I like to shop in resale and thrift stores for dishes, vintage glassware and surprise items. I've seen a lot of vintage lamps with large glass globes in various colors just sitting forlornly on the shelves and wondered what I could make with them, since they weren't very sellable as is. Then one day it hit me - Bird Bath base!
Next you will find my instructable for an easy Bird Bath using various pieces of glass and a pretty lamp base. Enjoy...
Step 1: Find a Lamp and Gather Some Glass Pieces
First you will need a vintage lamp with some colored glass in the design. You can find one at your nearby thrift or resale shop or at a garage or estate sale Shown is two different lamps that are suitable. I ended up using the first one, with the iridescent globe.
Next you need a shallow bowl, tray or dish made from glass. Again your resale or thrift store or garage or estate sale is a good source for glass with a pretty design and for colored glass. Your bowl should be about 24" diameter or whatever looks pleasing with your lamp. Also pick up a couple of glass dishes that stack nicely and look well together. Stay away from pieces that have a lot of intricate design that will not sit snugly with your other pieces.
I found this gorgeous vintage lamp with a large iridescent white globe. I already have a pretty good collection of glass serving pieces that would be perfect for a bird bath so I picked one with etched calla lilies.
Step 2: Gather Your Tools
I love my Dremel 4200 for cutting holes in glass. In fact, I'm on my second one. For this project I will use a Dremel 1/4" diamond drill bit with Dremel Cutting Oil.
I also need a pair of pliers, a pair of side cutters, Dremel Metal Cutting Wheel with EZ Lock adapter, Dremel Plastic cutting wheel with EZ Lock adapter and a good glue that is weather resistant and waterproof. Loctite and several others make good ones.
I sell my creations and have found out the hard way that no matter which glue I've used, they eventually fail, which is why I also drill holes and insert a rod to hold everything secure.
Disclaimer: I received NO compensation or recognition from Dremel while I was writing this Instructable. I have no ties or connection to Dremel or any of its employees. I'm entering a contest and hope to win a new Dremel but that hasn't happened during the time I wrote this lesson. I genuinely love my Dremel and use it often. I also have not received anything from Loctite for the above mention. I just happened to have a new tube available.
Step 3: Gather Your Safety Equipment
Since we will be drilling holes in glass you need at least a good pair of Safety Glasses. Your own prescription eyeglasses are not enough. Get a good pair and use them often. Sometimes I use a full face protector so that I'm not inhaling glass dust or getting glass dust on my face.
Wear a pair of gloves that have good gripping since glass gets slippery. Also wear a long sleeved shirt buttoned up to the collar when drilling glass.
I like to use ear plugs when I'm drilling. It's loud and high pitched and I want to keep what hearing I have.
Step 4: Additional Supplies
You will also need a stainless steel threaded rod that is 1/4" diameter and about 36" long.
I like to use rubber or soft plastic washers and 1/4" metal washers between the pieces of glass.The amount needed depends on how many pieces of glass you're stacking. Grab a dozen each - you can always use them for your next bird bath.
You also need nuts to fit on your threaded rod. Three should be enough. I forgot to photograph the nuts but you can see one threaded onto the end of the threaded rod.
I added a solar light to this bird bath. You can find those at your local hardware or big box store or dollar store for ,99.
Last but not least you need a topper - something pretty like the splashing bird votive holder I found. I've also used orphan glass lids that are colored or clear, angels, animals, fish, etc.
Step 5: Take Your Lamp Apart
Remove the lamp shade if your lamp has one. Next remove the harp by pushing up the metal thingeys and squeezing the edges of the harp together. Then lift up. Voila!
Turn your lamp upside down and remove the felted paper that covers the base opening. You won't need it again.
Use your side cutters or a pair of wire cutters to cut the cord. Make sure it isn't plugged in before you do this.
Go back to the top of the lamp. Pull up on the gold fixture. It should reveal a knot of cord wires. Pull them out of the lamp. Easy Peasy.
Step 6: Finish Taking Your Lamp Apart
There is a rod through the middle of the lamp with a threaded area at the top and the bottom. Unscrew the nut at the top using your pliers.
Lift up the pieces of your lamp off the rod then remove the rod from the base piece. Save the rod for another project.
Step 7: Put the Lamp Parts on the Stainless Steel 1/4" Rod
Wash and dry your pieces carefully.
I plan to re-stack the lamp parts the way they were for this design. Using your stainless steel 1/4" threaded rod place a plastic or rubber washer, metal washer and a 1/4" nut on the end of the rod.
Finger tighten another 1/4" nut just above the base piece. See the first picture.
Starting with the base, stack the lamp parts on the 1/4" rod. Add washers and a nut any place where your parts close around the rod.
Step 8: Drill Holes in Your Glass Pieces
Using your Dremel, 1/4" diamond drill bit and Dremel Cutting Oil drill a centered hole in all the glass pieces that aren't already open. For instance, the large white globe on my lamp has a wide opening so I can leave it as is.
I start with a drop of cutting oil then carefully lower my Dremel bit to create a circle in the glass. I add a drop of oil frequently to keep the area lubricated, which cools the glass and reduces the friction between the glass and the drill bit.
Some people put glass under water to keep it cool while drilling. Others use a drill press and have to rig up a way to cool their glass with water, like spraying it with water or immersing it. I never had any luck with the water cool or the drill press method of drilling glass. I broke a lot of pretty glass and spent hours at the drill press.
That's one of the reasons I love my Dremel 4200. I can drill holes in glass in minutes and I rarely break a piece of glass. I just wish Dremel sold the cutting oil separately because my diamond drill bits last longer then the oil that comes with it.
Step 9: Stack the Pieces With Your Drilled Holes - Glue If You Like
I chose this small wavey edge glass bowl to go upside down between the lamp part and my bird bath piece, just because it looked nice. Add a metal washer and a rubber washer to the threaded rod then stack that baby on your threaded rod,adding another metal washer and rubber washer.
Glue the glass bowl to the lamp part if you want. I chose not to use glue in this bird bath because the pieces fit together so well and the balance was so good. If I was stacking more glass on glass pieces I would have added a good glue.
Step 10: Add Your Chosen Bird Bath Piece
Add your large glass bowl or platter for the actual bird bath.
You don't want a piece too deep here. Look around at the birds in your yard. They're bathing in shallow puddles. They don't want to swim. If you've chosen a deep bowl add something to make it shallow - a plate, a pretty lid, an upside down dish. Whatever you have that looks good.
Use the metal and rubber washers both under your bird bath dish and on top. You'll see why in a minute.
If you're using glue add it to the bird bath dish before you put it on top of the dish below it. Follow the directions on the glue. If I'm using glue I will often wait a day or so for the glue to set up before I move my creation again.
Step 11: Add Your Topper
The topper not only looks pretty on top of the bird bath glass, it also covers the washers, lets me add a snug washer and a solar light.
Your topper will need to have a hole drilled into it if you've chosen something like I did, with a votive candle place. On top of your threaded rod, after you've placed your drilled topper, place a metal washer and a rubber washer.
If you chose something big like a pretty glass lid as your topper you will need to add your washers and a 1/4" nut finger tightened on top of the bird bath piece. Follow the instructions in the next step to cut the threaded rod.
Step 12: Cut Off Excess Threaded Rod
Using your wonderful Dremel set up with the EZ Lock adapter and a Dremel Metal Cutting Wheel cut off the excess threaded rod.
First, put on your safety glasses, long sleeved shirt and gloves. This will send sparks flying all over the place and they sting if they get your arm or hand.
I couldn't cut off my rod inside the candle holder so I marked where to cut on the rod, removed it from the bird bath and then cut it off. After that I replaced the cut down rod through all the pieces, including the washers.
Make sure you have a nut attached to the part that remains before you cut the rod off because you won't be able to thread it on afterward.
Then finger tighten a 1/4" nut onto the rod and snug it down with the pliers. Don't put any muscle into it or you'll crack your glass. Just make it snug.
Step 13: Prepare the Solar Light
Remove the long metal sleeve from the clear plastic housing. Just twist and remove.
Remove the clear plastic "globe" from the light holder by twisting slightly and pulling of..
Place the plastic "globe" in your top piece. Mine was a little taller than I wanted so I needed to cut down the clear plastic piece.
Mark the plastic where you want it cut off.
Pull out your Dremel with the EZ Lock Adaptor and a Wheel for cutting plastic. Put on your safety mask or safety glasses and slice the excess plastic off.
You can glue the clear plastic into place if you want. I chose not to because I think it will be easier to clean my glass pieces if they're not glued down. Just place the clear plastic piece, attached to the bulb and solar collector, into the well on back of the bird - where the votive would normally be placed. .
Pull out the orange tab when you're ready to use the bird bath. I hope to sell mine so I'll wait so the buyer gets a fresh solar light.
Step 14: Options
Time to repeat the disclaimer. I received NO compensation from Dremel for making this Instructable. I own the Dremel used in this lesson and use it often. I find it the most versatile tool I have. Again, I received NO compensation or recognition writing this lesson from Dremel. I plan to enter this Instructable in a contest and possibly win a new Dremel but that hasn't happened now.
I've made many Bird Baths. Some use lamp bases. Others use various glass pieces like bowls, plates, vases, glasses and candle sconces. It's fun to build a tower of various glass pieces then anchor them with a wide, heavy glass light fixture, microwave plate, or bowl to keep them from tipping over. Drill through the pieces and insert a threaded rod and anchor with nuts and washers. Or glue each piece to the next. Or do both to ensure your creation stays together. Next Instructable I'll show you how to make a bird bath tower of all glass pieces.
Thanks for viewing my lesson. Now go out there and create some beautiful Bird Baths. And share your pictures with me.
Runner Up in the
Glass Challenge 2017