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How to make a lightbulb vase

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Upcycle your burned-out bulbs

Out with the old? No way! If you're looking for a clever way to reuse those old incandescent lightbulbs as you switch to newer, more eco-friendly models, try turning those energy-suckers into a beautiful way to enjoy the beauty of nature right in your own home.

Bulb vase

This simple craft takes only a few minutes per bulb. When you're done, hang your new vases or set them atop repurposed soda bottle lids for a desk version. You can even temporarily hang them outside for a little pop of fun during a wedding or bridal shower.

What you'll need:

  • Incandescent lightbulb(s)
  • Tweezers
  • Precision or other small screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Flower(s)
  • Twine, string or plastic bottle cap (optional)

quick Tip

Wear gardening or work gloves and eye protection during this craft to protect yourself from glass debris. The bulbs are very strong glass and shouldn't easily break in your hand if you're careful, but there's no way to predict how it will break and why, especially with a bulb that's been used for some time. Safety first!

Step 1: Pop the top

Step 1: Pop the top

On the tip of the lightbulb, you'll see a small silver- or brass-colored disk. Use your tweezers to gently pry this piece away from the bulb. Once it's up a bit, you can use the tweezers or a pair of pliers to pull it off, exposing a small hole in the black cap underneath.

Once the disk is removed, you'll need to expose the insides of the bulb. The black part under the metal disk is not metal or plastic, but glass. Carefully insert the point of a precision screwdriver into the hole and twist and pry until the black glass snaps. Do this over a plastic bag for easy cleanup. How it snaps can be unpredictable (sometimes it may snap in half and other times it may shatter). Either way, continue with the prying and twisting until you've removed all the glass.

Bulb vase

Step 2: Insides out

Once you remove all the black glass, you'll notice more glass tubes and small wires on the inside. Use the screwdriver and/or pliers to gently break this apart and remove all the glass and wires from the inside.

On some bulbs, you may have to pry the metal surrounding the opening to accomplish this (and it can always be squeezed back into place using the pliers), but try to avoid that, as those edges can be sharp.

Dump the insides of the bulb onto your work surface until your bulb is completely empty. You may need to rinse the leftover shards of glass out of the bulb.

Step 3: Decorate and place

Step 3: Decorate and place

Believe it or not, you're almost done! If you plan to hang your vase, tie a piece of twine around the silver cap securely. If you plan to place it on a desk, table or other surface, you can repurpose an old plastic bottle lid by painting it and setting it flat-side down on the table (the curve of the bulb will fit nicely into the empty lid). What size lid you need depends on what size bulb you have.

Then, simply fill your bulb vase with water and put in your favorite flowers. Depending on the size of your bulb, it will probably look best with only a few short flowers. You can also skip the water and pop in a dried bloom. We've even seen some dirt, rock and greenery-filled terrariums!

More ways to upcycle

Upcycling meets crafting: Pinterest edition
5 Soda bottle crafts for kids
DIY Mason Jar soap dispenser

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