Upcycle Progress: 1920s Speakeasy Bottle Lamp

I am happy to say that I have made a good amount of progress on my project. I was able to source a few empty glass bottles from my roommates. My friend Ayden donated a large, empty Tito’s Vodka bottle to my cause, and my other friend Joey gave me an empty Jameson bottle under the condition that he gets the lamp when I am done. I now have more motivation to create a good final product as it will be gifted to my friend. 

Along with sourcing the bottles, I bought a glass drill bit and lamp kit on Amazon. I was able to drill holes in the bottles using the drill bit attached to my handheld electric drill. In order to ensure the bottle did not crack or overheat, I ran cold water over the bit during the drilling process. The hardest part of this process was getting the drill bit to bite the glass to tap the hole. I was able to avoid this problem by cutting a V-shape into a sponge and using it as a guide while coming in at an angle. Once the hole was tapped, I had to maintain adequate pressure while drilling at a medium rate. This was a fairly physical task that led to me having multiple painful hand cramps. Thankfully, the holes were tapped and came out fine.

As you can see from the pictures above, the Jameson bottle hole cracked a little since I began rushing the process to avoid hand cramps. However, it will still work fine and is not a major cutting hazard. The Tito’s hole came out much smoother since I took the proper amount of time drilling the hole. I took the lamp shade off of my current bedside lamp and attached it to the Tito’s bottle. It gives me a mid-century modern vibe that I enjoy. 

However, I have not yet achieved the speakeasy aesthetic I was going for. I plan on going to a thrift store and searching for a lampshade to pair with the Jameson bottle to achieve this aesthetic. In a perfect world, I would be able to find a dark red shade that matches the accent colors on the Jameson logo. I hope that I am able to find something like this at Goodwill. If I cannot find red, I will settle for a dark green or any other dim shade. 

The final step of my project is filling the bottles with some ornate material to cover the cord running through it. I plan on using some flat glass marbles from online or a pet store to cover the cord. These oblique glass beads are commonly used to fill the bottom of fish tanks. I think they will reflect the light from the bulb through the bottle and create neat patterns on the surface below the lamp. I should be able to complete all of this in the next week. 



[1] “The Decorative Collection.” Go to The Decorative Collection., 2020, www.tdccordlesslighting.com/product/the-carlyle-2/. 

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Great job so far Oliver, I know from personal experience that drilling through glass can be a major pain to say the least. I also really like your idea of using a Jameson bottle to create a more speakeasy aesthetic. I think that you could also look into oblique glass pieces that are commonly found in outdoor glass firepits. Overall, I am looking forward to seeing the final project and commend you for this cool upcycle project.

    • Thanks for the compliments John. I like your idea of looking for oblique glass pieces in outdoor glass fireplaces. Ill be sure to keep an eye out for some!

  • Jason Allshouse
    February 11, 2024 12:18 pm

    Bang-up job Oliver! That’s something I would enjoy having in my room as I love alcohol as well! I think that your plan to fill the bottle with marbles/ something else is a good idea. One suggestion/comment I have is maybe sanding the edges of the hole so you don’t cut yourself. Other than that great job and I’m jealous that I didn’t think of this.

    • Jason, I am glad to hear that you would put my lamp up in your room. I too am concerned about cutting myself on the glass. I have thought about adding a rubber stopper to fill the hole and cover the sharp edges. Thank you for your insight!


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