DIY Cocktail Umbrella Lamp That You Shouldn't Try at Home

cocktail umbrella lampshadeI saw the cutest thing posted on Pinterest the other day: a round hanging lamp fashioned from a big bouncy-ball and a bunch of cocktail umbrellas. The image was clean, cheerful, irresistible -- a combination of kitsch and convenience.

But the tutorial was a little weird. It seemed thrown-together, with none of the step-by-step how-tos, and when people asked questions in the comments section, nobody answered.

Then I saw it again. And again. And again. It's been reposted all over the Internet, and people claimed to have made it, but nobody publicized their own efforts. I was determined to try it. If it could be done, I wanted this lamp. If not, I wanted to debunk the myth that it could exist!

Spoiler alert: Myth ... busted. DDIY (Don't Do It Yourself)!


The first thing the directions told me to do was cut a 5 cm hole in the ball. It didn't specify what kind of ball, so I improvised a little and used a bouncy ball of my daughter's. "She never uses that," my husband observed, "so I'm sure it's fine." Almost immediately, I realized this whole operation had one massive flaw: Balls deflate when you slice them and poke things into them.

DIY Lamp 1

I persevered, though, and found that I could stick my hand a bit inside to keep the ball in shape as I stuck the umbrellas through. It was slow going, but eventually I had covered the ball with festively colored nano-parasols.

DIY Lamp 2

I took apart a cheap Ikea paper lantern that had seen better days. Incidentally, some of the people who reposted this original tutorial suggested sticking the umbrellas into one of those, which might not be a bad idea. This one was pretty busted up, though, and the paper was not going to stand up to multiple umbrella pokes. Anyway, I removed the paper shade and slipped on the plastic one. It seemed like it would work.

DIY Lamp 3

It was time to take it for a test run! We plugged it in and turned on the light. Wow! How festive!

DIY Lamp 4

But wait ... what was that odd smell? Did we leave something on in the kitchen? Nooo! The bulb was so small, I figured if it was safe near paper and plastic. How wrong I was! Observe the result of just 30 seconds of lamp time. Thank goodness I hadn't left the room! Duh!

DIY Lamp 5

To make matters worse, I had sacrificed a ball and thoughtlessly left it out on my craft table. The next morning, while we were making breakfast, my husband and I heard a desolate, heartbroken wail from the next room, and found my daughter pointing at the lamp, saying, "I want this! I want this ball! I don't want the ball to be this!"

DIY Lamp 6

Mother of the freakin' century. God, I felt like a heel. So basically, no. This craft doesn't work, and once again, we've learned that you can't believe everything you read on the Internet (except this).

Have you made more successful projects with cocktail umbrellas?

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