March 19, 2012

Repurposed Light Bulb Hot Air Balloon DIY

Incandescent light bulbs have lit the world since the late 1800s, and for just as long a light bulb's journey has ultimately led to the waste bin.  Every year, Americans throw away more than a billion of these miraculous little orbs of glass, inert gas and tungsten filament.  

Recently I came across a brilliant little sculpture by artist  Souther Salazar on Pinterest.  Titled "Lightbulb Balloon (orange)" the piece uses an incandescent bulb as the basis to create a whimsical hot air balloon.  Genius!  

For my part in this week's Elmer's Glue 'n Glitter project for Collective Bias, I took my inspiration from Salazar's work and created a sweet and simple trio of light bulb balloons of my own. 

What I love most about this project is that it repurposes items that might otherwise be destined for the trash:  water bottle caps, light bulbs, and fabric and trim scraps.  My cost for this project was under a dollar.

Next time a light bulb in your home emits its last dying flicker, don't toss it -- transform it!

Here's how...

 Hot Air Balloon DIY

Fabric Scraps
Burned-out Light bulb, any size
My only cost for this project: A bottle of versatile and reliable glue, purchased at Walmart for just $2.47.
These are my all-time favorite, go-to scissors! They're only $6 at Walmart and outperform my expensive fabric shears.  They cut easily through four pieces of fabric and are versatile for all types of crafting.  Perfect for every task in this project.
String, yarn or twine
Acrylic Paint
Wide-mouthed bottle (for drying rack)
Ribbon or ric-rac scraps
Plastic water bottle cap
An awl and a bamboo skewer
Small plastic animal

Step 1:  Pour a Tablespoon of all purpose glue in a small bowl and thin out with a teaspoon of water.  This creates a perfect decoupage medium.

 Step 2:  Measure light bulb from the center of the top to the line where the glass meets the metal base.  Cut four petal-shaped pieces of fabric to that length.  Cut another four petal-shaped pieces in a coordinating fabric.  The X-ACTO 8" scissors cut through four pieces of cotton fabric with ease and precision.  Love them!

Step 3:  Using a small flat paintbrush, brush thinned glue on a portion of the bulb (where you'll place the first petal of fabric).  Set fabric petal in place and brush glue on top.  Use the brush to push out any air bubbles or wrinkles.  Continue with a second fabric petal on the opposite side.  Glue remaining fabric petals in place on the left and the right.  There should be a petal-shaped gap in-between each piece.  TIP:  Start by gluing the lighter colored fabric in place.

 Step 4:  Repeat with the darker fabric petals.

Step 5:  Set in a wide-mouthed bottle to dry for at least 1/2 and hour.  After 1/2 and hour, flip lightbulb upside-down and dry for another 1/2 hour.

Step 6:  While the bulb is drying, use an awl or sharp pointed tool to poke four holes evening around the plastic cap. 

I learned by trial and error that it's better to paint and glitter after the holes are made.

Step 7:  Widen the holes by running a bamboo skewer all the way through.

Step 8:   Apply a base color of acrylic paint to the cap.  I used ivory.  Paint outside, then dry.  Paint inside, then dry.

Step 9:  Brush outside of cap with glue (not the diluted batch), then dust with glitter.  Dry.  Repeat on the inside of cap.

Step 10:  Cut two lengths of string.  (Height of the bulb x 2 plus 12 inches)

Step 11:  Tie a loop in one of the pieces of string.

Step 12: Hold loop in place at the top of the bulb.  Brush non-diluted glue on the string, taking care to line-up either side with the seams of the fabrics. 

Step 13:  Tie the second piece of string around the top knot. 

Step 14:  Brush glue on the remaining strings, all the way down to the line where the bulb meets the metal base.

Step 15:  Dry upside-down.  While the glue is drying, paint the metal base of the bulb with a complimentary acrylic color.  Dry.

Step 16:  Use non-diluted glue to set a piece of ribbon or ricrac in to place around the neck of the bulb.

Step 17:  Using your forefinger and thumb, rub some glue on each piece of dangling string.  Twist ends slightly to make them easier to pass through the holes in the cap "basket". Let dry for a few minutes.    

TIP:  I found it easiest to hang the bulb for this next part.  I looped an extra piece of string through the loop and tied it to my chandelier. 

 Step 18: Thread the stiffened string through one of the holes in the cap "basket".  Tie a knot in the end.  Repeat with the string on the opposite side, taking care to tie the strings evenly so the basket will be level.  Repeat with remaining strings.  Trim excess string off of each knot.

My string was way too short on the first attempt.  Your string will be much longer, giving you the flexibility of deciding how high or low you want the basket to hang.

Step 19: Glue a small plastic or polymer animal inside the basket.

 Step 20:  Hang balloon with clear elastic string.  

Up, up and away!

This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All opinions are my own.  I genuinely recommend the Elmer's products used in this project.  #CBias #GluenGlitter


  1. What a fabulous idea Jenn! Loving it so much and those little balloons are too sweet. It's just amazing what we can re-purpose in so very many ways! Right up my alley. :)) x

  2. That's so cute. I wonder if it would get over-hot if you put in a working bulb, with a small battery in the basket to power it. Then it could glow like a real hot air balloon!

    1. You could try it but don't try it in your house! Do it outside! Great idea btw!

    2. You could try it, but do it outside! Not in your house! Just in case.. great idea btw!

  3. What a cute idea! Great way to recycle something you'd normally throw away!

  4. Those are so adorable!! Cute idea.

  5. Totally lovin' these. I think they'd be perfect goodie bag items for a birthday party, too - so. cute.

  6. Those are just about the cutest things ever!!!

  7. These are SO charming! I just love them. And the tutorial is FAB! Thanks so much for sharing this - I'm pinning it : )

  8. These are so stinking adorable, Jenn!!! I had to pin this because I was swept away by the cuteness. Love this!

  9. Oh my goodness...these are absolutely adorable! I love them. ; )

  10. These are just amazing!! Absolutely love how they turned out and so clever - would love for you to link them to my Craftastic party:)

  11. This is the cutest, coolest project Jenn! I just love it!

  12. Hi Jenn,

    I haven't commented in forever! You are still creating the cutest stuff, ever! Love this!

  13. Thanks for linking this fab idea to Craftastic Monday - I've also pinned it on my Craftastic Picks page:)

  14. How fun I think my son and I will do this and use some Easter materials and give them out as gifts.

  15. These are amazing. I am so in love with the balloons, they are so fun and whimsical. I would love for you to share at the Spring Battle of the Cookers and Crafters at Bacon Time if you have not already for a chance to win. These would definitely get several votes from me.

  16. I haven't seen a cuter thing for a while!

  17. These are so pretty, they would look adorable in my daughter's room. Thank you so much for the tutorial!

    Jess from A Winding Road

  18. Love, love, love these!

  19. This project rocks. Thanks for sharing it.

  20. That is adorable!!! I love it!!! xoxo- Rachel

  21. This is an amazing idea, love it!
    Definitely on my to do list, hubby purchased a bunch of bulbs the other week, now I either need to refrain from using them now or convince him this is a better use of the light bulbs!

  22. this is an adorable idea! I want to do this in our girls room! Thanks for the great idea!

    Tamika @

  23. This is really wonderful idea of reuse.Thanks for the tutorial.

    I am too lazy .but if i make this someday would send you the pic of it.

    Thanks Again.

  24. So adorbs!!!& probably the best tutorial i've seen thus far.

  25. So adorbs!!!& probably the best tutorial i've seen thus far.

  26. What a pretty idea..
    cannot imagine this is a bulb !
    i thought it is ball or any other thing.
    soo nice and it is a wonderful idea..

    thanks for the project..

  27. Fabulous and so so pretty! I'll try to do it. Thanks a lot for the tutorial!!

  28. What a pretty way to recycle! Would look beautiful in a girl's room :)

  29. very detailed! thank you !!

  30. I'm the Editorial Assistant for Fun Family Crafts and I wanted to let you know that we have featured your project! You can see it here:

    If you have other kid-friendly crafts, we'd love it if you would submit them. If you would like to display a featured button on your site, you can grab one from the right side bar of your post above. Thanks for a wonderful project idea!

  31. information that is very valuable to me ! good luck and verygood website دانلود فیلتر شکن

  32. Wow! Your hot air balloons are stunning!!!

  33. Great idea. love them. Great inspiration. Thank you and your girls for sharing. Loretta 9/3/2015 8:03PM

  34. I really love these. I'm going to attempt to make them for my granddaughter. I hope they turn out as adorable as yours. Thanks for the idea.


ar campaignName = ""; var postLabels = $('.post-labels a'); var insertBefore = $('.post-footer'); //END CODE OPTIONS - DO NOT EDIT BELOW THIS LINE var labels=[];var label;var alternateLabel;var minposts=minimum-1;if(postLabels.length===1){label=postLabels.text().trim()}else if(postLabels.length>1){$(postLabels).each(function(){labels.push($(this).text().trim())});label=labels[Math.floor(labels.length*Math.random())];var labelLocation=labels.indexOf(label);if(labelLocation===labels.length-1){alternateLabel=labels[labelLocation-1]}else{alternateLabel=labels[labelLocation+1]}}if(label!==undefined){var title=$(".entry-title").text().trim();var labelCount=0;var alternateLabelCount=0;var matches=[];var url=$('link[rel="alternate"][title*="Atom"]').eq(0).attr("href");$.ajax({url:url,data:{"max-results":maxSearched,alt:"json-in-script"},dataType:"jsonp",success:function(e){$.each(e.feed.entry,function(t,n){if(e.feed.entry[t].category!==undefined){var r=[];for(var i=0;i=minposts){label=alternateLabel}$.each(e.feed.entry,function(t,n){if(e.feed.entry[t].category!==undefined){var r=[];for(var i=0;i'+s+''+s+"")}else if(matches.length'+s+''+s+"")}}}}});if(matches.length>=minimum){if(relatedTitle===true&&labelInTitle===true){insertBefore.before('")}else if(relatedTitle===true&&labelInTitle===false){insertBefore.before('")}else{insertBefore.before('')}matches.sort(function(){return.5-Math.random()});for(var t=0;t