Melted plastic lamp shade: How To Turn A Craft Fail Into A Craft Success

Melted plastic lamp shade
It was heading for the bin... now it's on my sideboard!

Perhaps your craft isn’t what you expected, but that doesn’t make it a failure. Just embrace a different aesthetic and leave the project as it is.

This was the course of action I chose with the light above - the plastic didn’t melt like I was expecting, but I came to terms with a different look.

Here’s four other approaches:

No. 2: Fix it?

More often or not, when things go wrong, they can be fixed - it just takes a little bit of extra commitment, so don’t give up too quickly.

No. 3: Change it?

If you can’t achieve the results you were hoping for, change your design. For example, when the plastic didn’t melt like I was expecting, I could have tried creating the same effect using curled strips of paper.

No. 4: Park it?

When everything has failed, and your motivation is rock bottom, park your project and come back to it in the future. With a fresh perspective you might be able to make a success of it the second time around.

No. 5: Trash it?

Of course, there will be times when the best course of action is to trash your project and start again, or do something completely different. Hopefully, this option will be less frequent now!

How to make one

If you’d like to try your hand at making your own ‘melted’ plastic lamp and lamp shade here’s some detailed instructions.

How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustrated guide (part 1)
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and Light: illustrated guide (part 2)
Can't read the instructions?

What you need

To make this elegant recycled light shade and stand you’ll need an old biscuit/sweet tin, some disposable plastic party bowls and a large plastic soda bottle. You’ll also need a glue gun and basic tools.

Step 1

Use scissors to trim the rim off each bowl and cut a hole in the base. You’ll need to use about 8 bowls.

Step 2

Now cut thin strips around the sides of the bowl. Leave a gap at the top, as shown.

Step 3

Rest each bowl on a drinking glass and heat in the oven until the strips go wavy (I was hoping they would melt and shrivel, this was the part that I wasn't expecting - apparently only certain plastics behave like this).

Step 4

Remove rim and trim into short sections.

Step 5

Take the soda bottle and cut out a straight section using a craft knife or scissors.

Step 6

Glue the strips of plastic onto the section of soda bottle. Work your way up from the bottom, overlapping each row as you go.

Step 7-10

To make the shade 'lid', cut out a disc of tin, 6mm bigger than the shade, Snip edges into short sections (tabs) and then bend them down using pliers.

Step 11

Use sand paper to remove any paint from the surface of the lid. Push the lid into the shade and use hot glue to secure it into position.

Step 12

Use wire (1.5mm galvanised) to make the shade support. Create a ring and join it with struts to the plastic light fitting, again, using hot glue to secure it into position.

How to make the stand

Step 13

Attach a hollow steel tube to the other end of the light fitting by drilling a hole and then glueing.

Step 14

Cut off a section of tin can. Attach a lid (follow step 7). Drill holes for the cable and steel tube. Using hot glue wrap a strip of tin (from the biscuit or sweet tin) around the tin can.

Step 15

Run cable through base and steel tube. Squeeze lots of hot glue through!

Please note: Because the light shade is made of plastic I’d advise using a low energy bulb – one that doesn’t get too hot.

Left illustration
Right illustration