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Guest Post: Glass Insulator Pendant Lights

So you’ve all heard me mentioning my friend Amy lately. I found the claw feet for her powder room vanity in the new house she’s building with her beautiful family. She grew up with The Rock Star and she is literally one of the most beautiful people I know, inside and out. She has a flare for repurposing rustic things and a fabulous eye for the possibilities that lay in old wood beams and discarded materials. So, we’re swapping blogs today! You can find me over at her blog Buffalo Roam today unveiling a whole new project I’ve been working on. More details on that coming your way next month! Without further ado…

Hi, Grandma Great’s Treasures lovers! My name is Amy, and I blog over at Buffalo Roam. I’m thrilled that Erin was willing to swap blogs with me today, because I am a huge fan of hers. She has amazing taste, a great eye, and a real talent for giving vintage pieces new life. She’s got an Etsy shop you can find a link to right here on her blog if you want proof! She is one of the few bloggers I know in real life, and feel so lucky to have that privilege. She is one of the most genuine and sweet people I have ever known, and if you ever need a few words of encouragement, I highly suggest you get them from Erin!

My husband and I are currently in the process of building a home. When we decided to build, we knew we wanted something different, something that was “us”. We hoped to use as many reclaimed and reused items as possible, not because we’re all noble and green (though we try!), but just because we love the character that comes only from pieces with a history. We also wanted to DIY a few things to add our own fingerprint, and to save some money if possible. My husband, D, has been working on some lighting I’d like to share with you today.

Our kitchen is wired for six pendant lights to hang down between our island and the cabinets, in a sort of “L” shape. Lucky for us, D was an electrician in a former life and suggested making our own pendant lights out of some old glass insulators we got for a steal off Craigslist. My grandpa worked for the Santa Fe railroad, so I have a bit of a soft spot for these.

His first step was figuring out how to drill a hole through them without them shattering. I’m proud to report that he figured it out on the first try and we had no casualties. The trick was to put them in a bowl of water, end to be drilled down, then fill the insulator itself with water and drill through the middle.

We found these mini pendant kits at Menard’s for $8.

We went with a bronze finish, thinking that would look nice with both the clear and turquoise glass. The kits come with instructions, and are very simple and easy to wire. I might have even been able to figure it out on my own!

Find yourself a teeny little lightbulb with a flat bottom so the bulb itself doesn’t hang lower than the insulator. We got a 40 watt and were shocked by how much light it produced through the glass.

You may have noticed that it is plugged in to the wall with bare wires from the cord. Don’t be like us. Don’t try that at home. D is a trained professional, remember? Either that, or I just really wanted a picture of it lit up for this post since they won’t be installed in the new house for a while yet.

Total, we spent about $10 a piece for the glass insulators and the mini pendant kits. So $60 to light our whole kitchen. I’m so pleased with them! Not only because they turned out so well, but because each time I turn them on, I will see D’s fingerprint on our home.

Many thanks to Erin for having me today! I’ve loved being here, and if she’s not already in your reader, go on ahead and add her now. You can thank me later.


About Erin Shipps

Life in your thirties can sometimes feel like you're stuck between what has happened and what's yet to come -- like being amidship. But I'm forging through with thrifty household decorating, DIY projects, health advice, and just life. When I'm not crafting my local Kansas City magazine VintageKC, I'm busy being a rock star's wife and mommy to the most beautiful 3-year-old. Welcome to our world amid the Shipps.

17 responses »

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: Erin from Grandma Great’s Treasures! | |

  2. Now Amy I thought you were brilliant before… I know! You are a rockstar and this is such a fabulous idea!
    PS Love the barn wood table Erin created over at your blog, too!

  3. Oh Amy, you fire pyro…

    That being said, I think these are absolutely fabulous. I love insulators (for no real reason other than they are just plain cool) and this is a brilliant way to repurpose them. I also love the idea of putting your own spin on your home and doing some of it yourself. That really does make it even more “yours” and make you even more proud to call it your home.

  4. LOVE how those turned out! Great job! Can’t wait to see them installed in that new kitchen of yours!

  5. Me, neither! Thanks Christine!

  6. These turned out AMAZING Amy! I absolutely love it! Between you and YHL’s pendant lighting, I’m becoming obsessed!

  7. I love these! What a great idea. I can’t wait to have somewhere to hang pendant lights…

  8. Amy that is EXTREMELY cool! I’ve never seen anything like that. remarkable. I’m also jealous that you guys have a Menards near you. I went to one in Wisconsin back in October when I was on travel for work… I could probably move in to one of their stores. Menards doesn’t exist further east of Ohio.

    • We actually drove about an hour to get to one, just because they tend to have a better selection for better prices, BUT my hometown is building one as we speak! Yay! And thank you! We’re happy with how they turned out.

  9. Awesome! I am so glad they turned out =) (PS-I am liking yours better than YHL)
    I love these and the tables Erin wrote about!

  10. Funny, I just ran across a box FULL of these insulators for 40 bucks. Should I give in?

    Love the look, can’t wait to see them in the new house!

  11. Just a word of caution: I had a beautiful fixture made using 15 of these old insulators. I used very low wattage tiny bulbs (15 watts), but one insulator has already shattered and another has a huge crack. I suspect it will also shatter if I turn the light on again. I don’t know if it is because I used too many insulators in one fixture, but beware… These insulators WILL shatter. I love the look of my fixture and am extremely disappointed. I am hoping the two damaged ones were already damaged and I didn’t notice it when choosing them or were damaged when the fixture was installed. I will replace them and see, but if any more cracks appear, I will have to give up and replace the fixture.


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