Check out this vintage lamp globe garden totem! What to do with salvaged vintage lamp globes? Create a garden totem!
Last Christmas I salvaged some awesome vintage lamps. I didn’t want to be responsible for shipping such large breakable lamps. These lamps were also missing lamp shades, or chimneys, or had some kind of damage. So what did I do? I took them apart and pieced them out!
Salvaged Vintage Lamps
Metal Lamp Base
The metal bases I sell as risers or cloche bases, like this…
Vintage Lamp Globe
With the lamp globes I took those and put them in my vintage truck to look like Christmas ornaments. I even used solar lights so they would glow in the dark. Between the sun shinning through the colored glass and the solar lights shining at night, these globes created a beautiful atmosphere.
But then we moved. The old vintage truck I had decorated for years couldn’t move with us. We tried to sell as much stuff as humanly possible before we moved so that we would have less to move. That meant that only 3 globes moved with me.
The first winter in the new home I placed the cluster of 3 in our flower beds. While doing that I dropped one on a memory stone and broke half of it. So after sitting out all winter, that one went in the trash. However, I kept it out all winter.
The front of the new house gets very little sun in the flower beds. My solar lights didn’t work by themselves uncovered. I knew from using the solar lights in the truck that the vintage lamp globes cut down on how much sun charged the lights. In Centerville I got everything finagled to charge. In Ankeny, that wasn’t going to happen.
I went through our Christmas totes and found tons of unused Christmas lights. Why were they unused? Because I hardly decorated for Christmas because of THIS whole debacle. Plus, for some reason I have a crazy amount of Christmas lights stashed. There is an outlet towards the front of the house. I bought one of THESE and shoved all of the lights into the lamp globes. It worked!
The Rest of the Bits
I sold a lot of random lamp pieces from the lamps I’ve purchased, but I still had a lot left. The more lamps you buy and take apart, the more random pieces you have to repurpose! Scrolling on Pinterest one day I saw someone made a totem for their garden out of the lamp globes! For me it was the perfect solution to my biggest issue! Storage! If you have the globes out during the winter as “Christmas Ornaments” then you have to find somewhere to store them the rest of the year!
Creating a totem allows me to use them differently all year in my flower bed instead of taking up storage space. Because some of these lamp globes are huge!! And by creating a totem we are using up all those random salvaged bits! It’s a win, win!
Watch Me Make the Vintage Lamp Globe Garden Totem
Building the Totem
Because I sold the lamp globes I had before the move (and broke one) I had been buying lamps for their bases and didn’t care about the look of the globe. When I build this totem I just used what I had. However, I am on the hunt for lamp globes that I actually like. My favorite is the HUGE green one! And the round white one is the other one I brought with me in the move. I don’t like white too much in the sunshine, but if you put lights inside, the glow is gorgeous!
Everything I did to build the totem is temporary. For me, I want to be able to swap out lamp globes as I find ones I like better. Another reason is because I want to continue to put some in my flower beds as ornaments. I can’t do that if I make the totem permanent.
You might want to make it permanent, especially depending on the size of your pieces. If you used some caulking then there is no slipping or sliding of the pieces. Most of my time creating this totem was simply figuring out which pieces fit together best so that nothing was able to slide around and break.
When I shared this on YouTube someone asked about rocks hitting it when we mow. If we lived in the country I definitely would have planned on them getting broken. But now that we are in the city, there really aren’t any surprises in our yard if you know what I mean. If one breaks, it breaks. If you are concerned about this, I would just suggest placing it in a larger flower bed and towards the back. You could also put it in a flower pot and that would at least get it off the ground a couple feet. Lessening the chances of getting hit with something flying out of the mower.
The first thing I needed was something to “thread” the lamp pieces on. At the old house I’m sure I would have found something in my stash or at my parents house. Moving meant downsizing and that stash is basically nonexistent. If I had time I would have hunted for an old floor lamp and maybe used those pieces.
Rebar was only like $5 so I really wasn’t too upset I didn’t have my old stash of stuff “I can’t throw away because I might use it one day.” 😁
I did take this salvaged piece and tested it out in the random lamp parts. It fit perfectly in most, but was too big on some pieces. So before I went and bought anything I took some needle nose pliers and attempted to make the holes that were too small, bigger. It worked! I knew for stability that I wanted things to fit as tightly as possible. So I would rather make a few pieces bigger versus getting a smaller pipe or section of rebar.
I went to Menards, for really no reason. All of the home improvement stores are lined up right by each other. Which makes no sense to me, but no one asked me.
Menards had 4′ or 10′ long pieces of rebar the size I needed. I knew 4′ would be too short once I stuck it in the ground. With the 10′ section I figured I could just shove it into the ground farther. OR, I could take it to my parents on one of our trips and have dad cut it to the right length. Better to have too much than not enough, right?
For the making of this blog post, lets just say I stuck it in the ground as far as I could! I mean it’s probably down there 5’😂. I probably should have called ONE CALL (call before you dig is their motto). But, I went REALLY slowly. I also knew where the electric and water entered the house, so there shouldn’t be anything there anyway! At about 5′ down I hit something and stopped.
It’s still too long for the amount of pieces I have, but I wasn’t quite ready to cut it. First of all I would like to find more/better globes for it. It will only take a few more to reach the top. Secondly, I think having it in the ground that far makes it more stable. We have been SO windy since I installed this and it hasn’t moved nor has anything broken!
Making the Bits Work
I took my needle nose pliers on the lamp bits that did not have holes large enough for the rebar. Luckily all but one piece I wanted to use was soft enough to easily be bent to enlarge the hole. I tried to keep the hole as snug to the rebar as possible, so I was not aggressive in bending the holes.
Assembling the Pieces
I had salvaged an old ceiling light with prisms and a medallion. It was going to take too much work to try to put the light back together, so I pieced everything out. The piece I am calling the medallion was the perfect piece to start with on the bottom. It definitely helps stabilize the rebar.
Then, it was a lot of trial and error. I put on and took off pieces many times! I still think it could be better, but I need some more lamps before that is going to happen!
While arranging the pieces I had to put certain pieces next to each other to make wide open holes on the lamp globes snug to the pole. I also tried to put enough metal in between the lamp globes so that there was good spacing. I didn’t want the totem to look like a lamp, but a totem. So I tried to switch up the order of using top glass shades and bottom lamp globes.
It will be interesting to see how long the hand painted florals last this summer. So far, so good. But, my favorites are the solid colors, so I will be happy when the weather does it’s thing!
I kept threading things on to the rebar until I had used all of my pieces! Because I want to add to it, I did not make a final topper or finial piece for it. Once I fill the rebar, then I will do something to create a top.
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