After playing around with the bottles and trying out different things I suddenly had the idea of simply fixing the bottles together at their neck with rubber bands, thereby creating a sphere.
This is the key idea and you're probably good to go on your own from there, but let me share some things I learned in the following steps to make it easier and the result more satisfying for you.
The whole lamp easy to build and doesn't take long to make once you collected and cleaned all these bottles. You'll have an interesting looking lamp for not much effort and time/money investment.
With a medium bright bulb the lamp makes for a great ambient decorating lamp. In the immediate proximity you can still see light spots from where the light shines directly through the bottle ends but this evens out quickly, so it can be used as a ceiling light as well. I plan to turn it into a reading / couch light by building a stand for it.
Step 1: Materials & Tools Needed
- about 50 - 60 plastic bottles (I used half a liter bottles but i guess you can use big ones as well). See the next step for preparation / collection tips.
- standard lamp fixture
- standard CFL lamp (I used a medium bright one)
- about 150 - 200 rubber bands (the usual bulk collection of different diameters you can buy at the office supply store is fine, but for optimal results you might have to buy more than one of these since you might not be able to use all of them).
Tools (for preparing the bottles)
- a sharp knife
- 'cleaning gasoline' / soap / label remover (depending on the labels - see next step)
- lots of tissues
Step 2: Collecting and Preparing the Bottles
You will probably use the bottles from your own daily use or from a salvage them from a recycling collection. I decided to not just collect a single kind but what i could get. One important point is to avoid bottles that are tinted blue. They make a cold light (unless, of course, that's what you want). I ended up using one banana box full of bottles (see below).
Removing the labels:
Most of the bottles that I used had a label made of plastic that came off best with something that goes as 'cleaning gasoline' in German speaking countries. Basically a very light gasoline, which helped clean off the glue residue quite well and which can be bought at pharmacies and drug stores. The commercial label removers did not work, so did normal water and soap. I just put some of it on a tissue and used it to rub off left-over glue.
I also found out that the labels come off more easily if you don't let the bottles sit around for too long before cleaning them. It could be that you then have dried beverage residues that are also hard to get out.
After that i washed them and put them out to dry completely. At this step you can also remove the small ring of the seal with a knife.
Step 3: Assembly
- Start by pulling a rubber band around the neck of the first bottle, sling it around a couple of times (depending on the strength of the rubber band) and then stick the next bottle's neck through, such that the rubber band forms an '8' around the two bottles. Make sure the rubber band is completely below the ring that separates the thread of the cap from the rest of the bottle, securing the rubber band from slipping off again.
- Take the next bottle and connect it with these rubber band '8s' to the first two.
- Continue like this, always connecting the new bottle to the adjacent ones by a rubber band each. A sphere starts to form automatically. The pictures should give you an idea what it should look like.
A few words of advice:
- Don't make the rubber band connections too loose. If you want to hang the lamp from the ceiling, the rubber bands will have to have to carry some weight, which will deform the sphere or it will fall apart.
- It might be more easy if you put the rubber bands around the new bottle first and then slide it around the necks of the already fixed ones.
- It is a good idea to have the rubber band slung completely around each bottle neck at least once.
At the very last, you can add the fixture with the bulb, just like you would add the last bottle, but with extra tight rubber bands to all the neighboring bottles. You should end up with a reasonably stable ball that you can easily hold up by the power cable.