Beach Craft: Sea Glass Lamp

Create a lamp using a bottle that you can fill with your favorite beach finds

bottle lamp with sea glass or shells

By Paula Newman

Drilling a glass bottle uses the same technique as drilling sea glass, but on a much larger scale. Select a bottle that has an opening large enough to allow you to add your beach finds and fits the adapter (also known as a bung) that comes with your lamp kit. 

supplies to make a lamp with a bottle and beach finds

Supplies:

  • Lamp kit 
  • Empty bottle with large neck
  • Drill/multi tool (Dremel or similar)
  • Collet and wrench/spanner to adjust collet to fit diameter of bits (if not part of your drill)
  • Diamond-tipped round and cylindrical grinding bits (4mm and 10mm)
  • Carborundum/carbide grinding bit (optional)
  • Screwdriver
  • Large container for water
  • Cloth to dry any splashes 
  • Safety glasses 
  • First aid kit 
  • Cut lube (optional)
  • Lamp shade
  • Sea glass. shells, stones, or other beach finds

Lamp Base:

how to make a lamp with a bottle

1. Fill a large rectangular plastic storage container and add water to submerge the glass bottle. The water should barely cover the glass. 

If the water is  too deep, your drill can be splashed. If that happens: STOP, unplug the drill, and dry off the electrical equipment with the cloth you have at the ready. If the drill has been heavily splashed it is wise to allow time for it to dry internally, for 24 hours in a warm, dry place. Before you continue, remove water from the container until the glass is barely covered.

drilling hole in bottle for lamp

2. The largest round diamond drill bit I normally use is 4mm, so I began with that to make the initial hole. Use short two– to three-second bursts on the side of the bottle with gentle pressure and then allow cool water to enter the hole to prevent glass and drill bit overheating. You will notice glass dust clouding the water.

Your drill bits last much longer if not allowed to overheat. Tiny diamonds are glued onto the steel shaft and if the glue overheats they fall off leaving you with a useless smooth drill bit.

Be patient with the process, because it’s better to take extra time for your safety. When the round drill bit first breaks through to the inside of the bottle, you can expect an exciting geyser of water to shoot up. 

grind hole in bottle for beach finds lamp

3. Swap to a cylindrical grinding bit and expand to a 10mm hole (or whatever size your kit requires) by grinding the edges in a constant circular motion.

bottle lamp grommet hole

4. Add the rubber grommet to the hole, and if your lamp kit doesn’t come with a rubber grommet, you may want to tidy up the edge of the hole with the carbide/carborundum grinding bit.

5. Rinse the bottle with fresh water and leave to dry completely before the next steps.

ASSEMBLY: 

Use the instructions that came with your lamp kit to add the grommet, test the rubber adapter, and attach the electrical cord. Following is the method for the kits that I use. Similar kits are available on Amazon at amzn.to/2Z4ohsI and amzn.to/2sFgF3V.

adapter for making a gin bottle lamp

6. Make sure the adapter fits the neck of the bottle snugly by trying it in the bottle neck. Some kits have adjustable bungs and some have multiple adapters to fit different-sized bottle necks. Choose the snuggest one. 

string lamp cord through bottle

7. Remove the adapter and insert the cord up through the bottle, starting in the hole at the base and pulling the cord up through the bottle, through the bottle neck, and through the hole in the adapter. 

fill bottle with sea glass or shells

8. Fill the bottle with sea glass, shells, beads, stones, or whatever you wish. When the bottle is completely filled, pulling the cord into position may be difficult, so gently shake the bottle and adjust the position of the cord by pulling on the cord from both ends while adding your beach treasures. If the plug end of the cord seems loose, you can secure it with a cord grip to prevent it from moving in case it is accidentally pulled from the outside. 

fit adapter onto bottle neck for lamp

9. Push the adapter into the bottle neck, so it fits snugly, then attach the electrical cord to the socket, following the instructions that came with your lamp kit. 

sea glass bottle lamp

For more information about drilling glass, including sea glass and beach glass, see The Peblsrock Pocket Guide to Drilling Sea Glass at bit.ly/bcdrilling.

This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine March/April 2020 issue.

When Paula is not making art and jewelry with her beach finds, you can find her on Seaham Beach, hunting for sea glass

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