Our kids don’t sleep with a night light, but recently we started feeling like it would be useful to have a small bathroom lamp to light the way during the middle-of-the-night trips that the littlest member of our family makes nightly. Now that we have one, I realize that a soft little light switched on in the wee hours of the morning is a pleasure that groggy parents and sleepy toddlers alike can appreciate.
I’ve been low-key looking for a night light ever since we were making middle of the night trips to the bathroom with Faye, but in all my searching I never found anything that was small enough or simple enough to be to my liking.
Over the weekend, I did a few laps around the local hardware store—a favorite weekend activity of mine if ever there were one—and when I spotted this night light, I decided to take the plunge. It was the simplest one in the store and for $2.99, I thought I’d take the risk.
First things first, I removed the plastic shade and then began to rifle through the apartment, looking to see what I could use to fashion a replacement. I wanted to use only things I already had handy and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time doing it.
The design I landed on is simple enough—a small bracket made from annealed wire and made to hold any manner of lightweight and flat-ish paper or object that might look pretty with a bit of golden light shining through.
A few things I found around the apartment that are suitable as shades:
+ A seashell
+ An old photograph
+ A velum envelope filled with dried flowers
+ Opaque cardstock, poked with tiny nail holes
+ Cut up greeting cards, book jackets, and calendar pages
+ Water color paper and a light water color wash
+ 1 simple nightlight with removable shade (I found this one for $2.99 at the local hardware store.)
+ 19 gauge annealed wire, or any wire sturdy enough to stay put but thin enough to manipulate easily
+ Pliers and wire cutters (I use this multipurpose tool)
+ Shade material of choice (see the list of possibilities above, or decide on your own!)
+ Remove the plastic shade from your night light and recycle.
+ Wrap a length of wire around the base of the light (as shown above), and cross both sides.
+ Using pliers, or your fingers, twist the wire so that it becomes tight around the base of the lamp and you have about an inch of twisted wire extending from the light. Use the wire cutters to snip one side of the wire and clamp with pliers.
+ Using the tip of your finger as a guide, twist the remaining long wire twice around your finger. The two loops should be roughly the same size and about a centimeter tall. (Of course you can adjust according to the kind of shade you’re going to use, but I found the same length to work for all of my shade options.
+ If needed, bend the loops upward and trim any remaining wire.
+ Select a small shade, trim it to size if necessary, and slip it between the two loops, the way you might secure a paperclip to a piece of paper. And you’re done!
A few notes and a few ideas:
It’s important to make sure you’ve twisted at least an inch of wire so that the paper shade stays away from the bare bulb. (You can also replace the incandescent bulb with a cool LED bulb.)
I love how letterpress notes and simple fonts look when illuminated from behind. Above, clippings from a Brown Parcel Press envelope, a card from Of Note Stationers, and an Appointed Calendar (from top to bottom).
You could even experiment with printing or stamping your own note, or line of poetry.
Above, I used a tiny nail to poke “stars” into a piece of navy card stock.
If you wanted to be extra fancy you could easily poke a constellation into your starry scene instead.
I tried a few different ways to attach dried flowers to my lamp, but I most loved the look of the petals loosely held in place in a velum envelope.
(Especially when it’s all lit up.)
This oyster shell was thin enough to slip right into the bracket that I made, but I also experimented with a thicker mussel shell. In that case, I poked a hole in the bottom of the shell and strung my wire directly through it to secure it to the lamp.
I was afraid the shell would look too twee or crafty, but I think the funky oyster shell helps here. I ended up really liking the soft glow and especially how the light glints out of the tiny holes some tiny mollusk must have drilled through.
So many old photographs are the perfect size for this project. I loved sorting through my pile of family photographs to find ones that would work.
Just one bit of advice, unless you want to look at the writing, try to choose photographs that haven’t been written on, otherwise the handwriting from the back will overwhelm the image.
Truly, the possibilities here are many. What do you think?
If anyone decides to experiment, I’d love to see!
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