Illuminated Texts




Ok, that is a pretty bad pun. But also accurate! I made the first set of these lamps for a cocktail party I had a couple months ago, and I've been making more ever since. These lamps are easy, fast, cheap and don't require many tools. Oh, and they're also a great way for me to get rid of some of my saved up liquor bottles and leftover holiday lights.

Here's what you'll need:

An empty bottle without, or with only a small, lip
A hardcover book
A string of lights
An exacto or utility knife
A pencil
Thick, quick drying glue, e.g. UHU
Goo gone, if you want to remove your label

The lamp should take under two hours from start to finish.

Step 1: Prepping Your Bottle

I've made these both with and without labels. If you'd like to remove yours, I'd suggest running the bottle under warm water and using a metal scraping tool. Once the paper is mostly gone you can rub off the sticky stuff with a bit of goo gone on a paper towel. Make sure the bottle is pretty dry before moving on to the next step.

Step 2: Planning Your Cuts

Before you start cutting it's important to plan where you want your bottle and battery pack or controller (if you're using lights that have them) should be located. Your bottle will require a hole in the top cover. I suggest choosing an off center location, leaving room to use the open part of the book to display some nice tchotchke. The hole for the batteries or controller will go in the other side, but should be near or adjacent to your hole. Sketch out your cuts in pencil. Also, keep in mind that your book needs to be thick enough to sufficiently anchor your bottle and fit your battery pack or controller.

Step 3: Cutting the Cover(s)

Carefully trace the pencil marks with your knife in several passes using medium pressure. These are the only cuts that will be visible, so take the most care with them. You can be much more cavalier with your others. Book covers are generally dense and pretty thick so this could take some time and effort.

Step 4: Cutting the Pages

The bottle in this example, unfortunately, has a large lip. This means that I have to treat the bottle hole a bit differently. Normally I would cut a square slightly large than the circle to the depth I'm interested in. In this case I'm cutting only very shallowly, to the bottom of the lip, so I cut exactly with the circle.

Once the bottle hole is complete, cut a small channel for the cord. If you don't have a battery pack, just cut straight through to an edge of the book, otherwise cut towards the location of the pack. The channel should start at the center of the base of the bottle hole, leaving enough clearance for the cord to fit under the bottom of the bottle when its inserted.

Finally, cut a cavity for the batter pack along the same lines as the back cover hole.

Step 5: Threading in the Lights

With the book open the bottom of the bottle hole, place the battery pack in its cavity (or thread the cord in from outside the book). Pull the string of lights out through the hole in the front cover. You may want to secure the pack with a bit of glue or tape.

Thread the lights into the bottle. If your bottle has a narrow neck you may need to help press the bulbs in using the pencil. Fill your bottle with the entire string, bringing the mouth of the bottle near the hole.

Step 6: Inserting the Bottle

Carefully insert the bottle in its hole and adjust until it lies flat and in the orientation you want. If your cut, like mine, is shallow add glue in a thin line along the outside. If the hole is deeper, open the book slightly and add glue from underneath. Wait for the glue to dry.

Step 7: All Done!

Your lamp is complete! Just plug it in or turn it on. Here are a few that I've made using a variety of books, bottles and lights.



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8 Discussions


6 years ago on Introduction

Made one of these after seeing this. Thanks for the great project!


7 years ago on Introduction

I love this! I've been saving a couple of nice looking bottles including maker's Mark for no reason! Now I have one. This project got me to sign up for this site! thanks.


7 years ago on Introduction

Very cool. Where do I get a battery pack controller and did you have to cut the end of the cord off the lights and wire to the battery pack? How do you turn on/off?

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

I got an LED string attached to a battery pack at Target, but you can buy them many places. I think the brand was Phillips. The hole in the bottom allows access to the switch. I've also used regular LED strings with control boxes. They get bottom-holes too so you can switch mode, and a channel out of the book for the cord.

Most regular string lights have a female plug at the end so they can be extended. If you look at the last bulb in the string you'll often see three wires entering it instead of two. That means the circuit is completed at that point and you can cut off the female plug and seal the ends without destroying your string.

You should NOT have to cut and rejoin wires for this project.

Hope that helps!


7 years ago on Introduction

They look great. Make sure you use LED lights, incandescents waste too much energy, and that's going to be in the form of heat. Not good.


7 years ago on Introduction

Gosh....You Drink Classy. The Liquor store looked at me funny when i bought a case of Natty Light!
Great project


7 years ago on Introduction

These are gorgeous! I'd switch out the main photo with one of the photos on seventh step so people get a better idea of the finished project. :)