02 March 2010

The Process of Creating: Lightbulb Vases

My favorite redesigning idea is my Lightbulb Vase from the Clear Thinking series I've started which is comprised of ideas for recycling lightbulbs.

I started with a burnt out lightbulb. It was the soft white type. I had found an article online that showed a detailed process of how to hollow and clean an incandescent lightbulb and used it to help me with my first lightbulb.

I carefully hollowed it out with my pliers and a small screwdriver, then cleaned it by swishing some sand around the inside of the bulb. After rinsing it thoroughly, I let it dry as I brain hurricaned a way to make it stand upside down freely. I did not really ever like the wire idea (though some look pretty neat-o), so I was thinking more along the lines of something glued on the bottom..
I used a nickel the first time. Hot glued it to the center of the top (now bottom) of the lightbulb.
After a little thought, I realized if I planned to make several of these, a nickel may not be the best idea...
So I went to my Dad's toolbox and found a washer when I made my second vase. It worked marvelously! When I showed him my creation, he said he had some larger washers at the shop that I could use, and those worked even more wonderfully!

So after critiquing my design, I made a listing on my Etsy and have sold three since January! My vase also has over 300 views and has been hearted over 20 times! It excites me that it has received so much attention.

I will experiment with different lightbulb sizes for different uses. I have a smaller lightbulb I made into an ink well of sorts (well, it's more of a pen rest, or pen home). I really like it and hope it becomes equally popular as the vase.
I recently chanced upon two burnt out frosted glass lightbulbs that are the same size as my standard lightbulb vases... I'll have to put up a listing for them.

Have any ideas, tips, or tricks for recycling or redesigning lightbulbs?

And incidentally... If you attempt to hollow out a lightbulb yourself, please, PLEASE wear eye protection and wrap the lightbulb in a towel while you're working with it to make sure you don't cut your hands (or make a huge mess) if the lightbulb breaks.


  1. Beautiful idea!

    Green kisses

  2. Hi Star, just letting you know that I posted about your fantastic idea on my blog (agirlcallede.blogspot.com), and it has been quite a popular post.
    Love love love this little vase. Brilliant!

  3. Awww, thanks, Liz!! I am honored by your blog feature. :)

  4. I just saw your Betta in a lightbulb on Etsy. You absolutely cannot keep a fish in something that small. Honestly, it's not humane.

    How often do you advise people to change the water?

    Why don't you just stick to the vase idea, which is really unique. If you actually keep a Betta in there I hope you'll consider taking it out.

  5. In response to Dee's comment, you can keep a betta in a very small space. Haven't you seen the containers they live in the pet store. Now the small normal size is a little small but the bigger vase shown is probably a better idea.

  6. The pet store is no measure for sizes of cages or aquariums! I agree with Dee. This is a very bad idea! Round bowls in general are pretty but not suitable for fish!
    I really like the vases, though!

  7. Just wanted to say...I love this idea!!!!

  8. I LOVE this vase idea!!! What kind of plant can you put in there that grows roots?

  9. @ Anonymous #2:
    Most houseplants grow roots after a short while. Bamboo works wonderfully!

  10. Really people read up on a subject before criticizing. A Betta fish lives in shallow water in a rice patty. Sure it would like a bit more room but this lovely bulb would do as long as the water was changed once a week. I think this bulb is a awesome idea! Would be cool to keep on a office desk. Just imagine the attention it would get.

  11. I do love the repurposed lightbulbs, and your other items but I have to say that I much prefer using them as vases rather than fishbowls. I would ask you to reconsider this item as encouraging people to keep an animal in such a confined space is something I consider irresponsible (and pet shops should know better).

    Please don't take this personally, I just think that a large number of your potential customers may feel the same way I do.

    In response to Lycoris...
    While betas can *survive* in a shallow pool of water when the rice paddys dry out, they do not *thrive* under these conditions. There are also other considerations when caring for fish - correct water changing procedure, maintaining a consistent water temperature, surface area of water etc. which smaller containers don't allow for. Just because fish can't express their dislike of their environment, doesn't mean they should be treated as a fashion accessory. You wouldn't keep a dog in a box barely big enough to turn around in just because you thought it looked cute, would you?

  12. These are lovely for plants, very effective, but I really, really urge you *not* to sell them as betta containers. It's absolutely inhumane.

    Yes, bettas live in rice paddies. Paddies which can be very deep and hold large volumes of water. Bettas are also great jumpers and will leap from one puddle to another. They do like space! They are also tropical fish and need heated water. 3 gals should be the absolute minimum size container.

  13. Please do not suggest people keep fish in a container this small. The idea that bettas live in very small amounts of water is a misconception. Each fish should have at least a gallon of water: http://www.healthybetta.com/betta-care-for-beginners.

    Yes, they can "live," but it is not optimal or humane to make them do so. They are sold in cups in pet stores because they are shipped in cups. Dogs and cats are kept in cages there, but it would be inhumane to keep a dog or cat in a cage for its entire life.

    These containers are innovative and beautiful, but should only be used for plants, not fish. There is nowhere for the fish to hide, and such a small amount of water would change temperature very quickly and need frequent water changes. This will cause a fish great stress and shorten their lives.

    Please reconsider. It does not good for the environment to recycle a light bulb if you harm an animal in the process.

  14. i wanted to say that your lightbulb fishbowl idea is neat, but it is actually inhumane. tho they come in those tiny cups in the store it doesn't mean they should live like that. please try something larger.

  15. DO NOT sell any more of your fishbowls PLEASE.
    consumers do not think about if they should or should not keep fish in tiny bowls. specially if you are selling them to them and telling them it is ok to do so. they cannot survive in tiny spaces for long. why do you think there are always dead betta's in those tiny cups in the stores? my betta is in a gallon fish container with filtered water. even then i feel i may get him something bigger. fish need space and places to hide. not a tiny round bowl that would warp their view of everything.

  16. DO NOT sell any more of your lightbulb fishbowls PLEASE! a fish can not survive in containers so small. consumers will not think about whether or not they should keep a fish in something so small when someone is telling them it is ok and to do so. i know they come in those tiny cups in the stores, but don't you notice the dead ones pushed to the back? its terrible! fish need space, and places to hide, plants to swim through. not a tiny round bowl to warp their view of the outside. PLEASE keep to the PLANT vase ideas, those are really nice.

    Hey everyone,
    It has been brought to my attention that my Repurposed Lightbulb Beta Fishbowl was seen to some as inhumane due to its small size. In respect to those people and to the little fishies, I apologize and have decided to remove the fishbowl from my shop and relist it as just a vase.
    Thank you for all your messages of concern,

  18. Thank you Star - good decision :)

  19. The vase is nice, but to keep a living creature in someting that small is cruel. Your description says the bulb is 8 cm at the widest point. That is about 3-1/8 inches. You should be ashamed.

  20. Thank you for doing the right thing. :)

  21. I'm confused. You said you were removing it from etsy....
    yet its right here: http://www.etsy.com/view_listing.php?listing_id=44251755

  22. @ Margaret
    It is deactivated now. Sorry about that.

  23. Everyone needs to lighten up. Keep up the creativity. Don't let all the flack get to you.

  24. @Lycoris: It appears to be a common misconception that "shallow water" means "tiny container". You can see what a rice paddy looks like here: http://www.betta-fish-care.net/betta-fish-care-101.php - or just do an image search. They're shallow, but quite large.

    Pet stores do sell small, often quart-sized containers labelled as "perfect for bettas". Unfortunately, that's just because people will buy them - not because they are actually suitable.

  25. hi,
    I totally loved your work..on etsy..I have posted an article..on my blog..pls check http://ethnicindianhome.blogspot.com/

  26. saw the fish lightbulbs on etsy today, still up eh?

  27. Congrats on being in Etsy finds again- I see you're still selling the lightbulb fish tanks. I thought you were going to stop?

  28. I just want to ask the folks who are so busy being negative what use they have made of their time this week that was positive and creative. How many people do you believe will take the time to put a fish in the light bulb. It is an amazing idea, and get a grip people. Go build a well in Africa or help the people in Haiti, A pessimist complains about the wind, an optimist believes it will change, a leader adjusts the sails. Do somthing today!

  29. Disgusting to put fishes in it;

    Don't you have any compassion for animals?
    They're already having a hard time on this planet!

    Free all animals, treat them the way you like to be treated!

  30. Omg this makes me sick! How could you possible think this is friendly to a animal? Animals are not here for our entertainment they are not that much different from us. They want to live just as much as we do, can experience pain and suffer just like human. How would you feel if you've got kept in a tiny cage, so tiny you will be having a hard time just turning your ass around, al alone waiting for your time to come. We are not god we have no right to treat animals this way. This is just medieval you should feel ashamed of yourself! There is nothing creative at putting a fish in a light bulb absolutely nothing! I think it takes a morans mind to do something like this in the first place and a morans mind to approve of this.
    I'll hope for the sake of animals you will change your ways...

  31. @Sharon

    You are an idiot. People who are being negative ARE trying to make a change, and not to use their creativity to harm defensless animals.

  32. To crazy to be true!!!

    Imagine you had to live in such a small place...
    Its a crazy world!!!

  33. Another one. You are a sick person if you mean to sell this and want all this attention. You are a really fanatic sel fish man. Totally not succeeded in this life and not worth living. Burn in hell asshole.

  34. Burn in hell asshole? really "carro"? grow up.

    You guys can all get upset that what she is doing is mean to the fish but she wasn't intentionally hurting the fish. So chill.

  35. Dear Star,

    Please please please don't promote the light bulb as a 'fish bulb', it is way too small for a fish and they will die very soon when they are locked in this 'cage'. Imagine you were put in such a small environment, with little or no room to move and to breathe. For the sake of the animals, please only use the bulb for plants and other things. It is not true that goldfish have a memory of 3 seconds or that they don't feel pain.

    Please have a heart and remove the reference to fish on your website. I would very much appreciate it.


    Yours sincerely,

    Saskia Oskam
    Representative political Party for the Animals the Netherlands

  36. Awesome idea! I think I'm going to try this for a plant in my house! Thanks!


  37. I feel sick that you've been touting these things as fish bowls. Fish having a 10 second memory IS A MYTH. The temperature in those 'bowls' would fluctuate madly, as well as fill up with crap very quickly. Fish like to swim around and explore for food, as well as have places to hide. Most small fish are naturally prey to other fish, and so sitting in an open space with nowhere to hide is stressful for them. I think it would take a very cold-hearted or stupid person to keep a live animal in such terrible condidtions.

  38. I love the idea of repurposing a lightbulb. There are some really opinionated responses here that are not appropriate. Fish can be in small containers although a regular lightbulb would be too small. Fish do not have a memory to know where they were a second ago. They have no idea that a bowl is a confind area. What about larger bulbs? I'm sure there is an option that can be used for fish as well as recycle. That being said, I love the vase idea! I'm going to put my own spin on it and see how it turns out!