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Weekend Project: Milk Jug Shade

5/27/2011 10:28:08 AM

Tags: DIY window shade, upcycle plastic milk jugs, plastic milk jug shade, upcycled window shade, Susan Wasinger, Natural Home & Garden, Robyn Griggs Lawrence

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailI just moved into an office in my basement, and I need to capture all the natural light I can through its one small window. I’d like a little more privacy than this ground-level window affords, though, and former Natural Home & Garden art director Susan Wasinger’s translucent shade out of upcycled plastic milk jugs is the perfect solution. As Susan points out, the plastic is surprisingly pretty when the light hits it, and this shade will give me both the light and the privacy I’m seeking.



shade finished 

The triangular shapes make a strong graphic statement, but rectangles, circles or even amorphous shapes would also make for an intriguing shade. Photo by Susan Wasinger 

Milk Jug Shade 


About 6 milk jugs (for a 2-foot by 4-foot window)





Small hole punch (less than 1/8 inch)

¾-inch S hooks

shade step 1 

1. To store the jugs more efficiently while you collect them for your project, cut out the jug’s top, bottom and handle with scissors, leaving a flat piece of plastic that can be nested one within the other. To get the labels off the jugs, soak for at least 15 minutes in hot, soapy water; the labels should slide off easily.

shade step 2 

2. To make a template for the triangle shape, cut a piece of cardstock into a 3-by-3–inch square, then cut it in half along the diagonal. Put a piece of rolled-up tape on the back of the template and stick it to the jug. Cut its shape out of the plastic with scissors. Move the template around to get as many plastic triangles as you can out of each plastic sheet. We cut 10 to 12 out of each milk jug.

shade step 3 

3. Rough up the surface of the plastic triangles with sandpaper so they diffuse the light almost like rice paper. Using a small hole-punch, pierce the plastic triangle at the top and center bottom.

shade step 4 

4. String triangles together to a length appropriate to your window, using closed “S” hooks. We used 3/4–inch zinc-plated hooks. The edge of the plastic will just fit in where the “S” doesn’t close completely. Use a larger “S” hook for the topmost triangle and slide it onto a small dowel.

shade final 

The roughed-up plastic is surprisingly beautiful in the sunlight. Photo by Susan Wasinger 


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Russell Bowman
5/29/2011 10:21:16 PM
I cut the bottom of gallon milk jugs out and use them as cold caps for cool spring weather and starting cucumbers, squash, and tomatoes. They make an ideal little cold frame for seedlings until the weather warms up. We are having an unusually cold and rainy spring here in the north west, so this is a great idea to use right now.

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