We’re talking through the simple process of turning a vintage lion figurine into the cutest table lamp ever! As a bonus, we’re also rounding up 20 cute + quirky animal lamps if you don’t prefer the DIY route!
We found this handsome, heavy plaster lion at a vintage warehouse sale years ago. Since then, he’s bounced around our home from shelf to shelf ever since. We never quite found the right place for him to reside – until we decided that he needed to fulfill his true destiny and become a table lamp! We knew this would be the cute + quirky touch that our playroom needed.
The lamp conversion project was quite simple and only took about 45 minutes from start to finish once we’d assembled all of the necessary supplies. Here’s how it came together!
Tools + Supplies Used
- Any plaster or wood animal, vase or vessel that can be drilled through. The sky’s the limit on what can be made into a lamp!
- Lamp wiring kit
- Lampshade (any small lampshade should work)
- Set of lamp rods with multiple lengths
- Drill with appropriate bits for material to be drilled (masonry bits worked great in our case!)
- Dremel tool with metal cutting wheel (optional)
1| Find Your Lamp Base
The first step of the project is finding the item that you’ll use as a lamp base. It can be pretty much anything that you can drill through! Go nuts, and have fun!
2| Drill Your Hole
Depending on the shape of the animal or vessel you’ll be using for your lamp, this step will look different for every project. Our lion’s plaster body measured about 3 inches tall from top to bottom and the negative space below his belly allowed for a convenient place to run the lamp cord out through the bottom. Remember to keep the cord path in mind as you plan for hole placement! We started out using a 1/8″ masonry bit, then gradually stepped up to larger bits until the hole was appropriately sized for the 3/8″ lamp rod.
Our final hole was 15/64″, which left enough wiggle room to align the rod perfectly. Assuming you’re using the rod kit linked above, this size should work well for most materials. If you’re uncertain, step up in tiny increments until the rod fits the way you want. Remember, you can’t un-drill!
3| Determine Length and Cut Rod Accordingly
Once the hole was drilled to the appropriate size, we did a quick dry fit to determine the appropriate rod length. Keep in mind that you’ll need at least 1/4″ of rod at the bottom to affix a retaining nut (supplied in our lamp kit).
Once we had determined our length, we clamped the rod in our handy clamp-on bench vice and cut the rod down with a dremel and a metal cutoff wheel. With some very careful planning, cutting the rod might be able to be completely avoided, but we weren’t sure where we wanted the overall height of the lamp to end up, so we purchased a rod longer than we thought we’d need and cut it down accordingly.
4| Assemble Lamp
With the rod cut to the correct length, we simply followed the instructions on the lamp kit and assembled the final product. The kit includes an exploded view of how everything fits together, and we had it all built and wired up in about 5 minutes!
We love the way it lights up our living plant wall from below and casts beautiful plant-shaped shadows on the ceiling!
Since we suspected that our lion was made of plaster, but we weren’t 100% sure, we dove into this project with a tiny bit of uncertainty. Would everything go smoothly? (Yes!) Would we crack his poor body in half, rendering him useless? (No!) In the end, the masonry bit was the perfect tool for the job and drilled cleanly through the lion’s solid plaster body, but we were prepared for the very real possibility that irreparable damage would be done.
A big part of DIY is taking risks, and this one paid off.
If you’re not quite ready to potentially destroy your favorite animal figurine, we got you. Here’s a list of 20 cute + quirky animal lamps that are ready to purchase! Before we decided to DIY, the dinosaur and leopard were on our wishlist.