DIY mercury glass lamp with burlap shade

Mercury Glass Lamp 3Lamp shade 3

Well, after some interweb troubles I am back online! Feels like it’s been ages since I’ve blogged and in that time I have scored myself a new job. One that is permanent (seems my little leap of faith into the temp world paid dividends by putting me in a fantastic company who happened to have a vacancy in their legal & external relations team. YAY!) and one that is keeping me pretty busy.

Working longer hours than I used to makes my free time all the more special and so I was really happy to get this lamp done over the weekend, as well as decorate the house for Christmas and make a few homemade baubles for the tree. I still haven’t got around to my annual Christmas baking but seeing as I am munching on a bag of Pfeffernüsse and I just saw a recipe for them on foodgawker (thanks Abby!) I think the universe is trying to tell me something. I must make these biscuits! Plus, Dave is at the pool and is looking forward to one of these spicy little beauties when he gets back. If I manage to polish off the whole bag before then I might owe him a batch… Oh nein!

So lets get to this lovely little lamp! As I’ve said before, when I go thrifting lamps are one of the things I always look out for. They are such a good way to add atmosphere to a room and they come in all kinds of interesting shapes and sizes. And you can never have too many. Unless you are Dave, who actually said to me “haven’t we’ve got enough lamps?”. Enough lamps? He may as well have stolen my new bike on Christmas day. No Pfeffernüsse for you Mister! (Ok, ok I’m joking. You can have one.)

before & after

When I saw this glass lamp at my local Savers (a chain of second hand shops) I knew it had potential but I didnt think it would turn out quite as good as it did. You see, like most people I was drooling over these Pottery Barn Mercury Glass Lamps. Who wouldn’t? So a lamp base made out of hollow glass was the perfect find.

The glass was made from 3 separate parts and to get them all free from the lamp I had to take the actual light fitting apart. Don’t try this on an expensive or treasured lamp in case you can’t put it back together again but I would say, this is not the first time I’ve done this and it really is quite simple as long as you’re handy with a screwdriver and can remember the correct order of the parts. I took photos for back up! I am by no means encouraging anyone who isn’t qualified to start mucking around with electrical things and then plugging them back in the wall – at your own risk my friends! For reals.

Lamp base 2

To fake mercury glass there is one thing you must have and that is Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint. I’ve mentioned it here in my first mercury glass post, including where to purchase it in Oz (thank you Caswell Australia, the one and only place I found!).

For this project you will need:

Krylon Looking Glass Spray Paint

Lamp with glass base

Spray bottle with 1/2 water, 1/2 vinegar solution

Masking tape

Screwdrivers

Drum shade

Burlap/Hessian

Spray adhesive

Glue gun

Ok, first things first. Whenever I revamp a second hand lamp the very first thing I do is check to see if it’s working. Imagine proudly inserting a bulb in your newly finished project only to discover it won’t turn on and the lamp is broken. Boo.

Take a good look at the whole lamp to figure out how it is put together (where are the screws, joins etc). This will tell you how to take it apart. If you can just remove the light fitting from the base and easily paint the glass you are a lucky duck. If not, you may have to take apart the light fitting itself like I did. I’ve only ever tried this when the switch is part of the light fitting and not part of the cord so I can’t say whether the latter is doable. The old lamps usually have the switch in the top so look out for those.

Like I said, I’m not qualified so I won’t give you a tutorial on how to take apart and reassemble a light fitting but one handy hint is that there are some small loose fitting parts inside that are hard to keep in place when you’re connecting the two white parts together because they want to succumb to gravity and fall out. To get around that, simply wrap some ribbon over the loose parts and hold it in place while you put the two white parts in place then just draw out the ribbon. Trust me, it will make sense at the time and you can look at the photos for reference.

Glass before painting

To get a good mercury glass effect (this attempt was even better than my last one) you need a spray bottle that will give you small droplets, not a superfine mist. I used an empty window spray bottle.

Inside of glass after painting

Clean and dry your glass and tape over any edges, lips or surface area you don’t want to get the spray on. In a well ventilated area give the inside of the glass a light spray of the vinegar solution, and two very light coats of looking glass spray (it is very thin so runs easily). Let it dry for a few minutes and then tap or ‘burst’ all the water droplets with your finger – the paint that was on top of the water droplets will lift off onto your finger and that’s how you get that nice mottled effect. Repeat this process about 4 times or until you have the desired result. Let it dry thoroughly.

I also had great success painting the gold coloured metal base with the looking glass spray to turn it to silver. It looks fantastic.

Painted base

For the hessian/burlap shade cut the hessian to the size of the shade with a 1 inch overlap at the seam and a 1 inch border on each side. Spray the shade and the inside of the hessian with spray adhesive and on a flat surface with the adhesive side up, put the shade on one end and roll up. Use the hot glue gun to secure the seam. Wrap the border around the edge of the shade and use the hot glue gun around the inside of the edge to secure the hessian. I did realise after I had finished that I need to get a thick ribbon or trim to glue over the top of the over-lapped hessian to make it prettier and cover up the rough edges on the inside so as soon as I find the right ribbon that’s what I’ll do.

Taking light apart 7

For an $8 lamp I am seriously impressed with the result and love the look of this shiny beauty on my bed side table!

Lamp in the evening 1

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Fancy Framed Pinboard

My best friend of 17 years has the same birthday as me (fun fact: I am 5 hours and 1 minute older than her) and this year for our present exchange I decided to make her gifts since I had the time because I wasn’t working (and therefore also trying to be frugal).

I found this great frame and lamp base at a local op-shop and got to work. The frame was a great find. The satin flower print was horrible but the frame was metal and in great shape. I thought about getting mirror cut for it but in the end I decided to make a pinboard with some leftover cream hessian (burlap) from my chair upholstery adventure and a corkboard I had left over from my pin board art. The bestie has a fondness for pinning interesting and inspiring little snippets on a mood board so I thought this would be a nice version for her new apartment.

The lamp was an easy spray paint job and you can find a more detailed tutorial for that here.

To make a Fancy Framed Pinboard you will need

Frame with backing

Matt black spray paint

Spray adhesive

Corkboard

Hessian (you could also use calico or canvas or any sturdy fabric)

Scissors

Exacto knife

Ribbon

Staple gun or hot glue gun

Take the backing out of the frame. Clean and dry the frame and spray with 3 coats of spray paint, letting each coat dry before the next.

Using the backing as a guide, cut out the shape of the corkboard to fit the frame using an Exacto knife.

Cut out two pieces of hessian in the same shape.

In a well ventilated area, glue one piece of hessian onto the corkboard using the spray adhesive and the glue the next piece on top of that.

Using the staple gun or hot glue gun, attach the ribbon in whatever design you like by wrapping it around the hessian covered corkboard and securing it at the back.

Attach it to the frame and you’re done!

Don’t you think this one looks a bit like a Victorian brooch? I was tempted to keep it for myself!

The lamp (although I think it was quite nice to begin with) also got a chic matt black update.

And the birthday girl? She loved them!

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An old chair gets new threads

First, a very special announcement. My birthday was last Saturday and Dave (aka Mr Wonderful) gave me the best birthday present in the history of birthday presents – he asked me to marry him! We are both on top of the world and I am looking forward to wedding planning and some wedding project blogging!

And now back to our regularly scheduled program. This chair has been the most labourious and rewarding project I’ve tackled so far in my DIY endeavours. I’ve wanted to get stuck into furniture for a while and have a few pieces I’ve found at second-hand shops awaiting some TLC.  This open armed side chair was $12.99 and when I saw it I knew it had potential. After reading about the 7 Essential Pieces on Good Bones, Great Pieces I have been on the lookout for all 7 so at least now I can tick ‘Occasional Chair’ of the list!

Having no upholstery experience whatsoever I did what I always do – I googled. I found this tutorial on Apartment Therapy and this tutorial (plus many more great tutorials) on Mod Home Ec. I also used a bit of good old brain power and paid careful attention to how the chair was originally upholstered as I removed all the upholstery tacks, staples, fabric and padding. I was able to use the original padding under the foam cover and I was also able to put fresh batting straight over some old fabric on the back rest as it was in really good condition. This isn’t a complete tutorial* because I think the other tutorials mentioned above have much better techniques. I tried my hardest to do everything correctly but in some parts I just kind of made it up and hoped for the best. It all worked out but it may not be ‘proper’. I hope this post might serve as inspiration to someone who may think upholstering a chair is too hard – it’s not and if I can do it you can too! Just choose a simple style to start with like I did and get yourself a good staple gun. And if you have any questions, please ask!

*For a kind of tutorial the step-by-step photos are below – just click on the slideshow.

Materials used for this project

Open armed side chair

2 meters of upholstery-worthy fabric (choose something very sturdy and long-wearing).

1 meter of cream hessian (burlap for those of you in the USA)

1 meter of polyester batting

Medium-duty staple gun with staples (I used 8mm)

Pliers

Scissors

Fabric covered button making kit

Large needle and tough thread (I used quilting thread)

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