Last week I was about to throw out a few sets of old, unsalvageable Christmas lights when I had a minor brainstorm.
So naturally, I immediately abandoned the other half-dozen projects I've been working on (naturally!), and spent the next few hours making my new favorite upcycle:
DANGLY LIGHT BULB JEWELRY!
This was a zero cost craft for me; I had the colorful enameled copper rings left over from a chain mail kit, and the silver bracelet is one of those $3 deals from JoAnns, which I also had stashed away.
The copper wires inside the lights really stand out, so I'd love to make my next one using bright copper rings.
Since this is a bracelet, the glass bulbs fall like bugle beads when you put it on, which I think is super fun:
And I like how the clear glass lets you see the rainbow rings underneath.
PLUS you get this delightful tinkly sound when you swish it around, like a little wind chime.
Of course these are glass, so be careful not to smash or crush them against anything too hard. They seem durable enough to clank against each other for gentle daily wear, though.
(I'll show you a few tricks for twisting the bulb wires at the end of this post.)
I still had a ton of lights left over when I finished the bracelet, so next I put together a quick matching necklace:
I scrounged up some leftover silver chain links for the center, and a length of anodized burgundy chain for the rest. (This is why it's nice to save the excess chain when you shorten a necklace!)
You can see a few of these bulbs have the inner scorch marks from when they burned out.
The necklace is a safer option if you're worried about bulbs breaking, but I still like the bracelet best for sheer drama:
Once you get the hang of making the bulb danglies, they only take about 30-40 seconds each. It's also an excellent mindless activity to keep your hands busy during another Stargate:Atlantis marathon. ;)
Once you pop the bulb out of the light strand, bend the two little base wires out:
Then slide off the plastic base.
Next, grip the very ends of the two wires with small pliers:
And use your free hand to twist the bulb:
Occasionally one of the wires will snap off at the base at this stage. If so, discard and start again with a new bulb; you need both wires for strength.
Use the pliers to finish off the very tip of the twist:
Then use round nose pliers to bend the twisted wire into a loop:
If you want to go the extra mile, try tucking the end into the tiny space between the two wires at the base. (I find this helps keep the loop closed.)
And you're done!
If you really yank that copper loop will pull apart, but overall I've found it's surprisingly strong, all things considered. And of course if you do lose one, they're easy to replace.
Hope I've inspired some crafty upcycling out there! I mean, just imagine the possibilities with colored lights. Ooooh. Aaaaaah. :)
If you're a fellow Pinterest user, please share!
*John's Safety Update: I was curious just how easily these break, so I put 10 in a little box and shook it. No broken bulbs. Then I shook it like crazy, and again, none of the bulbs broke. Finally, I shook it and banged it on the floor and scared my cats and one bulb broke. So yes, they are breakable. If you make a necklace, definitely don't do any head-banging against the floor.