Mother Earth Living

Try This: Plastic Cup Chandelier

Recycle plastic cups into this simple, scultptural hanging lamp.
By Susan Wasinger
May/June 2008
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This lamp looks stunning as a half-dome, but the audacious crafter with cups to spare could easily turn it into a sphere by adding to the simple pattern, one cup at a time.

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Next time you throw a party, don’t sweat the disposable plastic cups; recycle them into this deceptively simple, sculptural lamp instead. Stapling drink cups together forms this beautiful hemi-orb that has a muted, milk glass glow. The shape is reminiscent of beehives or bubbles.

1. Our light was made using about 120 plastic drink cups (we used 9-ounce cups, but any size would work). Wash and dry the cups, then staple two cups together side-by-side. Place the stapler deep into each cup, and staple as far back as possible. This holds the back of the cups together and begins forming the curved shape of the fixture.

2. Add a third cup in the "valley" between the first two.

3. Next, put a fourth cup into place and staple it to the cup next to it and to the one below it.

4. Keep adding cups in an alternating pattern until the two-tiered chain of cups is long enough to bend all the way around, into a large circle, and be stapled to itself. Begin adding the next row of cups. Make sure the rims of the cups in each new row are placed behind the rims of the previous row so a dome begins to take shape. Each new row will require fewer and fewer cups—the last row needs only about 11.

5. Use four 1/4-inch dowels to form a "collar" from which the light shade can be attached to a pendant light kit (available at most hardware stores). Thread the dowels through the spaces on either side of a cup as shown.

6. Be sure to use a compact fluorescent bulb in your new fixture (incandescents are flammable).

7. Trim the dowels so they show as much as you like.

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