A Lightning McQueen-Inspired Thrift Store Lamp Upcycle (Kachow!)

Lightning McQueen Inspired NightlightMy Mom and I used to give each other normal presents.

Flowers. Clothes. Jewelry.

Blah blah blah.

Not anymore!

For Christmas last year, I gave my Mom a B-I-G box filled with about a dozen packages of colorful napkins to fuel our recent decoupaging obsession.

Guess what? She gave me the SAME THING! Great minds think alike.

She came home from a recent Treasure Hunting Trip with an awesome souvenir for me … this ugly outdated 1980’s lamp she found at a thrift store for $5.

traffic light lamp_before1

“I thought you could do something with it,” she said.

I thought about painting the lamp in soft pastels and replacing those three little knobs with new crystal knobs from the Rustic Brands line we are now carrying at our shop, All Things New Again in Leesburg, VA.

traffic light lamp_before2But as I waited at a red light on my way home, I looked over at the lamp on my passenger seat and I had an even better idea.

Those three little knobs suddenly looked like a traffic signal to me. I pictured them red, yellow and green.

And then I pictured the lamp in Joey’s new room

My 3-year-old son Joey is a HUGE fan of Lightning McQueen, that speedy red race car from the movie Cars. We are re-doing his room in a Cars theme and a traffic signal lamp would fit perfectly.


(If you haven’t seen the movie, “Kachow!” is Lightning’s catch phrase. I say it all the time now like a big dork.)

I used American Paint Company all-natural clay chalk and mineral paint for this project in the colors Fireworks Red, A-Maize-ing (bright yellow) and Front Lawn (kelly green).

red_yellow_greenI painted all three colors onto the lamp in crazy patches. Here’s what it looked like:

traffic light lamp_in progress1traffic light lamp_in progress2Then I painted over everything with a black color called Cannonball. Since I planned to rub away some of the black paint to reveal the colors underneath, I added several squirts of water to my paint container. I wanted the paint thick enough to cover all that crazy, but thin enough to rub away easily.

To achieve this balance, I basically squirted water into my little cup and stirred it up until it poured right off my spoon. Cannonball comes straight out of the can really thick. I usually add water to it on everything so it spreads more nicely onto my project. You can add A LOT of water to it and still get great coverage and that rich, black color. (And if you find you made it too runny, just add another scoop of paint back into the mix.)

I missed some spots around the edges, but that’s OK. That’s just less black to rub away later.

traffic light lamp_in progress3When the black was completely dry, I wet distressed with a damp washcloth. That just means I rubbed the lamp like crazy until the colors came through the way I want them to.

I sealed everything with two coats of American Paint Company Top Coat.

traffic light lamp1

traffic light lamp_mater

traffic light lamp_closeupA NOTE ABOUT THAT CRAZY RED LIGHT BULB: I originally planned to cover the lampshade with Lightning McQueen fabric I found at Walmart, but I couldn’t find a lampshade that looked just right with the unusual shape of this lamp. That’s an option I still might do in the future if I ever find the perfect lampshade.

Then I planned to put an Edison bulb in the lamp for a funky industrial look, but instead I found this swirly red “party light” bulb at Home Depot. Red just like Lightning McQueen!

Kachow again!

traffic light lamp2_red bulbThe bulb kind of looks like one of those beacons on top of a radio tower. It casts a really weird red glow in Joey’s room at night, but he likes it so I like it too. We use it as a nightlight and keep it on overnight so in that way it actually works better than an Edison bulb.

And when Joey wakes up screaming at 3 a.m. because he had a bad dream or he dropped his stuffed dog Pete on the floor, this crazy red lamp lights the way for me to zoom in, fix the problem and get back to my bed and asleep before my body realizes I’m awake.

That’s enough to make any mom feel like a Piston Cup winner!

Kachow indeed!

~ Courtney

* * *

 Please join us this Saturday for …A Chair Affair

Advanced registration is required by Friday, May 8. Call Cathy at 703-779-2991 or register online here. 

One response to “A Lightning McQueen-Inspired Thrift Store Lamp Upcycle (Kachow!)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s