It’s funny where inspiration comes from and it’s even more amusing where it might take you.
I’ve worked with a lot of glass bottles and every once in awhile I’ll come across one that I almost become obsessed with. My go to bottle lately has been the Finlandia Vodka bottle. It’s a pretty thick glass and it’s shape and contour set it apart from the other decanters. I’ve score and cut several of them now and they worked perfectly for plant holders and a pendant light. Silke then asked me to make a bottle lamp for our open house and a whole new world of possibilities presented itself.
The first thing that I noticed was that the bottom of the bottle was notched out perfectly to allow the electrical cord to sneak through. This space allowed me to actually run the cord through the bottom of the bottle and not have to worry about trying to drill through the side. With the shape of this bottle, I’m really not quite sure how that would have turned out.
Once I had the bottom drilled out then I was ready to put the whole thing together.
Everything was falling into place perfectly. What I had envisioned was using whole coffee beans as a filler and topping it off with a matching brown lamp shade. I had made a similar lamp using a Caribou coffee growler a few years back. Not only did that one turn out nice but it always smelled good as well!
Do you think I could find the right size lamp shade in a simple brown color? Nope. This seems like a really simple thing to achieve but after hitting all the big box stores and specialty shops we walked away empty handed. Our last resort was the second hand store. This last stop actually resulted in quite a few different choices which I found surprising. At this point I was willing to buy a whole lamp just to get the lamp shade that I wanted. Plans changed when there was a practically brand new Mossy Oak lamp shade sitting there. It was the right size and shape which would compliment the bottle perfectly. Not only did I score a nice lamp shade but I just saved myself at least ten bucks compared to what I would have paid anywhere else.
The next hurdle. Using the coffee beans as a filler was long forgotten. Now I’m thinking rustic lodge meets avid hunter type theme. I thought about rocks and maybe some sticks to match the camouflage but this didn’t really seem to meet the expectations that I had. When I think camo I think hunting and the whole thing would come together quite nicely with some ammunition shells. The neck of the bottle was too small for shotgun shells so brass casings were going to have to fit the bill. I knew what we needed but now the problem was where to find them.
There’s a shooting range right in town so we made our way over to ask if we could take some of there expended shells off their hands. I know that most of these can be reloaded and I was even willing to take 22 shell casings if they had them. The guy at the front desk stone walled me and I walked away empty handed. I found more laying around in the parking lot then what I could get inside. The idea of combing the parking lot to collect enough to fill the bottle was out of the question. We needed help and we needed to ask the right person for it.
I went on-line and asked and within twenty minutes I had a response! Ahhh the power of the internet. A gentleman who went by the name ‘Doc’ answered the call and we made all the arrangements to meet. After explaining what the shells were to be used for he immediately lit up and was proud to show off his custom made picture frames that used shell casings as the decorative overlay. It turns out he has a woodworking shop in a neighboring town and makes Adirondack chairs. Who knew we would meet a fellow DIY’er?
The first thing I did when we got home was finish putting this together. Everything else could wait. Not only did I have enough shells to fill the bottle but ‘Doc’ had taken the extra step of having all of the ones he sold me polished clean! This was getting better by the minute and I was getting pretty anxious to see this thing through all the way.
It probably took about ten minutes to put put the casings in the bottle. The shells were bigger than the 22 shells which made filling the bottle a lot quicker. They were small enough to get through the neck of the bottle but I still had to feed them through one at a time. Having the electrical cord come straight up from the bottom of the bottle also made concealing it that much easier as well.
Topping it all off. One of the most recurring questions that I get about bottle lamps is the lamp kits themselves. Most lamp kits come with three rubber stoppers in varying sizes that your supposed to use depending upon the size of the neck of your bottle. I’m not sure who was in charge of manufacturing these little rubber devices but I have always had to modify the closest one that fits to get it to work right. Imagine how amazed I was when one of the rubber stoppers actually fit the bottle neck to a ‘T’! This has never happened before and I took it as a sign that the universe had just come into some kind of cosmic balance and everything was right with world once again.
The end result. It’s funny how even after I put the lamp shade on one of these lamps it’s never quite good enough. Getting the lamp shade to sit evenly and fixing the way that it looks always consumes more of my attention than really necessary. Finally I was able to step back and take it all in. It turned out even better than I had imagined! I turned to Silke and commented that it was ‘the greatest bottle lamp that I had ever made’. Smirking she replied “That’s what you said last time.”
Maybe it’s true. I’m always trying to up the ante. But really why not. I mean if I started churning these things out like a factory robot, wouldn’t the whole experience become quite mundane? As long as I can think of a new angle I guess we’ll be always be hunting for lamp shades and meeting new people to help along the way.