Thinking Outside the Box (Creative Garden Recycling)

I’m excited about this post.   During the summer, I made my first trip to a local thrift store not far from my home.  You know how it goes, you’re looking for one thing, but come home with something completely different.  Well, that’s what happened to me.

I found this.  Cost was $3.00:


You’re probably thinking, “What will she do with that?”  I didn’t know.  I just knew I’d use it in the garden in some form or fashion.  (Full disclosure:  For some reason, I am hugely attracted to old light fixtures and lamps. If they’re cheap, I can hardly pass them up.)

Anyway, this single bulb ceiling fixture dates from the 1920’s or 30’s, and currently, they are kind of illegal (against electrical code) because they don’t have a cage around the light bulb, and therefore are a potential fire hazard….not that this matters to me.  If I’d wanted to install this fixture in my 1930’s house, I would, but I didn’t.

(Here’s a similar one I found on-line.  The price is outrageous.)

Two months after finding this fixture, I previewed a friend of a friend’s estate sale and came home with some wonderful loot (large concrete planters for $15/each, petrified wood, metal baskets, long pieces of cast iron fencing, all sorts of plant bulbs, etc.) While there, I spied an old lamp shade on top of junk headed for the dump.

The cloth on the shade was rotten and torn and the metal frame was badly rusted as it had been outside for a few years.

I looked at the shade and said to the estate sale guy, “What are you gonna’ do with that?”  He answered, “You want it?”  Of course, I did.  I just didn’t want to pay for it.  He gave it to me for free.


I brought the shade home, peeled off the cloth, and then it sat for a bit.  I should say that this shade was actually TWO shades attached to each other.  I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.  A smaller shade (pictured above) was attached to the top of a larger shade.  Here’s a photo of what this kind of lamp shade would have looked like in its prime.

Okay, so sometimes it takes a while to come up with an insanely brilliant idea (joking here) for re-using JUNK.  Just like beef stew that tastes better the day after it’s cooked, the creative brain needs time to sit and let the juices mix to figure out the best way to create something.  And the real truth is there are times when the process takes years. ~ Grin ~  In this case, however, it took 3 months.

Next, I ordered this.   And no, I don’t receive compensation for showing you what I order on Amazon.

Lucky, lucky me.  Why?

For one thing, the ceramic light bulb socket that came with the light fixture could be turned around so the bulb faced in the other direction.  Secondly, the solar bulb I ordered screwed into that socket perfectly.  Third, the smaller lamp shade fit into the light fixture base as if they were made for each other.

The only issue was I needed a way to attach the wire shade frame to the light fixture.  Use wire?  Use a specialty screw?

I ended up buying these J-bolts and added washers to them because the lamp shade needed to fit snugly up against the light fixture.  The J-bolts fit through the two holes meant to bolt the light fixture into the ceiling.


Below is everything un-assembled. (I spray painted all lamp parts, except for the solar light components, black.)


Here is the homemade outdoor solar lamp put together:


I needed to protect the solar panel from large hail stones, so I wrapped it with hardware cloth, which also made it easier to hang.  (Ralph, if you’re reading this, you’re right as ALWAYS.–Of course I meant to call it “rabbit wire.”  Ralph is a handyman I’ve used who drives me nuts.  He corrects everything I say.  Oh, I forgot, he will never read this blog so I don’t have to worry. SO it’s called HARDWARE CLOTH and NOT rabbit wire!!!! Ha-ha-ha!)  Sorry folks for that brief moment of Ralph-induced insanity.


Above is the hardware cloth I used.

Below is a photo of my bare arbor with the new solar shade.  The photo makes it look as if it’s hanging crooked, but it’s not.

I have the antique rose, Crepescule, growing on one side of the arbor, but it’s only been in the ground for 9 months, so it’s not grown up the arbor yet.  My hope is I can hide the sides of the solar panel & wiring with the rose’s leaves.  I admit I may need to tweak it a bit.




I’m pleased with my creation.  Once the rose covers the arbor, it should look much better.  Oh, and I tested the light, and it works!!!!

Here’s one more link to a woman who made a business out of recycling wire lamp shades.

Happy gardening!











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