Introduction: DIY Flicker Lamp or Electric Candle
This is a very easy, cheap project that uses easy-to-find materials. It requires no special skills or tools. Once you have the base completed, you can quickly make customized "shades" for any occasion.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
For this project you'll need:
1. One extension cord. You need the type that has a flat end with three outlets. There is usually one outlet on one side and two on the other; the bottom two can be covered with an attached safety plug thing. Check out the photo to see what I'm talking about.
2. One glass ashtray. Mine came from Wal-Mart and is made by Anchor Hocking. The extension cord's business end needs to fit inside the ashtray as shown.
3. A plug-in light bulb socket. It's just what it looks like; you plug it into an outlet and screw in a bulb. I can't remember where I got it but it was probably at a hardware store.
4. A flicker bulb. These are in the candelabra bulb section and run about $3 each. They have two flat plates inside them that make an orange, flickery light, and they use 3-7 watts. Do NOT use a regular candelabra bulb. Regular bulbs throw off a lot of heat and could become a fire hazard.
5. Florist's tacky putty. You can get this in the floral section. It comes in rolls and is usually green. Don't try to use Sticky Tack (the stuff you use to stick posters to the wall). It's not strong enough. You could probably use duct tape if you can't find the putty.
6. One sheet of decorative 12 x 12 scrapbook paper. You might want to get an extra sheet, just in case.
7. Clear tape, ruler, and scissors
Step 2: Make the Base
First we'll make the base for the lamp. This will take less than two minutes. Do NOT plug in your extension cord yet!
Insert the safety cover on the extension cord to cover the bottom two outlets, which we won't be needing. Press a wad of florist's putty into the ashtray, and a smaller piece into one of the channels that are supposed to hold a cigarette.
Place the extension cord's end into the ashtray with the cord part extending through the channel. Push down firmly. Finally, push in the light bulb socket.
Step 3: Make the Shade
To make a shade, cut a 12 x 7 piece of scrapbook paper. Then cut a 2 x 6 piece from the leftover section. If you wrap the larger piece around your lamp base, you'll see that the edges are about 1/2" short of meeting. Tape on the 2 x 6" piece to fill the gap. I taped mine on the inside and outside to be sure it stayed put. Yes, there will be a 1" hole at the bottom - this is intentional.
Low-tack masking tape can help you hold the tube's shape until you can get the stronger tape on. It will also let you slide it over the base to check the fit. If you are using cardstock-type paper, you may need to gently shape the tube so the top part is circular. The part where the insert and tape are will be the back of your lamp, so it won't matter much if it's not perfect.
If you're feeling really crafty, I'm sure you will come up with lots of variations of shades for the base. You could use vellum for a nice effect. Rubber stamping, powder embossing, eyelets, pinhole patterns, cloth, ribbon, trim... you get the idea.
Step 4: Put It Together
Gently screw in your flicker lightbulb. Do not overtighten it.
Plug in your lamp and place the shade on it to test the fit. If necessary, trim the bottom of the insert so the shade can be placed flush with the table. Voila!
Be careful using this around small children, who could pull it off a table, shatter the bulb and get a nasty shock. Of course, they could do that with any lamp. But still.
I hope you enjoy doing this as much as I did!