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A lot of the costume jewelry at the estate sales we go to are the big gaudy clip-on earrings from the 80s and 90s.  Some are fabulous, and some are just down right tacky.  Don’t get me wrong, we totally rock some fabulous clip on earrings (big and sparkly), but a lot of these earrings just don’t make the jump to vintage glam.  But just because something is gaudy or tacky doesn’t mean it can’t find a new purpose!

Enter my latest project: the wonderfully tacky lamp!

I brought all of my great-aunt’s costumer jewelry back from Kentucky this summer and went through what was wearable and what was not.  I ended up with a huge pile of clip-on earrings that in their heyday were stylish and didn’t want to just throw the earrings out or put them in a garage sale.


I also came back with this really ugly column lamp that I wanted to redo.


Then a brilliant idea hit me! I would painted the lamp base and shade and then cover the shade in the clip on earrings!!  This lamp project was either going to be a huge success or a terrible mess, but I committed!

The first step was to paint the lamp.  I choose to do the base in a glossy white and the shade in a matte black (so the jewels would stand out).  I covered the light bulb part with plastic bag and wrapped painter’s tape around the cord.  You want to make sure the only thing showing is what you want painted.  Then I used spray paint and it took 2 coats to get the red covered – be careful about drips!

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Once the lamp shade was dry, I brought it inside so I could start putting the earrings on.  For most of the earrings, I took the clip off so the earring would lay flat on the shade.

I tried different glues and adhesives but none could bear the weight of the earring while it was drying so earrings would slide down the shade and leave a smear trail of glue (not cute).  I finally tried using my hot glue gun and it worked like a charm.  I just put a big glob on the back and pressed the earrings on (warning: the heat goes through the lamp shade so you will end up with the usual glue gun wounds).

I started by doing 1 row around the top of the shade and just randomly picked up earrings as I went.  I did try to vary the shape and size as I went around.  After that 1 row, everything else was just randomly placed.  I recommend starting with the larger earrings first and then filling in with smaller ones as your go.

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The final result?  A gloriously wonderful gaudy sparkly lamp!

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I love how the lamp turned out.  We had it for sale at OKC Vintage Market Days, but fortunately the right buyer did not come that weekend, so now I can enjoy the lamp in my home.  I think I am going to put it in my office!


If you don’t have a lot of clip-on earrings, you could do something similar with buttons (button covers), beads, or a mix of everything!  This project would also work on a smaller lamp and really any shape. The possibilities are endless!

Happy gluing!!