The world uses 500 BILLION disposable plastic cups every year and 91% of plastics aren’t recycled.
Not only that, most landfill is construction debris, and a huge percentage of that is usable scrap wood. I mill scrap wood and melt plastic drinking cups to create unique, classic looking items like lamps.
I’m not sure where I got the idea, probably from some YouTube video where someone said, “Hey, this is something you can do with old plastic!” Only it turned out to be not quite as easy as I expeted.
First I cut the plastic into small pieces to fit into an old blender that I got at Goodwill for about 10 bucks, then I grind those pieces for easier melting. If you melt the plastic at around 400° it doesn’t off-gas too much, but it does a little. You should definitely wear a mask and heavy gloves when handling the melted plastic.
The plastic out of the oven has a consistency like caramel but hardens very quickly so you have to smear it onto the surface before it stiffens and get it clamped. I’ve experimented with wood and granite; the big advantage of granite is that it can go back into the oven to help give a nice smooth finish to the panels, the downside is the way it cracks under the clamps.
So far so good on making cool looking shade pieces but I still had to create the lamp itself. To do this, I start with old planks and do a LOT of milling on the table saw. I run them through the table saw to make the lengths that I need, then cut those down in all the different angles, twists and lengths needed to make the classic of a Craftsman lampshade and base.
It takes about 12 feet of 3/4″ square pieces, which means a six plank becomes 18 feet of milled wood, and then I can cut the miters and angles to turn them into the 24 some odd parts that need to be assembled. And even THAT took a LOT of math.
It’s technically challenging, artistically interesting, and it’s great to be doing something with materials that would otherwise be heading to the landfill, while making beautiful pieces of art.
You can buy these lamps directly from this website, or contact me directly to learn more.