Loryn: I’ve been obsessed with lamps and lampshades for a long time, so I went into the $5 challenge thinking about a shade for my upstairs hallway, which just had a bare bulb. I looked at a lot of different materials, and the minute I saw the furnace filters, I knew I’d found the perfect item. I bought a blue fiberglass filter with sheet metal, punched with holes, on both sides. It took some time to pull the paper border off. Once I tried to roll the shade, I realized that the inside metal piece would have to come off. Luckily, not much glue holds filters together.
Once I got the filter prepared, I needed a structure. Normally, I use premade lampshade rings, but the hardware store had nothing similar. I finally settled on metal strapping to create a frame at the top and bottom of the shade. I wrapped the filter over it twice at the top and bottom to hold the strapping in place.
The hardest part was finishing the seam where the strapping frame and filter edges came together. I really, really needed glue, but I only had 54 cents left in my budget. Finally, I used a piece of the metal mesh that I had removed to twist around the metal on each side. It holds it together, but it is sloppy.
To hang the shade from the ceiling, I used three short pieces of strapping, held to the ceiling with nails. The hardware store sells nails by the pound, and they looked at me very strangely when I bought five nails!
The furnace filter was not much fun to work with. The fine sheet metal cut my hands up, and the fiberglass fibers could work through leather gloves. I love the way the material looks in the light, though, so I may try working with it again, eventually.
Overall, this was a fun challenge that made me look at a lot of materials in a new way. I am not really happy with my finished product, because I needed glue and lampshade rings to finish the project to my usual standard. I love all the ideas that I got — the strapping could make a nice trivet, and the leftover punched metal from the filter will make a great stencil. I also had many ideas for hardware store materials that will show up here on the blog!