I might be guilty of frequenting my local thrift stores for inspiration and DIY project opportunities. I don’t always get lucky, but this time I found two tall decorative metal vases - you know, the ones that hold large Pampas Grass or decorative sticks. I was captured immediately by the patterns on the vases and started reeling about what they could be turned into.
I know this might sound crazy, but when I see something that intrigues me at the thrift store, I turn it upside down and for some reason it tricks my brain into seeing the object as something entirely different. This time, I saw these vases being perfect as pendant lights and I decided to make them into outdoor pendants for my porch. With Fall here and the weather hopefully (fingers crossed) about to start cooling off, the porch is my favorite spot to wind down in the evenings.
One of the aluminum vases from my local thrift store.
This project was super easy and turned out really well. I hope you can find some inspiration from it, or create your own lighting!
Let's dive into upcycling these vases!
These are the materials I used to get started:
Materials and tools I used to create the pendants.
- Dremel with metal cutting disc
- Heat gun
- Spray paint (color of choice). My metallic finish is Copper and my black, is a flat black.
- Wood Circle that is the same diameter of vase diameter. I cut one myself using my router, but you can buy them from your craft store or Amazon has a variety of sizes available for purchase.
- 220 grit sandpaper
- JB Weld, clear
- Tape measure
- Metal rasping tool
- Razor blade
- Protective gear
Pendant light from Amazon (see link) and bulbs.
- Vintage style, amber glass, warm candle light. I purchased mine from Lowes.
Step One: I cut the vase into two separate parts, picking a spot where the diameter of the top and the bottom, once cut, would be the same. Like you see here...
The Red line is where I made my cut.
I used my Dremel with a metal cutting disc attached (you can pick them up at your local hardware store) to make the cuts and it worked perfectly. The cut on mine was a bit jagged, so I took 220 grit sandpaper and a metal rasping tool to smooth out the edges. I also roughed up the finish on the vases with the 220 grit sandpaper so the spray paint would adhere better and wiped everything with a clean rag when I finished.
Cutting and sanding process.
Step Two: I chose a Copper metallic paint from Rust-oleum and a Flat Black from Krylon (as seen above) to paint my pendants. I used the Black on the top piece and my wood circle, and the Copper on the bottom piece. Two coats was all I applied, flipping the pieces over between coats to ensure even, full coverage on each piece.
I painted the inside first, and then moved on to painting the outside. Painting the inside was kind of awkward, but I was able to make it work well enough to get the whole inside covered. After the first coat I flipped the pieces over when dry and did the second coat.
Step Three: After my pieces were dry enough to handle I started to assemble my light. The pendant light I purchased from Amazon came with a piece that could be added to hold a lamp shade. After I put the head of the pendant light through the top of the vase, I screwed the lamp shade holder on tight, which prevented the light source from falling back through the neck of the vase.
It was at this point that I decided it was a good time to check both the light bulb and the pendant before I secured them in place to make sure neither was faulty. Once I confirmed functionality, I removed the light bulb, reset the head of the pendant in place - making note of where the lamp shade piece hit the vase neck, mixed my JB weld and applied a liberal amount where the two pieces connected. I screwed in the light bulb and used it as a visual aid, to get the pendant head as centered as possible in the neck of the vase. JB weld says it sets within five minutes of application, so I set this piece aside for about 15-20 minutes before moving onto the next step.
Step Four: Now that the head of the pendant light is secured, I was able to handle the top piece and pull the pendant cord through the center of my wood circle piece. I used a 1 1/2" boring bit, attached to my drill and cut out the center of my circle in order to pull the cord through (I did this before I painted it). Next, I placed the top piece into the bottom of the vase, leaving about an inch of the top. I used JB Weld where the top piece made contact with the base of the vase. Then I center the circle piece onto the top vase piece and glue around the edges of the top where the wood made contact with the top piece. See images for reference.
Pull the plug through the hole of the wood circle piece. Place the top of the vase into the base of the vase, leaving 1" of the vase at the top and glue using JB weld where the pieces connect.
I made these pendants separately, using the first one as a trial run, and found when I applied the JB weld on the first pendant to attach the top piece, the glue added just enough lubrication to the top, making it slip and fall into the vase bottom piece. To fix this, I just bent the top base edges in a bit, to hold the top better while applying the JB weld.
Bend edges slightly in to make assembly easier.
Step Five: While the JB weld around the top was still curing, I took my walnut banding and measured around the base to get the length I'd need, cut about 1/4" extra with a pair of scissors, and wrapped the top of the pendant where all the seams were to create a more finished look. To affix the banding I used a heat gun to melt the glue (banding came pre-glued), and used a scrap piece of wood to push the banding onto the pendant, and trim off any overlap.
Using a heat gun and a small scrap piece of wood, cover all glued seams, making the banding flush with the top of the pendant.
Step Six: This is always the hardest part, having patience to wait for the glue to dry and set completely! Luckily I finished right around dinner time, so I had to take a break anyway. To hang the pendants I gave my ceiling placement holes 9" clearance from the wall and 9" from each other. This gave them enough room to swing slightly if the wind happens to pick up. The bottoms of these vases felt weighted already, so that will help keep them from swinging too much.
After dinner (I couldn't wait til the morning) I had to hang them and see what they looked like!
Hang pendants with enough space that they won't hit anything if they swing slightly.
Close-up of finished pendants.
LOVE THEM!!! I am so pleased with the way they turned out! These would also be pretty sitting on the ground, as you can see the pattern creates a beautiful shadow when the pendant is on.
I hope that your inspired and if you create your own, tag us on Instagram @reddesignedinteriors and #reddesignedtutorials. We'd love to see your version!