Beaded light bulb covers add interest to your interior lighting and soften bare bulb glare. They're ideal for vintage lamps and light fixtures without shades. You can also make beaded light bulb covers to enhance a chandelier. Clear and light-colored beads let the most light shine through. Darker bead colors, such as amber or red, cast dramatic shadows and turn plain lights into mood lighting. Though you can sometimes find vintage and new light bulb covers for sale, you can get exactly the look you want if you make your own.
Things You'll Need
Burned-out light bulb
Polystyrene foam block
Beading wire, 18 gauge
Cloth measuring tape
Beading wire, 20 to 26 gauge
Cover the glass part of a burned-out light bulb with thin strips of duct tape; if it breaks, you're less likely to get cut.
Hold the light bulb upright on a block of polystyrene foam, and trace around the light bulb's metal base with a pencil. Cut out the penciled circle on the foam with a craft knife. Make the hole about three-quarters as deep as the light bulb's metal base. Place the light bulb's base in the polystyrene hole to hold the bulb upright while you work.
Shape 18-gauge wire into a small circle about the size of a dime, or the size of an aspirin for pointed, chandelier bulbs. Twist the wire together at the end to maintain the shape, and clip the excess wire away with wire cutters.
Wrap a cloth measuring tape around the base of the light bulb where the glass meets the metal. Cut a piece of 18-gauge wire 3/4 inch longer than the base measurement. Grasp one end of the wire with a pair of needle-nosed pliers, and twist the wire into a tiny loop. Bend the other end of the wire down at a 90 degree angle, 1/4 inch from the end. Shape the wire into a circle. Insert the bended end of the wire into the other end's loop to close the circle.
Measure from the top of the light bulb to the top of the base. Cut 20- to 26-gauge wire -- depending on the holes in your beads -- 2 inches longer than your measurement. Twist one end of the wire into a loop with the needle-nosed pliers, but don't close the loop. Hook the loop over the larger wire circle, and press the loop closed with the pliers.
Slip glass beads onto the loose end of the wire from Step 5. Add beads up to the last 1/4 inch of wire. Twist the end of the wire into a loop with the needle-nosed pliers. Hook the loop over the smaller wire circle, and close the loop with the pliers.
Repeat Steps 5 and 6 with additional beaded wires until you've added enough strands to cover the light bulb. Unfasten the larger wire circle from time to time, and slip the beaded cover onto the bulb to check the look and coverage of the strands.
Unfasten the larger wire circle once you're finished with the beaded light bulb cover. Slip the cover onto a working light bulb, and refasten the circle. Press the wire strands gently along the contours of the bulb. Screw the covered, working light bulb into the socket of your lamp or ceiling fixture.
Use graduated bead sizes to make your light bulb covers more interesting. Use the smallest beads at both ends of the covers, and use the largest at the widest point of the bulb.
Use only glass beads for beaded light bulb covers. Plastic beads may melt.