5 Unusual DIY Crafts With Old Light Bulbs
As more LED bulb options become available, you find yourself slowly replacing the incandescent bulbs you have been using for years. But don’t toss them in the trash just yet. Recycle your old light bulbs with one of these interesting craft ideas.
Old miniature indicator bulbs and other small bulbs can be used to create unique steampunk necklaces. All you need is copper jewelry wire, chain, and a jump ring. Wrap the wire around the base or through holes carefully drilled through the sides, and make a loop through the top for the jump ring. Add gears, clocks, keys, and other accents to complete the look.
Crafty Tip: Small bulbs can also be used to create earrings and brooches, while larger bulbs can be incorporated into props.
Painted Christmas Ornaments
Looking for a craft your children can do? Transform light bulbs into painted Christmas ornaments. Bulbs of various shapes can be turned into assorted characters such as reindeer and Santa using acrylic paint. If you have very young children, you can use old globe light bulbs to make snowmen keepsake ornaments. Paint the bulb a solid color. Once dried, cover your child’s hand with white paint. Set the ornament in the palm of his or her hand, having them hold it like a ball for a few seconds so that their hand print is left. After the white paint dries, add in details to turn each fingerprint into a snowman. These keepsakes also make wonderful gifts.
Crafty Tip: Light bulbs can also be coated with glue and covered in glitter. For Halloween, make spiders by painting the bulbs black and adding wire legs.
Even though your old burnt out bulbs no longer work, they can still provide bright points of light as upcycled suncatchers. Another fun craft for kids, you can take any clear bulb and decorate it with a variety of shapes.
What you need:
Old light bulbs
Black puffy paint
Copper wire and twine
Hair dryer (optional)
Step 1: With the screw base pointing up, use the puffy paint to outline the shapes or design on your bulb. Mistakes can be easily wiped away with a damp cloth while the paint is still wet. When you are done, set the bulb down on something to keep it upright (like a bottle cap as pictured below) and allow to completely dry.
Step 2: Once dry, you can begin adding color. Apply the suncatcher paint in thin layers. Depending on the design, you may need to paint each shape or section individually to ensure that the paint doesn’t drip or run.
Step 3: Allow the paint to dry. You can use a hair dryer set on the lowest setting to help speed up the drying time.
Step 4: Use the copper wire to make a hanger for the bulb. We made an oval of wire and placed it over the bottom of the screw base, then twisted both ends tight until there was a small loop on each side.
Step 5: Run a length of twine though the loops and hang your new suncatcher.
Since these suncatcher bulbs are glass, hang them in areas where they won’t bumped into. If being used outside, be sure to seal the entire bulb with a waterproof sealer (like Outdoor Mod Podge) to protect the paint from rain or melting in extreme heat.
Crafty Tip: You can also make suncatcher paint using glue and food coloring. Add one to two drops of color for every tablespoon of glue.
If you use C7 and C9 strings as part of your holiday decorations, you probably have lots of bulbs to replace every year. Use the burnt out bulbs to create a holiday wreath. Glue bulbs directly to a foam form to create a wreath made entirely out of bulbs (as pictured). Be sure to cover all of the foam so it doesn’t show through. The number of bulbs needed will vary depending on the size of the wreath, however plan on using at least 100 for a 8.5 inch wreath form. C7 and C9 bulbs also make great additions to Christmas wreaths as well.
Crafty Tip: Make holiday refrigerator magnets by taking old C7 or C9 bulbs and gluing a magnet to the back.
Concrete Wall Hooks
For expert DIYers, turn old light bulbs into wall hooks with some concrete and a long wall screw. The light bulb needs to be cleaned out by removing the contact, insulator, discharge tube, and other internal parts removed. Any coating inside the bulb can be removed by pouring some salt in and shaking it until the glass is clear. Slowly add concrete and place the screw head down once the bulb is nearly full. Once the concrete is fully dry, which may take several days, very carefully break the glass away. You will need to wear gloves and use small brushes to remove small pieces of glass from around the socket. Be sure to mount the hook to a wall stud.
Crafty Tip: For a more decorative, look use epoxy resin. You can suspend items in the resin including the bulb filaments removed during cleaning, dried flowers, and other small objects.
Know of some other interesting crafts that use old light bulbs? Tell us about in the comments below. Be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest pages to find more fun craft ideas!