When I look at things now, I tend to simplify them – I break them down into their components and try to analyze the processes necessary to join those components into whatever final product I’m looking at. I found a “lamp kit” at Lowe’s a year or so ago and started making wine bottle and liquor bottle lamps for my friends, and I realized that lamps are actually very simple to make.
One night, a friend of mine asked if I’d ever tried making lamps out of anything else, and the truth was that it hadn’t even crossed my mind, but once I thought about it, I realized that all a lamp is is something upon which a light bulb is mounted. As far as I know, a lamp needs to accept a bulb, provide a mechanism for turning that bulb on and off, preferably conceal the cord necessary to plug the bulb socket into a power source, and support a lamp shade. Since the cord connects directly to the bulb socket and the shade mounts either directly to the bulb or on the “harp“, which itself connects to the bulb socket, the actual body of the lamp can be damn near anything!
My friend offered to pay me $20 to convert her old trumpet into a lamp, and I accepted the challenge. It turns out that musical instruments, and wind instruments in particular, are perfectly suited to making lamps. The hollow interior of the instruments provides a perfect channel through which to run the cord, the mouthpiece is a perfect place to mount the bulb socket and the business end (I believe they call it a “bell” in the case of the trumpet) is broad enough to provide a stable base for the finished lamp.
Here’s the finished product:
The response I got to this lamp from my friends and family was so overwhelmingly positive that I decided to make a series. My next attempt was a ukulele. Since the ukulele is enclosed, I had to go about it a bit differently. Colonel Dad and I drilled a hole through the entire body of the ukulele, starting just behind where the neck joins to the body. We ran a piece of all-thread through the hole and along the back of the neck. We attached it to the backside of the neck with small brass brackets and tiny screws. We mounted the bulb socket to the top of this all-thread and ran the cord down through it. We mounted the bottom end of the all-thread into a solid block of wood which provided the stable, weighted base to help the ukulele stand upright under the weight of the bulb socket and shade, and ran the cord out through the back of the base.
I’m currently working on converting an old silver clarinet. I’ll update this post with pictures of it when I’m done.
[UPDATE] It’s been a few years, but here are a few more!
The base of the silver clarinet is a sauce-pot lid painted flat gray.
This trombone lamp was a bit more difficult, as it has to sit on the edge of whatever surface you place it on, allowing the arm to drop below the level of the surface. Still, I think it’s pretty cool (and so did the buyer). Again, I used a weighted cigar box as a base.