Mother Earth Living

Try This: Plastic Jug Light Shade

Create a translucent window shade out of plastic jugs.
By Susan Wasinger
March/April 2006
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The triangular shapes make a strong graphic statement, but rectangles, circles or even amorphous shapes would also make for an intriguing shade.
Photo By Susan Wasinger

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Lite shade

Make a translucent shade out of plastic milk jugs that would otherwise find their way into the waste stream. The plastic is remarkably pretty when the light hits it, reminiscent of capiz shells. This simple, striking design is perfect for windows where you want a little privacy without blocking out light.

1. To make storing the jugs easier while you’re collecting them for your project, cut out the jug’s top, bottom and handle with scissors, leaving a flat piece of plastic that can be nested one within the other for efficient storage. To get the labels off the jugs, soak for at least 15 minutes in hot, soapy water; the labels should slide off easily.

2. We used about six milk jugs for our two-by-two-foot window. To make the template for the triangle shape, cut a piece of cardstock into a three-by-three–inch square, then cut it in half along the diagonal. Put a piece of rolled-up tape on the back of the template to stick it to the jug and cut its shape out of the plastic with scissors. Move the template around to get as many plastic triangles as you can out of each plastic sheet. We were able to get 10 to 12 out of each milk jug.

3. Rough up the surface of the plastic triangles with sandpaper so they diffuse the light almost like rice paper. Using a small hole-punch, pierce the plastic triangle at the top and center bottom. Small holes of less than 1/8 inch work best. You can find smaller diameter hole-punches at an office or stationary store.

4. String the triangles together to a length appropriate to your window using closed “S” hooks. We used 3/4–inch zinc-plated hooks. The edge of the plastic will just be able to fit in where the “S” doesn’t close completely. Use a larger “S” hook for the topmost triangle and slide it onto a small dowel.

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