D.I.Y. Shotgun Shell Lights
Last week, MAKE magazine's weblog posted a photo of a lovely shotgun shell flower vase that somebody gave the editor for his birthday. I remembered a string of shotgun shell christmas lights that I got for my father a few years back, and started scouring the web for an article that explained how to make them yourself. Zip. Nada...except that I finally landed on a little google tidbit about a workshop at a Texas Parks and Wildlife event. The workshop was led by Linda McMurry, who is a program administrator with the wildlife division, so I dropped her an email asking if she might be able to fax me her handout. I received a prompt reply that was even better...She has written a 44 PAGE BOOKLET of wildlife craft projects!
I got my booklet in the mail yesterday, and it was even better than promised. In addition to the shotgun shell project, there were camo pillowcases and napkins, feather jewelry, and a herd (sorry) of antler and hide projects. The whole project is very admirable...if you have a significant other who hunts (or if you hunt yourself), why let all of those feathers, antlers, and hides go to waste. Here, with the kind permission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, is Linda's shotgun shell christmas light project. If you would like to receive a copy of the booklet, please contact Linda at this email address. A second booklet is currently in the works.
Shotgun Shell Christmas Lights
We've all seen these in the various sporting good catalogs and specialty stores. And they're always at a very high dollar price, so most people just get one or two strings as a gift or novelty to put up in the office. Now, with a little cooperation from your favorite duck, goose, pheasant and/or turkey hunter, you can have enough for the entire house.
- Cleaned, dried shotgun shell hulls (one per light)
- String of clear Christmas lights long enough to use all your hulls (test the string first to make sure all the lights work)
- Multi-tool or small pair of pliers
- The first step is to make sure your hulls are clean and dry. You can clean them in a number of ways, including one at a time by hand. The best way is to put the hulls into a pillowcase, secure it, and put them into the washing machine. If you can stand the racket, you can also put them in the dryer on low heat, but it's probably not worth it unless you're going out for dinner. An alternative method of cleaning the hulls is to put them into the dishwasher. Using only the top rack, put one hull over each prong. Don't use the bottom rack because the water pressure from below will send them all over the dishwasher. Not fun!
- Using a silver cleaning cloth, brass cleaner, or a wire sanding brush, polish the metal end on each one until it's shiny.
Assembling the Lights:
- If you're lucky enough to have access to a re-loader, then 90% of your work is already done. Just "re-load" the hulls without anything in them.
- If however, you're like me and don't have access to one, then you'll have to close up the tops by hand. To do this, use the multi-tool or pliers to squeeze the crimps back into the top of thy hull. Once you have them pretty much back in shape, you can turn the hull upside down on a cutting board and push it the rest of the way in.
- Carefully take the tip of the multi-tool (or heck, a pencil will also work) and push the top crimping down inside the hull just enough to slip over the light bulb on the string of lights. Repeat this until you have a hull over each of the lights.
- To replace a bulb, push the plastic crimping down just a bit more until you can pull the light out of the hull.