Upcycle Progress – Northern Lights

My biggest hurdle so far is determining the final shape of my project.  I originally imagined a spherical sun catcher, but since I’m breaking glass and other materials with a hammer, I am unable to make any geometrically symmetric shape. I’m aiming for an ornament resembling a sphere, so there will be no sharp edges and there won’t be a certain direction to hang it. 

My next biggest hurdle is finding what material and shape to use as a base to hold the project together until it’s complete. I’m leaning towards Styrofoam, but if I want to use water, I’m going to have to use something hollow.  I may use Styrofoam for the bottom half, to get a mostly spherical shape, and create a platform for the water. I would then get rid of the Styrofoam and glue the light bulbs to the existing piece, aiming for a sphere but making it uneven and asymmetrical. Since the northern lights have no pattern to them, this may end up being close to my aesthetic anyway. 

In my previous post, someone suggested I incorporate water into my project in the comments section, and I love that addition.  However, it remains to be seen if it’s feasible to add water. Adding water will allow the light to flow and move, just like the northern lights do.  Unfortunately, that requires me to change the shape again, since I want the water to be in the center; water on the outside or not near the center won’t have the effect I’m going for.  I’m still sketching ways to include water; as of now, I don’t have any way to hold the water.  I want the water to be enclosed, however, I believe there needs to be a way to refresh the water as well.  

I have most of my materials, bar what I’m going to do with the water.  I have old Christmas ornaments, Christmas and other colored holiday lights, a hammer for breaking, hot glue and glue gun, and sandpaper to dull the glass edges (TBD if sandpaper will work or not).   I still need to find a material that I can mold the broken pieces together with, that I can discard for the final result. 



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1 Comment. Leave new

  • Thomas Buckholtz
    February 9, 2020 1:44 pm

    Hey Hannah,

    This is a really intriguing project, I had to actually look up what a suncatcher was since I hadn’t heard of them before, or at least didn’t know their name. This seems to me to be the perfect way to encapture the “Northern Lights” aesthetic, although I share your concern in whether or not sandpaper will work or not to dull the edges of shards. I think for ornaments it will work well since they are thin, but if you end up using glass it may be a lot more difficult since it’ll likely break into small pieces that are hard to grab without injuring yourself. It could be a good idea to double down on the ornament route rather than trying to manipulate lightbulb glass, but I do think the translucency of glass would add a nice touch. I like the idea of adding water to this piece! A way I’m envisioning of pulling this off is knocking the stem of the lightbulbs off, and threading near that end with some sort of wire to create a little bucket out of them, that could be placed in the center. This way you could invert them when you want to refresh the water, and it may also give it a bit of a dynamic element as well, depending on how tight you make the wire fit the holes of the bulb.


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