Turning a Bowl Into a Lampshade

The lamp that inspired my glass shade, is this $199 one from Pottery Barn,
Alternate View

I really love the pressed glass fluting, and the shine associated with the mercury glass look. While out estate sale-ing We found a lamp base and a bowl, and decided to see if we could Frankenstein all the pieces together to make a similarly feeling lamp.  

The first step to turning a bowl into a lamp shade is to cut a hole into the bottom of the bowl, which is a bit daunting to say the least! I was very worried I was going to break the bowl, but I figured that if I did, then at least I would only be out a couple of dollars. (Don’t forget to wear safety glasses anytime you are doing anything with power tools and/or glass.)

I started by tracing the size of circle I needed to fit the shade over the lamp socket onto the bottom of the bowl, and then I used a cordless dremel tool with a ceramic tile bit (now I probably should ave used a glass bit, but I had a ceramic bit, so that is what I used.) I filled the bowl with a tiny bit of water, so that the bit would stay cooler and hopefully the bowl wouldn’t smash or crack. It took forever to get through the bowl’s bottom, but once I did, I was able to open the hole up a little. (This is a good project to get a buddy involved with, Paul held the bowl still for me so that I only had to worry about what I was doing.) The going was very slow, which might again have been because of the bit I was using, but I really was determined to not have to spend the money on a new bit if I didn’t have to.

As soon as the hole was big enough I switched from the Dremel to my stained glass grinder, which was much faster, I simply ground around the hole in a circular motion until I couldn’t see the permanent marker anymore.

At this point I finally realized I had been holding my breath the whole time, and let out a huge sigh! Honestly neither Paul nor I could believe I hadn’t managed to break the bowl. It also turned out the bottom was about 1/4″ thick, which explains why it took so long to cut through!

Next I taped off the top rim with blue painter’s tape, and took the bowl outside and sprayed the inside with a couple of coats to looking glass spray that I had left over from another project. After the 2nd coat of spray went on, I brought the bowl inside and sprayed the inside of the bowl with a little white vinegar mixed with water, and dabbed at the inside of the bowl with a paper towel to mottle the looking glass effect a little to make it look like mercury glass.

I am crazy happy with how this lamp shade turned out, probably mostly because I didn’t break it!

The lamp base is still waiting to be finished, so I’ll try to get on that so I can show the finished lamp in the next couple of days.

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