Thursday, July 12, 2012

Building Glass Towers!



Many moons ago, before this whole world wide web thing, in some magazine or book, I saw a picture.  I saw picture that I would never forget.  It was of these glass tower thingies made from glass globes taken from all those heinous lamps and swag lights of the 60's.





I thought that these towers were beautiful.  I knew that someday, some distant day, I would have one of my own. 




Many years flew by, but I never forgot about the glass towers.  Those years did not diminish my desire to make a glass tower.




So a few years ago I started collecting old swag lamps and ugly lamps from the 60's.  It wasn't easy, because as it turns out, the few people that didn't throw these things away were very proud of their possession.  They thought they were valuable.  I found MANY glass lights that would have been lovely in my towers but I just could not spend $60-$80 for each piece of my future tower.


So I waited, and continued my search.  I set a $15 limit per globe.  Even that made me gag just a little bit - I needed several globes and it can add up.  Over the next few years I collected ugly old lights.  It was slow and I wondered if I would ever get my glass towers.




Finally, I thought I had enough globes to build a tower.  I began to look through my books and magazines trying to find my original inspiration.  I looked and looked.  I looked twice.  I looked three times.  I could not find the original picture.  I finally gave up and put my DIY imagination to work.
 

 


I started taking apart my lamp and hanging light collection.  Remember this lamp that I promised I had special plans for?  This is what it was for.  Mystery solved.  (hope you didn't lose any sleep over this mystery!)  




I laid out all of my pieces to see approximately how tall my tower could be.  I determined I would need a 10 foot piece of re-bar to hold up my tower.






I chose a base from my garden stuff and stuck the re-bar into the ground as far as it took to leave the 6 feet I needed for the glass globes. I bought 3/8 re-bar because that is what would fit into the small opening on the globes.

As I began to build my glass tower I found out several things:

  • 1/2 inch re-bar would be better for this project. But if you use 1/2 you will have to drill out all of your holes, because rebar is an inconsistent size at the ends and it is a challenge to get the 3/8 inch through some of the holes.  I had to drill out (increase the size of the holes) on several of my lamp pieces.
  •  Re-bar bends more than you might think.
  •  The base that I selected would not work because the globe did not stay steady in the opening.
  • All of these globes in one tower was just too much weight. 
  •  The glass globes would need something between them to stabilize the tower and to protect the glass from breaking
.


Plan B

Collect all the lamp parts you threw aside as you took apart your lighting.  Paint them to match




Find a planter that you would like as a base for your tower. This planter must have a hole in the bottom.

Take out the plant that is in it. Dump out the dirt.

Put the planter in the garden on top of pavers that will stabilize the planter.

Stick your re-bar through the hole - leaving the estimated needed length needed for your globes and hardware.

Fill the planter with dirt.

Begin loading your tower, beginning with one of your lamp bases, alternating globes with hardware.  The top globe I used only had one opening so I didn't need hardware on the top.

If your re-bar ends up being the wrong size, unload everything and use a hammer to pound the re-bar in to the correct height.  This is easier than you might imagine.  At this point I began to worry that I should have checked with the MDIG people to make sure I wasn't going to hit a gas or water line.

Load everything back on and enjoy your glass tower!

Repeat the whole process with the leftover globes that you couldn't use in tower #1.




I love these towers.  I wish I could get a photograph that accurately depicts how pretty they are.  I'm investigating solar lighting that could be used inside them without changing the aesthetic. They would be lovely glowing at night.

I encourage the building of glass towers all over the world!

Update: If you are planning to build some for yourself, a second post with enhanced instructions is available here.






57 comments:

Corn in my Coffee-Pot said...

HI Karen!
I think these glass globe totems are beautiful!
I don't have a glass totem in my yard...but I am very covetous of a 'bottle tree' !!!
The Honey might go for a totem quicker than he would a tree...but I so want one.
the thing is... I have some of those gaudy hanging lamps...hanging in my living room. I love them~ Pat

Diane MacNaughtan * Dianie Mac * said...

Karen,
This is absolutely stunning!
One of my most favorite yard decor pieces I've seen to date.

Thanks so much for sharing all the tips you learned while making the towers.

Okay, now i'm on the lookout for the gawdy glass hanging lights..lol

Take care,
~Diane

Danni Baird @ Silo Hill Farm said...

Oh my gosh! I am so doing this! These are just gorgeous! Thanks for sharing it and thanks for telling us all the tips you learned along the way! So awesome!

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

OMG!!!! This is one of the best projects I have seen!
LOVE IT!!!

Hugs,
Deb

paisleysummer said...

Wow, very quirky and original! They make great outdoor sculptures x

Milia said...

Don't worry about Miss Dig, in our neighborhood, the gas lines runs to the street in front of your house. At most you ruined your sewer line. ;-)

miss flibbertigibbet said...

OH Karen! These are SO quirky and cool! I love them! I laughed about saving the globes for years! I have been saving bottles for years bc I'm determined to make a Southern style Bottle Tree! Determination wins out!!

miss flibbertigibbet said...

I had to come back and tell you that I Pinned it and put it on my FB page too!

Cher-Ann Texter said...

Wow, absolutely stunning!

Cher
www.designsbystudioc.com

Athena at Minervas Garden said...

Hello Karen: These are just beautiful, and what a great colorful addition to your garden. Take care--have a wonderful weekend!

Stacey @flickerwhips said...

AWESOME!!! I'm pinning!

Little Miss Maggie said...

Boy, are these pretty. I have never seen anything like them.

Beth Hall said...

Beautiful! I think it is time to start collecting glass globes. I hope it doesn't take me too many years...lol. Thanks for the lesson.

fiona anderson said...

Wow Karen, these are amazing - I love love love your glass towers and now I'm going to sound like a petulant child and say 'I want one' !!

Vickie @ Ranger 911 said...

Your glass towers are amazing!!! Hmmm, I know I've seen one of those lamps in a relative's house.

Bliss said...

Pinning and making if I ever collect enough stuff.

Bliss

Bliss said...

Pinning and making if I ever collect enough stuff.

Bliss

Marcela Gmd said...

Beautiful!!! nice blog!!!
Thank you so much for your comment!
Maybe we can follow each other? let me know...
Besos, desde EspaƱa, Marcela♥

kathee said...

Hi Karen, thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment! i joined the par~tay and I'm your newest follower! Little Miss Maggie invited me~
I'm loving your glass towers! OMG they look beautiful in your garden....I just saw a bunch of these old lamps at a flea market recently...could kick myself for not finding out how much they were!! Next time I won't RUN past them!
Have a great weekend...kathee

Kathryn J Cain said...

I think you deserve a high 5,a pat on the back and a shout out....girl you rocked this and I love love the effort and think the idea of some lighting would be wonderful

Gaia said...

Beautiful project! They add such a magical touch to your garden. Thanks for sharing what worked, and what didn't!

Cynthia said...

I love it! I wanted to build one of those too but was stopped by the obscene amount of money people think those lights are worth! Great job! I totally pinned this.

Cathy @ My 1929 Charmer said...

I love them, and want to build one for myself. Loving the blue color of the one. You really did good, so good, really cool and lovely towers! So glad you shared your creative inspiration with Sunday's Best!

Mary Ellen said...

I think this is so neat that you finally got yours done! I have been wanting to do the same thing but as yet, have procrastinated! Now that you have shown us how maybe I'll try it!

Ken Thompson said...

So beautiful! I wonder if it would be possible to wrap a string of LED white Christmas lights along the rebar so the tower would glow in the gathering dusk?

Michele said...

What a wonderful result of your longtime urge to copy a glass globe tower. You did a fantastic job!

~ Liz ~ said...

I just knew there had to be something that could be done with those old glass globes. I have had three occasions recently when I could have purchased these. I could not think why i needed them and talked myself out of putting something else in my storage room. Agh! NOW you decide to be the belle of the ball...sure... Couldn't you have dazzled us at least just two weeks ago so I wouldn't have passed up a really cute one of these? Okay I'm gonna hope that surely globes will come my way again, and I will imitate you in some form at that time. I'm really impressed with your architectural skills. Bravo, Belle!
Liz

Homa Style said...

Thanks for sharing, I found this on HomeTalk and was quite impressed. I asked on Hometalk for ideas to put in two urns and this idea popped up. I think I will try the same {only shorter} using clear glass and vases. Yours is beautiful!!!

Mrs. Patty said...

I have seen a lot of garden towers and really love yours. Great tutorial too. Inspiring...and timing is perfect...my pile of globes will now have a new life. Thanks for sharing.

Dirty Hands-Beautiful Life said...

I cant believe as a buyer for a garden center I haven't seen this before. I have one green globe and counting. L-O-ve the inspiration. Thank you!

Joani said...

So pretty. Such an idea. I've seen smaller stacks but this makes a statement. Thanks for sharing. Have a nice weekend.

Nadine @ Chic with the Kool-Aid Mustache said...

I'm in love! I made a few glass totems but I like these much better! Oh my gosh I can't believe how many of these ugly glass globe lamps I've seen and never looked twice at recently! Now I suppose I will need to start buying them when I see them too...now I'm off to peruse the rest of your blog.

Vicki@MorePowerfulBeyondMeasure said...

LOVE!!!! I have made glass totems from dishes but never lamps...now I have one more thing to start collecting for:-)! You did a very good job...it's beautiful! Best, Vicki

Christina at I Gotta Create! said...

Way to keep the dream alive because this is FANTASTIC!
Love it.
Thanks so much for linking up at I Gotta Create! <3 Christina

mycreativelyvintagelife.com said...

These are just beautiful. You should be proud! I don't know if I'd attempt one but I love how they turn out. Found you via the blog hop and am now a new follower.

Cynthia said...

Most creative thing I've seen in a while. I just love this idea and I so want to steal it! Your blog is awesome. I'm a new follower.

Chelsea said...

Bought my first lamp today to start my totem pole... can't wait to finish collecting them!! Thanks for the great idea!

Linda said...

It's back to Goodwill again today. Saw some globe lamps there yesterday. Probably be gone today LOL. Love these thanks for sharing the trials and tribulations of building one. Take care.

Jen Lossing said...

These are soooo wonderful. I love that you used the lamp parts as well. I think that really helped to add architectural interest to them as well. I am so inspired. I am now keeping my eye out for some awesome glass lamps too. Well worth the wait and collecting. They are beautiful!!!

April S. said...

Beautiful! What a great idea and they look so much more elegant like that then they do by themselves, haha. Thanks for sharing the parts that didn't work as well - nice to know not all blogger projects turn out perfect the first time around!

Bambi Jayne said...

Great Job. Nice to have some sparkle in between blooms in the garden! Thanks for sharing the structural details of your towers.

montana mama said...

What a great idea! I just saw some beautiful old glass globes at a second hand home resource store in town yesterday but didn't buy them since I didn't know what I would do with them, now I may have to go back and get them to make one of these! Hopping over from the monthly blog hop and following on GFC :)
annie
http://montanasolarcreations.blogspot.com/

Jaimee @ Craft, Interrupted said...

These are beautiful!! SO creative. I'm visiting from Thee Networking Blog Hop - new follower, and def. pinning this project : )

Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. said...

Very cool! I love a little whimsy in the garden!

Lizz Newberry said...

Oh this is beautiful and I am going to start those tacky glass lamps so someday I can make my own tower. Thanks for the lovely idea.

Joseph Haymore said...

I enjoyed your creativity. I am a strong proponent of reusing old things and giving them new life. I think you have truly met that goal of mine.

Joann Borden said...

I absolutely love your tower! I am on the lookout. Thank you for sharing your how-to...so generous.

Eq4bits said...

For lighting them why not get some of the soft glow led strings and thread thru the holes.... With plug coming out of bottom of planter, then an extension cord to the nearest outlet...... Unless you can find some solar powered strips

These towers are stunning, I'm going to have to keep them in mind when garage saling and flea marketing!

Kim said...

I think the pictures nailed it!! These are amazing and I love all of the extra hints that you throw our way to make sure we don't goof.

I am totally hunting and gathering old lamps now. One more thing to add to the hoard!
Kim@reposhture.blogspot.com

Traci Creel said...

Now I have to start collecting hideous lamps because I just love your towers. Thanks so much for all the tips you included, hopefully it will save me a trip or two to the home improvement store when I make mine.
Traci

Christine Freeman said...

Love them!
I have been collecting frosted or patterned globes without holes ($2 to $5 at my reuse center) for my garden. I've been putting the $1.00 Wal-mart solar lights in them so they glow like bubbles at night.

I'm thinking I need to start looking at the ones with holes because I need this. This and my bottle tree... Hmm....

Crafty Secrets Heartwarming Vintage Co. said...

Fabulous job! I love vintage glass and you have my heading spinning with ideas. Thanks for sharing all the step by step photos

Sandy

Rae said...

I had this idea a couple of years ago and still collecting light globes and parts. I love that I can see what I envisioned in a completed form. It reminds me of beads. Awesome.

Patty Rumaker said...

I love this! I came over from Hometalk and I am your newest follower on your blog through GFC. Happy Holidays!
Patty at Home and Lifestyle Design

kim said...

I love this tower and love your tutorial. I have been collecting for over a year now in hopes to make mine. I think I'm ready, but I have a few questions. First, how did yours survive the winter? Do you take it down or move it? I live in Northwestern Ontario (lots of snow and freezing temps) and worry that the winter would totally destroy this thing. Second,you have connector "pieces" between every piece of glass, correct? Do you think gaskets would also work?

kim said...

I also wanted to add that glass vases are another good source of beautiful glass to add to your tower. For a nominal fee, the local glass shop will cut holes in the vases so you can add them to your tower too. :)

Yolande said...

I like the combination of green and brown.

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