Upcycled Shopping Bag Lights

Two shopping bag lights against a brick wall.
What You'll Need
3 strands of LED lights
2 8-foot 1x2s
3 plastic bags
8 5/8-inch screws
3 cool nails, hooks, or screws
drill with 3/4-inch forstener drill bit
staple gun & staples

These are the easiest and cheapest lights to date. They also leave tons of room for personal creativity to expand the design. Bag lights go great in communal areas, as hallway wall hanging lights, or in the bathroom. They would be perfect for temporary outdoor lighting for a nighttime barbecue. You can personalize each light with what color plastic bag and type of lights to use. There are only a few simple steps.

What we will construct is a long box out of 1x2's in order to hide the chord behind, use as a wall mount, and provide clean presentation for the bags. Each bag will be glowing with LED string lights. We use LED because they don't get hot so are safe for indoor use.

Step 1 - Build Wall Hanging Structure

Cut both 1x2s in half to 4-foot each. Set them up table-top style, making a long 3-sided box measuring 2 inches, high, 2 inches deep and 4 feet long. Countersink and screw them together.

Step 2 - Set Bags and Drill Holes

Drive a nail or other special hardware into the face of the box at 12, 24, and 36 inches. Of course, you can choose whether to space them clean and even, or just relax and smack a nail in there. Underneath each nail drill a 3/4-inch hole which will be used to thread the chord. Hang a bag on each nail.

Step 3 - Thread and Staple Chord

Thread each chord to run along the inside of the box and into each bag. Feed a loop of lights into each bag and back out the hole. With the lights all plugged together, and strung through each hole, proceed to staple the chords securely along the inside of the box.

Step 4 - Hang and Enjoy

Seriously, that's it. Hang them where you want them and plug them in.

A single shoping bag light.

Extra Steps

The hanging box leaves lots of nice options for design angles. You can chooses to isolate the bags as sculptural objects by making the box sanded clean and square, and painted white. A nice edition could be uniformed galvanized nails.

Another direction to go is to use an interesting piece of wood like planking, live-edge, or a found piece to clad the front of the box with. This could be used to add themes to a room or as an accent piece.

Keep in mind that this simple 3-light design is provided mainly to be thought of as a unit, or a pixel. This piece can truly be modulated in every direction, style, and dimension.

Basically, this design is so open-source that no two lights will come out the same. Each piece is unique to a persons neighborhood and what type of bags they supply, what type of attachments to use, and what the final treatment to the box becomes. So make your own environment and elaborate. Be creative, build stuff, & get stoked!