Seeing the Repurposed Light
Hobbyist John Yourkiewicz’s lamps are earth-friendly and useful.
A unique item caught John Yourkiewicz’s attention six years ago while he was browsing in downtown Wilmington specialty shops.
“It was a liquor bottle with the original label on it, but it was a lamp,” he says. He was interested in buying it, but the price was more than he wanted to spend. “I picked it up and looked at it. I thought it was pretty easy to make.”
Yourkiewicz now makes 1.75 liter liquor bottle lamps complete with lamp shade and sells them at festivals, church fairs and farmers markets. If someone has a larger bottle or a special request, he accommodates the customer.
“It’s a hobby for me,” he says. “I use the money I make to make more products.”
Although creating the lamps is easy for Yourkiewicz now, he had to learn certain techniques before he had successes.
“I started to collect bottles, but the ones I was collecting were too small,” he says. They wouldn’t stay upright when he attached the electrical mechanism and the shade.
Another challenge was drilling the hole properly.
“I’d drill a hole in the bottom of the bottle, but it would break.” He learned the proper method by finding instructions online. “I adjusted what I learned from YouTube and decided I could do it easier and quicker,” he says. He bought a ½-inch diamond tip core drill, which makes a clean hole without breaking the bottle.
Rather than buying the necessary wiring at hardware stores, Yourkiewicz finds lamps at thrift stores and auction houses and reuses the electric apparatus from them.
“You have to know some basic wiring, know what is polarized,” he says. Finally, he finds lamp shades at dollar stores.
He no longer leaves labels on the bottles. Instead he scrapes them off and adds a decal of a college, professional team or what a customer might request, but “the bottle has to fit the decal,” he says.
As his lamps became popular, people began giving Yourkiewicz bottles. He prefers bottles with a handle and those with an unusual shape. Captain Morgan, tequila bottles and those that are tall and slim make extraordinary lamps. His favorite creation is one he made with a Johnny Walker 4.5 liter bottle that came in a cradle. “That was a challenge because once I put the harp and shade on, the lamp rocked. I had to make adjustments.”
All the lamps he makes cost $40. “They are fairly priced,” he says.
Whatever elements he doesn’t use, he recycles. “I like to recycle, and people like that the bottles are repurposed,” he says.
Yourkiewicz and his wife, Marsha, moved to Leland in 2006 from Vermilion, Ohio. He had retired from Ford Motor Company after 35 years and says the weather and the grandchildren brought them to North Carolina.
He welcomes the challenge his hobby brings. But more importantly, he says, “I want people to be happy with the lamps.”
Want a lamp?