at Home Depot

(1) 1/2” threaded nipple

(1) Washer

(1) Hex Nut

The desired length of Lamp Wire.

* If you are spray painting your socket do it before you move on to the next step!

Start by threading on your cord the hex nut and the washer.  Feed the cord through the top of the lampshade.

Wiring a Hanging Lampshade vintagerevivals.com

 

Then thread your cord through the nipple and the base of your socket.

How To Build A Hanging Lamp

 

This next step is super important so pay attention!  The weight of the skeleton shade is going to be on the socket.  Normally you would buy a special tension socket for this, but because our shades are so light we are going to use  everyone’s favorite DIY Fix All…Hot Glue!

Tie a knot in your wire and fill it nice and full with hot glue.  I like to pull the wire up while I am doing this to make sure that it is inside the nipple too.  This is going to take the pressure off of the actual wiring and move it to the entire socket.  Also please make sure that you leave enough cord that you can still wire your socket!

Wiring a light socket for a hanging lamp

 

Once it is wired push the 2 pieces together REALLY hard.  You will hear a soft pop when it is connected.

Copper Light Socket

 

Then just stick the nipple into the top of the shade and attach the hex nut.

How To Hang a Lampshade From the Ceiling vintagerevivals

 

That’s it.  Not even 10 minutes later we have these fun and unique light fixtures.

Hanging Wire Lampshade Tutorial vintagerevivals.com

 

And you can get as creative as you want.  I had a lot of extra cord so I tied it up and let the socket hang on this light.  It breaks up the monotony a little.

Upcycle Lighting Projects vintagerevivals.com

Copper Lighting Ideas

Upcycled Lampshades into a Simple Hanging Light Fixture vintagerevivals.com

Upcycled Lampshades into a Wire Light Fixture vintagerevivals.com

 (Tutorial for the leather pillow here)  (Need another simple lampshade update?  Click here)

I win.  Sorry Court.

UPDATE!  The light bulbs that I used can be found at Home Depot and Lowes.  They are not going to be available once the supplies sell out (because the US is no longer producing or importing filament bulbs) So get them while you can!

I have also had a few questions about where they plug in.  I pulled the cords out of the picture, but they run down the wall and plug in behind the couch.  They look really cute like that (because of the sweet cords).

Now to the fun part that involves YOU!  Whenever I bring a new treasure home Court just looks at me and says “Where are you going to put that?”  And then I happily float into the garage and add it to the treasures that are taking up my half.  (Ok it is more like two thirds.  But who is measuring?)

The problem in this situation is that I have treasures that I have long forgotten about.  And who can forget the ever present “But I cant get rid of that, I might use it!” excuse?

So here is what we are going to do.  It is a fun thing I like to call MOTIVATION!  Once a month we are going to have a Rock What Ya Got party.  You can play along on Vintage Revivals by linking up a blog post,  or on instagram using the #rockwhatyagotparty hashtag.

Here is the other deal.  This link up is for new projects only.  I get it,  you are excited about that dresser that you painted last June and still want everyone to see it.  But this is not that.  We are doing NEW projects.  New.  Like sparkly newborn baby new.  Yes?  The whole point is to do something new.  How about if I throw one more NEW in there for effect?  New.

So here are a few things you need to know about our fun new club:

The Rock What Ya Got party will be opening the 3rd Monday of every month and will be open for one week.

Feel free to link up any type of project, as long as it is using something that you already had at home.  (You can obviously buy a few supplies to work your magic)  The project has to be (say it with me!) NEW!

I will be sharing some of my favorites every month on my social media channels and in the Vintage Revivals newsletter!

If you have any fun fight for the garbage stories, I want to hear all about them!!

Love Your Guts

86 Comments

Comments

  1. Selma harris says:

    Good morning Mandi. I first want to say Happy New Year to you and your lovely family. I REALLY LOVE your Blog!! Thanks for this post….it really has my mind swirling to try this with our bedroom lamps. The shades right now are black and does not give a great deal of light in the room. Also thanks for the rock what you got monthly projects…this is getting the fire turned up in me to get some things done around here! i will hopefully participate.

  2. Okay! NEW! Thanks for the motivation :)

  3. Ooo, these are so pretty! And they look really beautiful over that little nook with your fiddle leaf fig.

    I’ve got a great trash hoarding story. When my boyfriend and I first moved in together, he had a hideous, ancient, threadbare couch, the poufy overstuffed kind. I went on a mission to replace it with an inexpensive craigslist find. First I discovered a gorgeous Hollywood Regency setee, with a cream wood frame and red velvet upholstery. We dragged it home, stuck it in the unused dining room, and realized that it was too uncomfortable to use as an everyday couch. Then I found an amazing green vinyl couch with a wooden frame, carved feet, curvy back, the works. It was in horrible condition, but I thought “I can reupholster that!” Into the dining room it went. So then we had THREE couches. But this was before I really started with DIY, and the truth is I had no energy or money to reupholster it. And my poor boyfriend had to lift all these couches in and out of the house while I kept trying new ones on like shoes. Our friends thought I was nuts (and they were right).

  4. Love it. I have one sitting around that I stripped apart and painted and waiting to do something with it. Thank you for the inspiration!

  5. I love the lamps, you are awesome! Your husband and my husband have the same problem!! I will have to remember this, it is good motivation to use what I have that has gotten lost in my many hoard stashing places! I really should take pictures before they get buried so deep! Hugs!

  6. I love this! I’m really digging the exposed wire look recently, and have been wanting to incorporate more industrial-looking touches into my home. I am always terrified of doing anything electrical though, and although my boyfriend’s dad and brother are electricians, he does not have the talent (or education) for the work and they live far away. Boo! I’m sure these would look cute witting on top of a nice lamp base too though!

  7. Love this but just curious…is this a great staged pic or is this a functional project? If it’s functional, can you post a pic of the cords coming down to the outlet? That is always my downfall with corded light projects. It’s so hard to make the cords not look super obvious & ugly as they trail across the ceiling then down the wall to the outlet.

    • I was wondering the same thing. I’d like to see a full scale shot because I’m really interested in doing this with some already create skeleton lamp shades, but can never figure out how to make it functional.

      • Such a good question ladies! I pulled them to the side for the shoot, but just hanging down is awesome when you have a cute cord.

        xo
        m

  8. I love this!!! Will really help with future projects of mine. Now maybe I have been MIA and you have already divulged about this but ummmm where is your lovely orange couch!!?? That couch allowed me to affirm that before I die I must own a hunter green sofa and a royal blue velvet sofa (not at the same time of course)

  9. That is adorable and you are a genius.

  10. Shut. Up. I am so jealous of your creative genius of a mind!! Never in a million years would I have thought to do something like this to an old lamp shade. There are no words, I’m in complete awe!

  11. Love this! Now where could I put this in my home…

  12. Amanda Fry says:

    You definitely brought it and nailed it!!!! Where do you find those interesting lightbulbs you used?

  13. I love your skeleton lamps!! The copper color, tied cords plus your signature cool bulbs make these something I would actually do in my own house…skeleton lamps I’ve seen in the past look like actual pieces of garbage hanging from the ceiling -or at least they would in my house.
    I am so excited for the rock what ya got party! My husband will be thrilled that you are inspiring me to use some of my hoard :)

  14. Love this! :)

  15. Our fairly spacious two car garage can only fit one due to the overflowing workbench and copious amounts of projects in various stages of doneness. Oh. And the crazy amounts of “I might need that” piles. So who’s car wins? My husbands of course! And that’s not awesome in a state like Wisconsin where we just experienced -25 temps WITHOUT windchill (-45 with windchill) and about 60 inches of show each winter… Ouch.
    Also, where did you get that awesome cord?? And the light bulbs???

  16. very cute! BUT…you might want to warn people that the cute bulbs like you have here are no longer allowed to be produced in the US, or imported for that matter. Pretty much any filament bulbs. As of January 1st. Home depot and other stores have stockpiled some, but eventually they are going to run out and then we will be stuck with CFLs and LEDs. *sigh*

  17. I love these. There is going to be a run on ugly lampshades at all the thrift stores. LOL.

  18. Great idea! I love the “Rock What Ya Got” linky party. For anyone who crafts/DIY’s, this is such a vital part of keeping the creativity flowing! I look forward to seeing what everyone shares!.

  19. Freaking BRILLIANT. As usual…. Can I have your brain for just an HOUR, please??

  20. absolutely perfect! genius actually! they look sooooo good in copper too :)

  21. darling! love that copper paint. way to save those from the trash!

  22. So cool! I can’t wait for your new series…and now I have an excuse to go get more stuff! :P

  23. How creative! Those lamps look great and I love the new Monday link up series!

  24. Thanks for the inspiration to take something trash to treasure! Can you tell me the source for the white pot that your fiddle leaf fig is in? It’s gorgeous!

  25. I’m sorry this is kind of on a different subject, but I can’t seem to find the 1/8 in. copper pipes you used on your wreath. I ordered some from Amazon, and they sent me an email stating it was out of stock, and they had no access to more. Have you found this item anywhere else? It seems like everywhere else is a lot more expensive. Thanks! And I love the lamp shades! :)

    • Hey Heather! I am assuming you are talking about the brass pipes I used on the hanging planter? I updated the post with a new link. That seller was so lame!

      xo
      m

      • Oh yay, you’re awesome! Thank you so much for updating that! I will take a look. :) You’re awesome, as usual!

  26. OK, so I am always confused with these hanging “lamps” do you hang the wire on a hook in the ceiling then running the cords back down to a socket??? Or are you crawling through your attic space being an electrician…because then I am extremely impressed?!

  27. Trisha Taylor says:

    This is probably a dumb question, but are these plug in lights, or did you wire them into your switch?

    • Totally not a dumb question! They plug into a socket that is right behind the couch and look adorable. I pulled the cords out of the picture so that the focus was on the shades! xo

  28. Where did you get the fantastic plant pot?

  29. Ohh, so much good! A few things:
    1) I love that lamp wire! And the old timey plugs attached. Where?
    2) What?!?! No more old timey light bulbs? I knew they were phasing out filament bulbs, but I just thought they ment the boating ones. I also know they use more energy, but cfl and led bulbs are just not pretty enough for exposed bulb lighting, and I do love me some exposed bulb lighting.
    3) I love lamp shade frames! I always cruise the lamp section looking for interestingly shaped ones and started my own little cluster (I randomly wrapped crochet thread around mine, they show up a few times here http://www.theambitiousprocrastinator.com/2013/05/feeling-little-loopy.html)
    4) I LOVE COPPER!!!!!

    That all.

    Nikki Kelly

  30. Janet reed says:

    Where did you find the cord?? Made a similar shade and had to use and ugly brown cord. Thanks!!

  31. i love this idea! i am wondering if you could do this same thing for an actual light fixture that hangs from the ceiling? would that be possible? i would love to hear how you would do that! you are SO talented!

  32. Awesome Ghost Lamps! I made some lime green ones once that reigned in many a compliment. So simple & so cute. Sucks about the bulbs! I had no idea… what will we do…..

  33. What a genius idea! I love that you spray painted them copper too – I just might have to do this now! Thanks for the fantastic idea, I’ll be thinking twice when I’m tempted to throw out those hideous lamp shades ;)

    XOXO

  34. LOVE this idea! Thanks so much for sharing!! I totally have some old lamp shades I’ve hanging on to FOREVER. I will have to try this. And I’m so excited about the “Rock What Ya Got Party! Thanks for the motivation.

  35. Love these! That copper spray paint rules! Must paint everything copper…

  36. Ahhhhh! You have no idea how happy this makes me! I have held on to a lamp shade skeleton for almost 2 months now wondering what wonderful thing I could do with it! Project time!

  37. I love this so much. Where did you get the light wire? BTW, I just saw the vintage style bulbs on clearance at Target for $2.50 each. I picked up a few for another fixture I have in the house but now I want to use one for this project. Thanks Mandi!

  38. FYI – I just found the lamp cord on ebay for about $15. Search for Lamp Cord Twisted Wire.

  39. You are psychic. I found 2 wire baskets at D.I. last month for a buck and totally want to make them into lights but didn’t know how. THANK YOU, you freaky mind reader.

  40. 1. I love everything about this project.

    2. WHY are filament bulbs outlawed?!

    • I have no idea! Probably to save energy etc. but it is so sad!

      • They are no longer allowed to be produced or sold in the US because 90% of their energy use is heat loss instead of light production. They are basically ridiculously inefficient.

  41. Amazing. So creative. I’m new to your blog, and going to start following it! This post reminds me of my own project using a thrift store lamp shade frame! http://cutekiduglyhouse.blogspot.com/2014/01/diy-faux-capiz-chandelier.html

  42. I made some of these for my daughter’s room a few years ago after seeing them in an antique shop. The older, more decorative frames can cost between 30-45 dollars so when you see them at the thrift store, you have to snag them!

  43. Howdy Mandi, I adore these fixtures! I might even hit some thrift stores today to look for a few. My question: on e I make these awesome shades, how do I attractively hang them and run the cords to an outlet? This is one of those “meaning of life” questions for all ceiling and wall fixtures that would change my universe. I actively do not start projects because I don’t want them to get all prettified and then go back to my garage because I am handyman challenged.

  44. I love this so glad I came upon your blog such great stuff!

    http://www.lifeisjustrosie.com

  45. Fabulous idea. Old lamps and lampshades are worth saving, there is always something you can do to revamp them and give them new life.
    Rock what ya got – love it – we could all do with less clutter and more awesome projects! Can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.

  46. These are amazing! I can’t wait to make my own. Love your site so much!

  47. Hi! Love your creative energy and vision! Thanks so much for sharing your insights! Have you any experience on living walls? If so, pls do share! We’re very intrigued! Thanks again! Happy 2014!

  48. New follower, love it all. You are fantastic! 90% of my home is thrifted as well, although I haven’t quite put it all together as seamlessly (that’s a word right?) as you have… not yet at least ;-)

  49. You’re my latest favourite blog, so pleased to have found you.
    Great article, fabulous use of thrift shop finds.
    Thanks. Bridget
    Fabulous Vintage
    http://www.fabulousvintage.com.au/

  50. Lindsey Wolfe says:

    I like this rock what you got idea! I have a handful of things in my garage/basement that have been so dang intimidating I’ve not started them. I will say this post motivated me! I called my aunt who has been offering for years to help me reupholster this chair I have from my Grandma’s house. Finally took her up on the offer to help me! (Does it count if I have help?!) Hoping she is available on Saturday to come over for some upholstery action! Are you starting this little monthly effort this month? So next Monday is the first # day? EEK! Excited to get my upholstery on!

  51. So I’ve inherited, collected, found (you get the point) a few light fixtures over the last hmm…13 (?) years living in my current home that will be my old home in approximately 2 weeks AND (I promise there is a point) I’ve been “busy in my head kind of thinking” of how I’m going to use these treasures in this next place…I need to rewire probably and/or change them from ceiling to possibly plug in fixtures. Seems like it’d be way too expensive and not very DIY to hand them off to a store to get done so I think I will look to you err, your blog, to guide me :) I’m excited after reading your posts all this time that I will actually take action on them! Thanks for the help!

  52. I love those! I cannot wait to move out of my tiny apartment with tons of rules so I can do things like this : )

  53. I love these. I love these a LOT. xo

  54. Those look fantastic and I love the way you hung them..

  55. awesome, i would love to see what the ceiling looks like though!

  56. I’m working on a plug in hanging light and immediately thought of these… how do you have them hooked into your ceiling? Staple gun? Brad nails? Hook? And yes… it’s another rocking’ Saturday night with my glue gun… :) Thanks!! xx Charlotte

  57. This is amazing!! I’m going to do this also :) Thanks for the tutorial!

  58. Super duper awesome upcycle! Go on, Mandi.

  59. Straykitten says:

    Hey, great blog and love, love, love your tutorials! I’m all inspired…just need to get off my butt and try some of these sweet ideas. One question though: I’m totally fawning over your plant pot in the Copper Wire Pendants photo (which I’m so going to try btw) – where did you get it?????

    Thanks!

  60. The lampshade pendant lights are awesome I have hung tosome shade bones for about 5 years . I had made some hand stitched shade from bandanas and doilys now some will have a new purpose. I love doing ‘ stuff ‘ with ‘stuff ‘

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