September 18, 2011

Vase into Mercury Glass Pendent Light [West Elm Inspired]

I am always looking for ways to spice up and personalize our condo, although I'm somewhat limited because we're renting right now. Sometimes people forget they can change out the lighting when they rent. It's an easy change, just make sure you're not doing anything that will damage the existing fixture or the ceiling and you can easily take it back out when you move. 

For this project I was inspired by these cylinder pendent lights from Rogan Objects. They're priced at 500-700 bucks(!!), are made of hand blown glass and look pretty fantastic {and pretty expensive}

West Elm is selling these "antique" glass jars.  These babies will set you back 100 bucks.  I love the color gray glass and the visible light bulbs inside them.

My plan was to create a combination of both these looks. Here's what I did. I started with a brand new vase. First things first, we need to make the hole in the vase for the cord to come out of.

DRILL THE HOLE: What you will need

  • glass vase
  • diamond tip drill bit (available at home improvement store, cost $5)
  • electric drill
  • spray bottle with water
  • goggles
  • rubber gloves
  • 220 grit sand paper
  • permanent marker
  • measuring tape

  1. Measure and mark the exact center of the bottom of the vase with permanent marker.
  2. Suit up in some protective gear. eHow- says to put on long sleeved shirt, goggles, and wear rubber gloves. So, I did that. Pretty quickly I took off the long sleeved shirt because one, it was hot outside, and two, there weren't any shards of glass flying anywhere, at all, the whole time. But I kept the goggle on, don't mess around with your eyes!
  3. Grab your new drill bit, a drill, and a spray bottle. 
  4. You're going to drill a hole though the glass and this will be where the cord passes through. At Home Depot they only had one size drill bit for glass, but it was plenty big enough for the cord to be threaded through.  


  • *When you drill, you want the surface to be wet the whole time. Lubricating the tip keeps the glass from breaking and helps the tip last longer. 
  • *Place your vase on a flat surface, so that it will be supported equally on all sides the entire time.
  •  *If you're drilling though a thick glass surface you can use a high drill speed, but start on a slow speed either way.
  • *Be careful to hold the drill firmly, but don't apply pressure. Allow the drill's weight to do the work.
  • *Make sure to hold the drill straight up and down so the hole is straight, otherwise the lamp will hang crooked.
  • {note: This is the same procedure you would follow to drill through ceramic, porcelain, and pottery. Just in case you want to turn all your household items into lamps!} Getting the drill to bite into the glass was the hardest part of drilling because you don't want the drill to slip and nick up the glass. Also, the shape of the bottom of my vase helped the water to pool to the center and made it easy to keep the drill bit lubricated. During most of the drilling, I would only spray the hole every minute or two.

(4) Grab a friend to help. When your drill tip starts to reach through the glass to the other side, you will need to spray water on the hole every few seconds since it'll keep draining right through to the other side. You can easily hear the difference between drilling with water and without. At this point it's smart to stop and have someone help you. 
Have one person spray the hole almost constantly and hold the vase steady while the other holds the drill with both hands making sure to support most of the drills weight and go slowly. This should help from chipping the glass at the very end when it will be weak.

5. Keep your gloves on and sand the edges of the glass hole with 220 grit sandpaper. Make sure everywhere but the hole is covered in tape, so you don't scratch the glass anywhere else. Keep the gloves on to clean up all the water and thoroughly wipe down the vase. 


Krylon's "Looking Glass" spray paint (cheapest @ Michael's, cost $7 with 40% off coupon)
  • painter's tape
  • newspaper
(6) Follow my directions to make mercury glass. The only thing I did differently was the number of coats I applied. I only did three LIGHT coats because I wanted the light to easily pass through and wanted a mottled looking finish.

INSTALLING THE LIGHT: What you will need

  • lighting kit (cheapest @ Ikea, cost $5)
  • ceiling medallion (home improvement store, cost $5)
  • electrical tape
  • 60 watt light bulb

(7) Take down your existing light fixture and disconnect the electrical from it.

In my case I took down a recessed light.

(8) Put your new pendant light together. Thread the lighting kit wire through your new pendent light/glass vase, through the top of the vase and out the new hole in the bottom. I added a piece from another light to the new top, to make it look more like a light. 

(9) Thread the cord through the ceiling medallion of your choice. I chose the cheapest option, a silver 6 inch medallion purchased for 5$ from Home Depot. This will cover the hole in your ceiling left from the removal of the old light.

(10) Connect the electrical wires for your new light.  There's a positive and negative wire for both the light and the electrical in the ceiling. They are usually color coded, black and white, one for each charge. It's a matter of matching up colors. In the photo you can see the black wires coming down from the ceiling, them tape, then black wire coming up from the light fixture.
Use the electrical tape the cover all the exposed wire.

(11) Secure the lighting kit cord somewhere in the ceiling using the hooks that came in the package with the light kit.  {There's directions that come in the light kit. If you have questions.} The hooks will support the weight of the light fixture, instead of the electrical wire holding it up- which would be bad. **Amended, we took off the electrical tape, per a reader's suggestion, and crimped the wires instead. 

(11) Attach the medallion to the ceiling using the hardware that came in the package. There's directions in the package and it looks easy to do. I ran into a bit of trouble with this step. Because I took out a recessed light, rather than a normal light fixture, the hole in the ceiling was over 7 inches wide. I would need a second larger medallion to cover a hole that big and it would have to be layered with the smaller one. Like these:

However, I had no way to affix them to the ceiling without leaving a mark when it was time to take it down. So instead, I used glue to secure the medallion directly to the recessed light. It's a rubbery glue that holds well, but when you pull the items apart and break the seal, it will easily come off without leaving a trace.  Before popping the recessed light housing back into place in the ceiling, I secured the lighting cord on the hooks I attached the the light housing, as can be seen two pictures up.

Unfortunately, I was left with two holes where the medallion was supposed to be attached to the ceiling with screws.

So I used upholstery nails left over from my headboard project. I used a toothbrush to brush Rub 'n Buff silver wax on the brass tacks. They matched well enough.

(12) Now, put the bulb in and you're all set!

All said, this was an afternoon's worth of work. A bit longer for me though, since I didn't know what materials would be needed ahead of time. You know how it goes when you're winging it, right?

 Here's the BEFORE

 And the AFTER

Here's a close up, with the light on. There's a lot of variation to the mirror finish.

The cord is beginning to hang straighter, the longer it's up. It's still a little wavy from being folded in the package. I love how you see the bulb and light assembly through the glass. It's exactly what I was going for!

What about you? Have you made your own light fixture lately? Made up a project on the spot and have to improvise? Or run to the store 25 times?



  1. This is a really fabulous idea! And very impressive that you did it all by yourself! Amazing! Looks really wonderful in your kitchen!

  2. gorgeous!!! And actually doesnt sound too hard given the right materials! Thanks for sharing!

    A Sweet Release

  3. WOW! I would never think of making my own light fixture. I'd be lucky to install one I bought! You did a fantastic job. I am so impressed.

  4. That's very cool! Love the step-by-step. Thanks for sharing!

  5. How fun! Very informative too. I didn't know that the glass-looking spraypaint would come from a place like Michaels--I've been looking forever for it at WalMart, no wonder I can't find it! Thanks for the info.

    Found you at Coastal Charm's linky party tonight,
    Suzanne in NW IL

  6. Love it! I'm trying to convert my can light right now and its KILLING me! Mine is only 4 inches wide so I'm having the hardest time finding a conversion kit that fits.... ugh.... one of those projects that doesn't run smoothly lol ;)

  7. I love west elm designs but as most of the rest of the world, cannot afford them. Thank you for sharing this (wonderfully inexpensive) project. Your light turned out even better than west elm's. :)

  8. Love it! What a great idea because I totally hear you on trying to personalize a rental.

  9. This is a really cool idea! Thanks for sharing! Stopping by from Lil Luna link party

  10. Great Job...Can you please post a picture with the light off?
    A visit from Trendy Treehouse
    and your newest follower :)

  11. These are just fabulous! I pinned it and plan to try it when I get a chance! Thanks for the great tutorial.

  12. I'm always the one who has to run to the store 25 times during a project. It almost kills the fun. This is such a great idea! I love it and I love trying to find inexpensive ways to remake designs I see selling for big bucks. This is adorable and I think it would also be great just leaving the glass clear. Thanks!

  13. Wow! You did a great job in achieving the look - super well done! You should share this at my link party over at Rustic Crafts ~

  14. Perfect timing for me to come across this! I was planning on making a lamp out of a jar and was feeling intimidated about doing the drilling. Thanks for sharing!

  15. I can't believe you figured all of this out AND made it non permanent which is perfect for a rental. This light is soooo much better than the recessed one that was there before. Great job, and thanks for the tutorial!

  16. Love this idea! It turned out really well. Thanks for posting the tutorial. We've been trying to figure out what kinds of pendant lighting to do in the kitchen.
    I'm stopping by from Saturday is Crafty Day with Laura.

  17. pretty and affordable. Those other lights are gorgeous but I would never pay that much especially when I can get this look for less. Thanks for linking up! Sharing it over on Facebook.
    504 Main

  18. Just gorgeous! I'm loving the mercury glass finish!

    Thanks for linking to a Round Tuit!
    Hope you have a great week!
    Jill @ Creating my way to Success

  19. Oh I just love your light fixture! I hope you will add your lovely metamorphosis to my Fall in Love linky party on Wednesday.

    Until then, stop by and see the under $20 makeover I gave an ugly brass light fixture.

    Happy Monday!

  20. So, so cute! Can I assume that you used a lower wattage (under 100) light bulb so that the glass vase wouldn't overheat and break? I just luv this project- it's inspiring me to creaet my own. Have you seen the vintage style light bulbs- it would look magnificent in this fixture? Visiting from Susan's party. ~ Sue

  21. Fantastic project! And your tutorial is amazing! Thanks for all the great pictures. :)

    PS I have a $50 cash giveaway going on at my blog right now! Come by when you get a chance. :)

  22. Wow, you are so clever! I am not very handy so might try this myself but my sister and her hubby are very handy and would love this!

    Best wishes,

  23. This is awesome! I need to try this one out- some of the lights in our rental could use some updating. I'd love it if you'd stop by my blog and check out the giveaway I'm having for a Dremel Saw Max!

  24. LOVE IT....i'd need one to swag though.
    (don't have a site of my own tho i wish i did. don't know how to make one)

  25. Wow, this hanging light is awesome. Another cool and trendy look by Rebecca!!! Love it! Way to go! xoxoSue

  26. Thank you so much for sharing this! We have the same recessed lights at one end of the kitchen and deeply dislike them. I've been wondering what I could do with them instead and this is wonderful inspiration!

  27. Amazing Becca! I will try one of these.

    And I have visited my settings and thread is active! Im clueless as to why it showed no reply. I have reset again, so try and let me know if its working :)

    Roy XX

  28. I like it! I need more ceiling fixtures to make all of the wonderful pendents I find on blogs :)

  29. That is so cool! My gears are spinning imagining all the objects I could use. Thanks for sharing!♥

    Linsey @

  30. wow kewl tutorial.
    I would love to have you join us at our linking party this week at
    Have a great week,

  31. We have a hole above our sink right now, but I think maybe we can fill it! Woohoo! Thanks so much for all the hints!

  32. This is really neat. The only thing to note is that you should use wire nuts, electrical taped into place, and never rely on just electrical tape. A better approach is to use a pendant conversion kit that simply screws into the socket in the recessed fixture. No matter how cool you should never create fire hazards by rigging electrical work.

  33. Great idea! Thanks for the tutorial!

  34. thanks for the great idea, i even pinned a picture to keep me inspired

  35. I love mercury glass. Your pendant light turned out fantastic! Thanks for the tute!

  36. wow, girl! I need to send this awesome tute to my sister! :)

  37. Beautiful job! I love this tutorial. I found your link through the Tatertots and Jello link party. I'm your newest follower. ~ Megan

  38. Wow! Great tutorial! Just what I was looking for! Thanks!

  39. Another amazing project, always with great tutorials! Thank you for sharing your creativity at Potpourri Friday!

  40. This is so cute! We would love to have you link this up to our party!


  41. um, WOW! That totally intimidates me, but I'm super impressed. Thanks for linking up this week!

  42. You did one heck of a job here, it looks beautiful!

  43. Pinned this! Beautiful job! Thanks so much for sharing at Mom On Timeout!

  44. Awesome! Thank you for joining me at Home Sweet Home!

  45. Wow, great project! I love the mercury glass look. So impressed that you were able to drill a hole through the glass! :)

  46. You did an amazing job with thw light fixture!

  47. Your articles are very well written and unique.

    smart night light reviews

  48. You have the best projects...seriously. Loving would be perfect in the exact same spot in my house, too! Thanks bunches for stopping by the party!

  49. Very cool project! I wish many people like your job profile.

    Again another new and update post.

    Thanks. pendant lighting glass


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