Some upcycling projects evoke a smile. For example, old-fashioned rotary phones are re-imagined as decorative desk lamps. Other upcycling projects dazzle, such as perky pendant lights with porcupine-like spikes formed from tight rolls of recycled paper.
Innovative artisans and upcycling enthusiasts from around the world are repurposing a wide variety of potential discards into interesting lamps and light fixtures. Some are functional and unfussy. Others are works of art. Lots are delightfully whimsical.
All of them demonstrate the delicious potential of upcycling, and ideally reducing waste.
On his Instructables page, Sudhu Tewari provides his do-it-yourself version for a portable solar-powered light using an empty plastic deodorant tube. He describes his design as an easy hack for a homemade bike light. It also features a solar panel reclaimed from a garden light.
“I love reusing discarded things,” Tewari says. “It gives me great satisfaction to be able to reuse something rather than sending it to landfill.”
Pendant lamps from Verdepumo Etsy shop sport a spikey sea urchin vibe. They’re entirely handmade with recycled paper.
“Working with recycled paper is a way to turn garbage into poetry,” says Verdepumo shop owner and designer, Mery Spilotro of Italy. “To learn to have a new look. A look full of opportunities.”
Other recycled paper lighting projects:
- Etsy vendor Formma from Vilnius, Lithuania, builds handmade lampshades with recycled cardboard
- Cardboard lamp DIY instructions from Nordwerk Design on YouTube
Vintage rotary phones are rolling out as desk lamps from a variety of artisans and do-it-yourselfers. While designs vary somewhat, usually the phones-as-lamps feature hovering handsets as the light source.
- Upcycled vintage phone lamp from WroughtIronFamily Etsy shop from Bulgaria
- Get a peek at the technique for upcycling an old phone into a lamp on YouTube
- “Phamp” upcycled phone lamps from Dubchinsky Etsy shop from Germany
“I generally don’t like seeing nice things go to landfills, especially if there is a fun way to give them a new life,” says Gosha Dubchinsky. “ With my Phamps, I take pieces of history, really cool looking artifacts from the past and upcycle them to give them a future and let them light up people’s homes and faces with smiles. I think that a lot of things that we actually need have already been produced in the past and are just waiting for us to find them.”
“It’s a beautiful process to use something that was intended for a different use and turn it into something amazing and unique,” says Tara Stemper, who owns Industrial Lightworks with her husband. They use as many upcycled materials as possible in each fixture they create, she says. “We feel we are doing our part in taking care of [our] footprint and helping to reduce others’ footprints as well.
“We are always looking for new ways to use old materials. It’s a fun challenge and our customers love us for it. We use old doors, all different types of metal, reclaimed barn wood, antiqued tins, repurposed funnels, wine bottles, metal filaments, you name it, we’ll give it a try.”
For do-it-yourself bottle lights:
- DIY Network offers instructions online in Upcycle Wine Bottle Into Pendant Light Fixtures
- In their book, Recycled Bottle Lamps, Nicholas Jager and Silke Jager feature ideas and instructions
- Get a head start on your upcycling project with a bottle lamp kit
- For an extra-easy DIY, light up your favorite empty wine bottles with drop-in battery-operated wine bottle lights
- Visit Instructables for a tutorial on Liquor Bottle Lights
Under the Hood
The aesthetically pleasing pendants are degreased and upcycled engine filters from trucks and other heavy equipment. “These fixtures are what we like to call ‘perfectly imperfect’ and are truly one of a kind,” the Etsy page states.
Other Upcycled Lights
Ready to buy:
- Bronze binoculars upcycled into a hanging lamp from WroughtIron Family feature hidden LED bulbs
- Welded vintage golf clubs form the bases for lamps from Vintage Golf Gifts
- Industrial Bakery Whisk wall sconce from Discount Bakery Equipment is mounted on reclaimed wood
- Upcycled Skateboard Lamp from TinyIndustrial on Instructables
- Upcycled DVD Tower Night Lamp from fstedie on Instructables
- Lampshade From Recycled Water Bottles from bara1962 on Instructables
- DIY Egg Carton Lampshade from Artisan Pallet on YouTube
Featured image courtesy of Tim Gouw, Pexels