Vintage Insulator Wall Sconce

Last year I made hanging tea lights from vintage insulators I found at a garage sale.  (Check out the original post here.)  I liked them at the time, but I didn’t get much use out of them.  So started searching the web for all sorts of ideas to use the insulators.  I love the idea of using them as some sort of lighting.  I don’t have the tools to create actual lamps, so that was out of the question.  I kept coming back to using them as tea lights.  I found different types of sconces, and I thought “Hey I can make something like that.”
  • Insulators (already had)
  • Wood (Purchased from Joann Fabrics)
  • Clamps (Purchased from Home Depot)
  • Paint (already had)
  • Duct Tape (already had)
  • Screws
  • Drill
  • Sawtooth Picture Hangers
To start this project I used the vinegar and steel wool mixture I used on the shelves I built earlier this year.  To make it put some steel wool in a jar with a lid, and fill it with vinegar.  Let it sit for about 24 hours.  Use a brush to apply to the wood. I did about three coats of the mixture and this wood turned a reddish hue.  Which I loved.  The wood wasn’t smooth, and I had debated sanding it down to smooth it out but I decided to leave it as is.
Next I took some wax (I heated it with my hair dryer to go on easier) and rubbed it on placed that I would want to distress later on.
Then I took some left over white paint and painted one coat.  I didn’t want it to be too evenly painted. I was going for a slightly weathered/distressed look.  Once the paint was dry, I took the duct tape and placed it where I had rubbed the wax.  I rubbed the tape on and the ripped it off.  Doing so took off the paint and the wax.  I went a little light when I distressed it, but you can distress as much or as little as you like.  I really wanted the knots to show through because I liked them.
When I laid out the insulators on the board, they would lean because one part is larger than the other. to rectify that, I took a strip of wood, cut it to the same length as the boards.  This way the insulators will lay level.
After cutting the strip of wood and cut it to size, I sanded the rough edge. Then I rubbed almost the whole thing with wax again. I painted it with some Martha Stewart Paint I had, in Beach Glass. When dry, I put duct tape on it and pulled it off.  I really like this way of distressing.  It’s fun to rip the tape off. And it gives a very different look than sanding does.
Next I lined up the strip of wood on the boards, and made sure it was level.  The total length was 23 inches.  I measured four inches from the sides and marked each spot, then I measured the center of the strip and marked that.  Next I drilled pilot holes into the strip and the board.
After I drilled the first one, I put a screw through the boards to make sure that they would stay lined up.  Then I drilled the other two holes.
Getting the screw through one of the opening on the clamp seemed to take forever. The first clamp got a little bent in the process of trying to make an opening large enough for the screw to fit.  Then I realized I had a Dremel and new cutting blades.  I bent the clamp so that I could cut an opening. I wish I would have thought of it sooner, I would have saved about 15 minutes monkeying around with it.

With that little hole cut, I was able to get the screw in much easier. The other two clamps took a few minutes to cut through completely.

I then took the sawtooth hangers and marked where I wanted them to go and hammered them in.  I also added some Gorilla super glue to make sure they wouldn’t pop out.  Those three insulators are pretty heavy and I didn’t want it falling off my wall.
With the hangers in place, I was then able to screw the insulators in place.  I didn’t need to use a screwdriver until I was tightening them in place.

I then drilled some holes in the wall and pounded in some anchors (I don’t want this bad boy going anywhere). I have a handy little trick I use when hanging things.  I put in the first nail or screw and then I use a screw through a piece of wood to hook on the other end.  That way I can use one hand to adjust the height while making sure that it is level.



Besides my hutch and the industrial shelves I built, these have to be my favorite. When it’s all lit up, it makes me smile.  I still have three more insulators, I’m still not sure what I’m going to do with them…maybe a coat rack.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: