The look of concrete is all the rage for both outdoor, and indoor living spaces. The smooth gray surface provides endless possibilities to add color and texture for even more interest, and as long as you have a good mould, you can make just about any shape you can think of.
DIY concrete lamps have become a fun way to add lighting to just about any situation, and are easy to make even if you have very little creative skills. The industrial look of this type of lighting works well in all types of decor, and with the many different light bulb choices available, you can provide the lighting of your choice. If you have wondered how to make a DIY concrete lamp base, look no further as we explore the techniques of doing so below.
What you will need:
Make a Lamp Kit
A light cord kit is a must in order to even have a light. These come in varying colors, as well as materials- such as plastic and metal, to provide the look you want. Find the type that you need and want for your project!
Quickrete, or a Portland cement mix that you can mix with an aggregate of some sort (sand or powdered marble) to make it stronger. Quickrete is premixed and has more of a texture to it due to the fine sands and gravel already mixed in. Cement is the main ingredient of concrete, but to make it truly durable you need to add to it. This provides a smoother, more sandable surface as a finish and is often preferred for crafting.
The length of this depends on the size of your base. This is to help keep a clear path for your electrical cord through the base as your concrete hardens. Be sure it is big enough to fit the cord within so you can feed your cord in later.
This is when you can get creative and either find a container to use for your base- such as an old fish bowl you don’t mind breaking, potato chip can, or milk carton. You can also make your own form using wooden forms and a bit of silicone to seal the sides so that you don’t lose the water out of the concrete.
Sandpaper, paint, lace for texture, etc… depending in what you want your finished project to look like you can finish off your final project in many ways. Concrete sands well so you can smooth out your edges and help flatten the sides. It also is easy to paint, although you can also mix mineral pigments into the concrete as you pour to create cool ombre effects. Use lace or other stencils for patterns, or even attach lace to the sides of your form and spray with vegetable oil to remove more easily after it sets.
Step 1: Prepare your Mould
Old glass vases and bowls make great bases as long as you are fine with breaking your concrete free. If you do decide to use glass you will need a glass drill bit in order to create a hole to thread your tubing through.
Wooden forms also work well and are easy to put together to create the specific size you want. You will need to seal the gaps well even if the wood is fit tightly together. Cardboard milk crates, ice cream containers, large peanut butter jars, and potato chip containers work particularly well also since they are lined with a moisture barrier and hold the cement.
You can also place a container within a container to create a hallowed-out base in which you can place your light. This provides you many opportunities to go back with a dremel or other small tool and create patterns through which the light can shine through.
Step 2: Run Tubing and Seal Openings
Before pouring the concrete you will need to have run your tubing. A flexible bit of vinyl tubing works well for this, or you can even piece together PVC pipe for a more rigid hold. Your hole for the wire should be towards the bottom of your lamp, and always leave plenty of tubing out the top which you can trim back later if needed. Seal the area your tubing comes through with a waterproof silicon to ensure you don’t have any leakage around the opening. Try to make this as flush to the mould as possible to keep from having to cut it back later.
Step 3: Mix and and Pour Concrete
There is no special skill to mix your concrete, but one thing you need to keep in mind is to use too much water all once. Using too much water will result in a soupy mixture that will require you to add in more solid. This can create a poorly mixed concrete, or one with an increase of air being mixed in that can be difficult to tap out. In a separate container, mix your Quickete, or concrete and aggregate, following the mixture ratio. This is also when you add in your mineral pigments if you are using them, and is an excellent time to create variations in your color scheme, such as in this ombre lamp design. Once you have the proper mix, pour it into your mould slowly and tap it out as you go to release air bubbles.
Step 4: Let Set, and Remove
Concrete takes time to set up, and you should provide, at minimum, 48 hours to set up completely to ensure you don’t cause any damage when removing your mould. Glass can be tapped off with a hammer, and should be done while over a garbage bag or newspaper to catch the broken glass. Forms can be unscrewed, and other materials peeled off, or the base even tapped out gently. This is a step you should take to avoid any breakage.
Step 5: Finish the Base
If you are looking to keep the more natural concrete look, then all you may want to do it give your base a once over with fine sandpaper to remove any rough edges or loose concrete that didn’t settle.
Spray painting, especially textured paint is a popular choice, as is using delicate stencil designs to create subtle designs. There are pretty much endless ideas you could incorporate into your lamp base, including Solo floral designs, or even a matching color scheme to a lampshade if you so wish.
Step 6: Run Wires
Check to make sure your tubing is how you want it, and either cut or sand it down to the length you need it. Once you have that taken care of, you can run your cord up through the tube and set your connections. Be sure to follow the directions provided on the kit, and use the tool either provided, or suggested. Usually, you will only need a flathead and/or a phillips screwdriver to complete this task.
Step 7: Screw in the Bulb and Plug In
After following the directions of how to piece your lamp kit together, attach your light to the wires and base, and put your choice of bulb within. Then plug in and enjoy! There are seriously MANY ways you can set-up your lamp to fit your decor, so don’t ever limit yourself to just plain and boring. For example, this awesome pipe fitting works awesome with their kit choice!
Because you can literally hand create and choose your size of base, this is the perfect lamp for smaller side or sofa-tables, and can be made to sit in more narrow areas. No more searching for the perfect dimensions, rather some simple prep and a little innovation can have you viewing your own creation with a sense of enjoyment each evening.
If you have been searching for a unique lamp to fit an odd sized place, or simply would like a peice that is completely personalized to fit your decor- then you should seriously consider pouring your own mould. Cement is easy to mix and decorate, and as long as you take care to tap out your bubbles and allow it to set up properly, you will have a durable base that will last for as long as you need it.
Whether you choose to use a kit that includes the ability to use a lampshade or prefer the raw glow of your choice of bulb, it is sure to be a cool piece that you can show off. Cement is also popular as a strong decorative base as it is easy to paint and add to with a variety of materials.
No matter what you decide upon, you won’t be sorry you attempted this project. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know before. And we’d love to see you share your finished projects below!