Upcycling

Upcycled Plastic Fairy Lights

I’ve been itching to show you the new fairy lights I made.

I love lighting. Great lighting can make such a difference to a space, and particularly at this time of year. It can create a comforting feeling of warmth and coziness. I can’t get enough of fairy lights. Such is their positive effect on me, I left some up from last Christmas… and they’re still there. They’ve certainly helped lift my spirits in these past 6 months of very strange pandemic times.

So what’s so special about these lights?

Apart from giving off a lovely warm glow, the interesting thing about these lights is that the shades are made from upcycled plastic waste. They’re made from something some of us normally just use once and throw away.

So what exactly are they made of?

the humble roll-on deodorant bottle. Can you see now?

So why use this material?

I’ve always been quite fascinated by this simple but clever mechanism with it’s little ball fitted neatly, moving effortlessly in it’s socket. There’s something quite beautiful about these perfect little spheres. I would aways take them out and be amazed at their velvety flawlessness and feel sad that I had to throw them away – so i didn’t, I kept them, and saved them. They’re perfect little fairy light shades, light, durable and have just the right degree of tranlucency, when, attached to a fairy light bulb, to diffuse the glare and produce a soft pretty luminescence. 

How many balls would I need to make these?

As many as you want. It would very much depend on the lights you want to cover, which incidentally MUST be LEDs and low voltage 

I managed to amass 50 of them – it took me a while, and I just happened to have a spare set of 50 LED fairy lights in a lovely warm orangy/yellowy/white tone. Perfect.

How are they made?

I carefully measured the width of the stem of each light, about 5 millimetres below the bulb and with a corresponding drill bit, just ever so slightly larger, drilled a hole in each plastic ball. This is cleaner than using heat or a soldering iron but the ball will need to be clamped and held steady. I got my partner to do this – he’s more skilled at using a drill and, to be honest, I don’t think he like me using his tools

Using a flexible glue from the local Pound Shop and a wooden cocktail stick ! worked on just a few at a time to keep them as still as possible and prevent  tangles. I applied a generous amount of glue around the rim of each opening and slipped the ball over the bulbs just enough for it to sit neatly in the centre. The glue takes about an hour to dry properly and I’t’s a slow process so you need to be patient – but it’s so worth it. If you’re not so patient you could use a hot glue gun, but it’s a lot messier.

It’s single use plastic, of course so it’s best not to buy them in the first place, and I try not to used them any more (thats a whole other story post), but so many people do. Thousands of these bottles are used and thrown away each year- and it’s not hard to get hold of them.  You could easily ask friends and family to save them for you.

I’d used different deodorants  so they varied in size. This worked really well. I placed the smaller balls randomly among the larger ones, and one at each end of the lighting chain.

I think they look great. If any more happen to come my way – I think a coloured set would be nice too.