Friday, December 2, 2011

25 Gifts & Ornaments #5 - Christmas Bulb Soldered Charm

Oh yeah....we're gettin' out the power tools....sort of - LOL!!
A soldering iron is a power tool right?!?! 
Well, it is in my book!

Remember I told you that several people asked about Christmas charm ideas.  Well today is the first I wanted to share with you...and yes, those vintage Christmas bulbs are making a showing again. 

25 Gifts & Ornaments
#5 - Christmas Bulb
Soldered Charm

I know this isn't a complete how to on's hard taking photos of soldering by yourself.  It is definitely a two hand process.  I have a step by step photo tutorial section in my book - Teach Yourself Visually Collage & Altered Arts - that will walk you through each step of the process.  At some point I'll put together a video on it.

*NOTE: I am using Simply Swank soldering products.  Of course you can use whatever you (or your dh) have in your (his) stash.  I would make sure that you are using silver solder and acid free flux just to be safe. 

Christmas Bulbs
Copper Tape
Soldering Iron
Silver Solder
(optional) Alcohol Inks


1. First you're going to make some sort of  hanger for the charm using wire.  I tried lots of different types of hangers but found that winding the wire through the threads of the bulb as shown below work best....

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 005

2. After you've wound the wire, use the rest of the wire to make the loop. 

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 006

3.  When you're soldering you need to cover the are you want soldered with copper tape.  This is what your solder will stick to.  The copper tape comes in all sorts of  widths and even a nifty wavy edge!

TIP: You could use decorative scissors or border punches to make your own fun copper tape!!!  Simply use a wider width and trim away!

 Since our area to be soldered is so small I'm going to stick with just the plain or wavy. You really won't see much of the deco edge because of the shape of the bulb.

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 007

Wrap the wire and metal cap of the bulb with copper tape.

*Remember - the solder will only stick to the copper tape!

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 008

And here are several of my bulbs wired and wrapped...ready to solder.

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 010

4. Now that you're ready to solder you will need to paint a bit of flux on the tape.  The flux will help remove residues and help the bonding process between the copper tape and solder.  It also helps give you the smooth look.

Note: It does evaporate with heat so you may need to re-apply it if you notice the solder isn't "flowing".

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 012

5. Make sure the tip of your soldering iron is bright and shiny* before you begin.  If it's not, simply wipe the tip off on a damp sponge.  This will remove the impurities which will hamper the bonding process.

*NOTE - the tip may become dirty as you solder.  You can clean it off at any point during the soldering process to ensure a great looking finished solder.

6. Pick up a bit of the solder and place it on the copper tape.  If you have followed all of the above steps you will notice how the silver solder immediately turns molten and flows over the copper tape.  Continue picking up solder (cleaning the tip as needed) and covering the entire copper cap.

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 014

And here are the charms after they have been soldered.

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 015

7. (optional) Now I noticed that because I used the twisted wire thing in the threads of the cap my soldered pieces can unscrew....  Since I didn't want them to come off I simply unscrewed them a bit, added a touch of glass/jewelry glue and screwed it back on securely.  If you use a different format for attaching your wire you may be able to skip this step.
Christmas Light Bulb Charm 016

Now, you can leave the charms as is.....

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 017

Or you could use a bit of alcohol ink to color the soldered caps....

Christmas Light Bulb Charm 018

or the metal mixatives...
Christmas Light Bulb Charm 019

So there you go...
This is a really easy and a very fun technique once you get started. 
I hope you won't be intimidated by using the solder. 
There is nothing to be afraid of...honest!
It took me about 20 minutes to solder 10 charms...
I was having so much fun, I was hunting for more things to solder - LOL!!


  1. Those are really, really cool! Love those vintage bulbs!

  2. Roni -

    Love how these turned out. Soldering is one of those things I've always been afraid to try on my own. I mean, this is the woman who's acrylic nails caught fire when I was lapworking some beads - LOL! Not once, but twice! I was so intent on what I was doing in the class (I was making a marble), that I never realized I put my nail in the flame! I am hoping to take a jewelry class in the near future that will show me how to solder so I'll feel a bit more confident. I know, I'm a sissy!

    Elaine Allen

  3. The memories these bulbs bring.......

  4. Qoh darn! I just threw away a bunch of these bulbs!I decided to clean out some of the old Christmas stuff in the basement. Who knew old bulbs could be a cool ornament!Hummmm, I may have to swipe some off the trees hubby decorated outside!Thanks for another terrific idea!
    Olde Crow Mercantile

  5. great charms!! it's always nice to recycle vintage items.

  6. Very cool Roni! I have some of those kind of bulbs:)

  7. Love it! Hmmmmm..I'm thinking night light bulbs could be used for this?? I don't have any of the bulbs:(( think I'll have to give it a try! Thanks for doing this for us Roni!

  8. These turned out great. I have to try soldering. I have everything for it, just need to make my mind up to do it!

  9. Neat! I may have to try this. My Mom solders, so she can show me how. It would open some options in jewelry making, too. :)


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!