Tutorial:: Recycled Vintage Christmas Lights

We love making handmade ornaments for our tree.  Most years, we make things that are more ethereal – paper chains, salt dough shapes, popcorn strings.  This year, I wanted to add something up-cycled or recycled.  We haven’t had glass ornaments of any kind for about a dozen years because we have little ones.  I got tired of cleaning up shattered glass.

This summer, we cut down a HUGE evergreen tree in front of our farmhouse.  And twined into the branches was a string of Christmas lights – the great big sturdy glass kind.  I decided that I wanted to make some ornaments from them.  I’ve seen some lovely hand-painted ones on Etsy like these and these.  But I needed to make something a little bit simpler, something that everyone could do.

You need:

Vintage glass Christmas lightbulbs (or replacements that have been sanded)

Metallic enamel craft paint



Paint brushes

Disposable cups or bowls

Disposable spoons (optional)

Metallic elastic cord to match your metallic paint

E6000 or similar glue

We salvaged about 60 bulbs from the string that was on the tree. The glass was naturally etched from wear. We cleaned the bulbs off with a paper towel to remove dirt and grass.

Next, paint the metal threads with the metallic paint and set on newspaper to dry. Ours dried right quick. Do a second coat if you feel it needs it.

Make sure you get the entire metal area, including the very tip.


These bottles of glitter will go a LONG way.



Place about 1 tablespoon of tacky glue, thinned with water, into a cup. Paint an even coat over the glass part of each bulb.


Beginning at the metal thread end, sprinkle the glitter over the bulb. Be generous, you can knock off any excess.




LOVE the green! Keep your glitter cups separate so that you can salvage the unused portion. It’s spendy.


Silver! Looked nice on both the clear and the opaque white bulbs.


All done. Waiting to be strung and hung.  We’ll tie the stringing cord onto the threads and glue in place with E6000.  That will need to set overnight before hanging.  You could also use Superglue or similar.  Make sure your workspace is well ventilated. P-U !

What we used::

Aleene’s Original Tacky Glue

Martha Stewart glitter (we chose Carnelian, Aquamarine Crystal, and White Gold)

DecoArt Gloss Enamel paint in Shimmering Silver

Jewelry Essentials Stringing elastic cord in silver

E6000 glue