Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Let There Be Light!!


It has been a ridiculously busy year! We closed on our home at the end of 2012, celebrated my son’s 7th birthday the first weekend of January (more on that to come), I accepted my 
job (aka: work from home and still make an amazing living) with an incredible company, my love accepted a position with an engineering firm downtown and in the middle of all of that, we've maintained some semblance of a social live while renovating and upgrading aspects of the new place.
I’ll dedicate sporadic posts to all of the neat things that my honey built with his new-found carpentry skills, but would like to kick off the home-improvement portion of my little inter-web home with a step-by-step of how I made our dining chandelier! 
A lot of my pictures were lost during an unfortunate Apple Store visit, where we found out that the phone would need to be replaced before I had a chance to back-up the last week or so of memory, so I apologize in advance for the lack of pictures to accompany each step. 

THIS Pottery Barn chandelier is really cute and vintage-y yet still kind of modern in its own way. It’s funky and different and….it's US. We had to have it. What we didn't have to have was the 16 pendant aspect OR the $400 price tag.
A few Google searches and stops at WorldMarket, Lowe’s, & IKEA and we were well on our way to a custom light fixture.

  • Mason jars (buy as many as you will need to get the look you’re going for)
  • Single drop-lights (same number as jars)
  • Edison Filament bulbs – you can go with regular bulbs, but I prefer the look of these.
  • Material for the frame
  • Drill with bits
  • Exacto knife
  • Wire strippers
  • Electrical tape
  • Hammer and one large nail

1.   Trace the opening for the lightbulb socket onto the center of the mason jar lids and CAREFULLY cut out the traced circles. Your lightbulb sockets should now fit perfectly into place – you will need to press firmly to get the lid past the threaded plastic. If you purchased from IKEA your drop lights have a plastic piece that can e screwed on to give everything a more finished look. Go ahead and use the nail to put a few holes in the lid as well. This will allow the heat to escape.

(Like this)

2.    Decide where you will want each jar positioned and mark the board. Drill a hole on each marking using a bit large enough that the wiring will have room to easily feed through. If you plan on painting or staining your wood you’ll want to do that before you begin. Didn’t do that? Go ahead and do that now & let it dry completely. You will want to research various hanging options and find the one that best suits your needs and taste.
3.       The lights have a plug at one end. Cut that plug off.  It feels SO wrong, but just do it – trust me. Feed each wire through its hole on the board.
4.       Use the wire strippers to remove the plastic coating from the end of each wire, being careful not to rip off the wire itself. You’ll want to determine the length you want for each pendant at this point. I used a spot of one of the wires as a reference point and after holding the others to the length I wanted, firmly zip-tied all of them together.
5.       Secure the frame to the ceiling. In my case, I built a shallow box with 4 - 2” x ¼” planks fastened into a square and attached it to the ceiling with L brackets, then used an 18” x 18” x ¼” board with the wires running through it and attached it to this frame once it was all wired together.
6.       Here’s the exciting part (and an extra set of hands is helpful)!!!
Separate the white-coated wires from the black-coated. Twist ALL of the white wires together including the one from the electrical box on the ceiling, secure a wire cap or wrap well with electrical tape. I used plenty of tape to ensure full coverage. You do not want ANY exposed wire or you’re risking fire. Repeat with the black wires.

Who doesn't love a beautifully coiled filament bulb?

7.    Once everything is insulated nicely, put in your bulbs; turn on the breaker and light switch to make sure that all of your pendants are working. If they are, go ahead and secure everything into place. For me this meant screwing the 5th board on to the frame.
8.    Secure the jars to the lids and stand back in awe of your beautiful new chandelier!

This is my finished fixture which hangs over our dining table. 
It's love.  
Total cost for my version? $50

5 Mason Jars: $15 at WorldMarket
5 drop lights: $15 at IKEA
Edison Filament bulbs: $12 (for 2) at Lowe’s
Bright white filament bulbs: $6 (for 3) at Lowe’s
Wood for frame: $10 at Lowe’s
Tools & small supplies: FREE – my love had them already

I hope you step out of your comfort zone and try this neat project.  There really is an awesome sense of accomplishment in having done it myself rather than shelling 350 extra dollars for a pre-made fixture.

Have you ever tried an extra-adventurous DIY project? What was it and how pleased were you with the results?


  1. I made wrap bracelets during an event that Vox Culture was hosting as a partnership with The Community Cloth.
    They turned out great! I'm in the process of writing the how-to as soon as I get off of my butt to finish it :p

  2. That's awesome! Can't wait to see it :)

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