Decoupage Light Bulb Birds

I never throw away light bulbs. I always keep them in a container by my craft supplies, waiting for inspiration… like today. Well, last night really.

I was laying in bed, unable to sleep, pondering ideas in my head. I knew I wanted to make birds from a bunch of light bulbs, but it was the method I was mulling over.

I thought about just painting them, like my light bulb snowman, the light bulb penguin, or my light bulb turkey.

I also considered how to embellish them, like when I made my light bulb angel.

I thought about maybe even using paper mache, knowing it would make the bulb strong. But then I’d still have to paint them and I wanted something different.

Then it hit me… decoupage and tissue paper! I have tons of tissue paper. I save it from every birthday and Christmas present, and recently went to a baby shower (remember my love blocks and baby frame?) where I really scored. :)

So today, I pulled out 7 bulbs from my stash and got busy. The basic idea is decoupaging tissue paper onto light bulbs, using feathers, fishing wire and modeling clay to finish them off.

Below is a step by step tutorial. While they aren’t exactly what I envisioned, I still think they came out lovely :) I originally thought of something a little more vintage looking, but when I tried the antiquing gel over the tissue paper coating it didn’t produce the look I wanted, so I wiped it off and went with the bright colors instead. Hope you like them!

Decoupage Light Bulb Birds
printable version

incandescent light bulbs
white spray paint
tissue paper
white craft glue
orange modeling clay (or mix red and yellow like I did)
cardboard egg carton (to use as a stand)
acrylic craft paint: white and black
Sharpie markers (I used colors to match my tissue paper for the eyelids)
Clear acrylic spray sealer or glaze
feathers, colors to match your tissue paper
fishing line
hot glue gun
small silk flowers or leaves (optional)

Spray the bulbs with a coat of white spray paint. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s just to create a white base to decoupage onto so that the dark spots from the screw cap won’t be difficult to cover. Allow to dry.

While the paint is dry, roll small pieces of modeling clay between your fingers and create cone shapes.

Tear or cut tissue paper into squares. Mix equal amounts of white craft glue and water to make your decoupage mixture. Use a paintbrush to apply a little decoupage mixture onto the bulb, then pick up a square of tissue paper using the paintbrush (the wet bristles will stick to the tissue paper, picking it up) and gently place it on the wet bulb. Using a light touch, brush the tissue paper with decoupage.

Coat as much of the light bulb as you can, then let dry completely before turning the bulb over to do the other end.

Turn the bulbs over and decoupage the other end. I used about 3 layers of tissue paper, but I basically just kept covering until I was happy with the coverage. Let dry.

Glue the clay beaks to the flat end of the screw caps.

Use the handle end of a paintbrush dipped in white paint to add the eyes.

Alternatively, you can use a Sharpie marker to draw on the eyes.  Spray the bulbs with acrylic sealer and let dry.

Tie a long piece of fishing line around the bulb and hot glue in place. Glue feathers on as wings, tail and a little bit on top of the head.

Use toothpick to add the blacks of the eyes and let dry. Then use the other end of the toothpick to dot on a small bit of white to the black. You can also add eyelids using colored Sharpie markers. In some of the birds, insert small plastic leaves or silk flowers into the clay beak.

Hang or create a mobile!

How to turn recycled light bulbs into beautiful birds! Amanda Formaro of Crafts by Amanda

ANOTHER CRAFTY IDEA >>  Clothespin Vampire Bats


  1. Anonymous says

    This is so cute. We are always trying to come up with cute things for the kids at church. This will be great. Thank You, Betty

    • cheryl says


      • says

        Hi Cheryl. These should not be kept outside. I took the pictures outside because it was a pretty backdrop, but even if you used an “outdoor formula” Mod Podge sealer, the feathers would still be ruined by the rain. I would use these to hang from the ceiling in a sunroom or even a nursery! :)

  2. Lori says

    How very cute.. What a great idea..

    Thanks for joining Get Your Craft on Thursday. Please join me next week for another great party!

  3. Sandi says

    Oh my gosh!!!! Cutest thing I have ever seen. With light bulbs!!!! I hope you don't mind, but I just have to try this. My grandkids will think Meme is the smartest Meme ever, with these.

    Thanks for sharing.


  4. Paula says

    Love these! I am adding your link to my garden blog for yard art ideas. Thanks for sharing, Paula from Idaho

  5. Maria says

    these are absolutely Caaa-YOOT!. I'm a new follower, came over from Saturday is Craft Day. Hope your having a wonderful weekend.

  6. Kathryn says

    Super cute! The next time I have a bulb burn out that is this shape I am going to make one of these. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  7. says

    Amanda, you are a riot! I love that you shared that you were thinking about this while lying in bed! Of course your fellow crafters can totally relate, at least those who actually have time to sleep…..
    thanks again for a great project and for sharing on Craft Schooling Sunday!

  8. Allison @ House of Hepworths says

    Those are darling!! I can't believe they are from lightbulbs!
    Thanks for Hookin' your project up at my weekly Link party!!!

  9. Rory from Tools Are For Women Too! says

    Those look wayyyyy fun! Thank you for sharing them on Modern Craftswoman Monday. I really appreciate you linking back. Rory

  10. Stephanie Lynn says

    Amanda, This is the cutest thing I have ever seen! Your creativity is amazing! {on all your projects} Love these! Thanks so much for stopping by and joining the Sunday Showcase Party! I greatly appreciate it. Hope you have a wonderful week. Hope to see you again next Sunday! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  11. Stephanie Lynn says

    Hi Amanda, Just wanted to let you know I'll be featuring your birdies today! Stop by and grab a featured Button if you like. Thanks so much for linking to The Sunday Showcase! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  12. Kristi Flanagan says

    Very cute!!!! Thanks for planting this creative seed too!

    See you Friday to plant more seeds!

    Punkin Seed Productions

  13. [email protected] says

    Aww, these are so cute! Way creative! Thanks so much for the how-to, I'll be linking.

  14. Amanda says

    Thanks so much everyone!

    Al – yes I know! I saw those and commented on them mid-April :) very cool

  15. michelle@somedaycrafts says

    Love the idea!! Thanks for linking up!! We featured you so come grab a button!!

  16. Nf1andprek-whisper says

    i saw this on sumo and gave her the credit till I realized it was your, I am your newest follower, I am making those birds for a birthday party I have planned that is a whimsical theme, i will post pictures, I am a party planner on the side.
    if you want to visit me

  17. Amy Bowman says

    so cute and quirky!
    I think a bunch just spray painted white sitting in a black bowl could look really cool and modern. Never thought of saving my lightbulbs, now I will start!
    Thanks for linking to "AP Tuesdays!"

  18. Mel♥ says

    Love this idea! Great summer project to keep the kids busy when it rains :D 2 questions ~ Does that modeling clay dry hard? Also I am wondering what would happen if they did hang outside like in my garden :D I need some garden decor!! LOL!

  19. Amanda says

    Hi Mel :) The modeling that I used does not dry hard, it stays supple. As far as hanging them outside I would think that as long as you applied an ample amount of clear sealer spray, they would be fine, however, the feathers will probably suffer the most. If it rains, they'll get wet and matted. Would love to see yours if you make them! :)

  20. Anonymous says

    I wanted to let you know I came across your picture online and this past July I made these with the kids at our campground. I do Recreation Activities on the weekends and I had over 20 children make a light bulb bird and even had a couple adults come at the end and make one as well. We used glitter modge podge as our final coat on the birds and the children all loved……so cool!!!!

  21. thruthebugsonmywindshield says

    Absolutely the cutest! I'm going to have to make one for myself. Brought a big smile to my face first thing this morning. Excellent idea!

  22. Rachel says

    I absolutely adore these! I’ve made six of them so far whenever a nightlight bulb dies! I hung them all over my bedroom ceiling. Super cute, thanks Amanda!

  23. Evelina says

    Clever idea! It’s very creative of you to come up with such useful and beautiful things made from discarded materials.

  24. Pam Chan says

    Love your ideas and following them on pinterest. However, I live in the UK and we dont get good old ordinary light bulbs anymore ( banned by the despots in Europe) Could you possibly think of ways to use other shaped lightbulbs?I think I could make small birds with candle shaped ones, but as for penguins, they would look a bit thin? I defy anyone to come up with ideas for the long life curly energy saving lightbulbs we have to use these days!

    • says

      I have seen cute little ornaments made from the long chandelier type bulbs. I’ve seen penguins, snowman faces and reindeer, as well as just painting them and adding dots of glitter or stripes. I wouldn’t do anything with those curly bulbs. From what I understand they are filled with mercury and if they break it’s dangerous.


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