Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Bubble Chandelier: Pinterest Challenge!


I've painted the shade on my chandelier black.  Read more about it here!
It's Pinterest Challenge day!

What's Pinterest Challenge day do you say?  Well it's a challenge hosted by Sherri at Young House Love and Katie at Bower Power!  Everyone who wants to participate whips up a project inspired by something they saw on Pinterest and then links up to show theirs!

Well, omgosh am I excited to reveal this project!  I just about killed myself trying to finish it, and I'm pretty sure Tim is ready to strangle me as well. 

But ladies and gentlemen, I finally, finally, finally have a bubble chandelier to hang over my dining table!
Omgosh isn't she gorgeous?  I think I'll name her Sally.  After Sally Fields...because she'll never go out of style.  Right?  Anyone?

Anyways, this project was one of the hardest things I've ever accomplished in my home- but it ended up being a fairly simple project at the end of the day.

Let me first back up to where this idea first started.  A long time ago, back when Glee was decent and I didn't ever forget to watch it (like I forgot last night), there was an episode where the kids dressed up as Lady Gaga characters and Tina wore a dressed covered in glass bubbles- very cute!
Around the same time, I decide to make a capiz chandelier based on an idea I read once that ironed wax paper looks like capiz shells.  Intriguing, yes?  So I was googling a tutorial for that and typed in "DIY chandelier" and a couple tutorials for bubble chandeliers came up.  When I saw where the bubbles came from, I discovered they're the same bubbles that they used in Tina's outfit in Glee!  I was intrigued, and thought about it endlessly for the next few months, thinking that one day, I would most definitively make my own bubble chandelier.

Well, months and months passed and the idea sort of just slipped my mind until I discovered Pinterest and started seeing a bunch of bubble chandeliers again:

Now I was re-obsessed, and in a moment of wildness, I just ordered some of the glass bubbles that everyone uses from CB2.  $30 later, I owned 3 large and 6 small bubbles.  Yet I never made a plan for how I was going to make my light fixture.

The two main tutorials around are this one and this one.

The first is an elaborate chandelier constructed in a boutique shop and looks amazing.  It's 2X4 feet wide, uses 90 bubbles, and mixes in some silver Christmas ornaments for optimum shine.  
The second is much simpler- it just takes three bubble shaped light bulbs and mixes them in with small bubbles, all becoming entwined together into one long wire at the top.
I was in love with the first one, and even though it wasn't going to work quite right in my condo, I was planning on adapting it to my space.

First things first, I gathered my supplies:

  • Nine bubbles (3 large, 6 small)
  • A 12 in X 12 in wire grid, one that comes in those packs of the build-your-own-cubbies things at Target (we used those to build a bunny cage)
  • Wire cutters
  • Paperclips
  • Fishing Wire
The first step was to get the wire to attach to the bubbles.  What I did was to tie one end of the fishing wire to a crook in a paper clip.
 Then I twisted the clip so it made a little loopty-do, and cut off the ends for a smaller little stick that would stay in the bubble.

To build the actual chandelier that I wanted to hang, I simple tied the bubbles to the wire grid in alternating heights. 

The next part of my plan was pretty simple.  I was planning on getting three light kits from Ikea, stripping the wires down and tying them together to hard wire into the ceiling.  Why light kits from Ikea?  Because they're four dollars, simple as that.  They're long and cheap and easy to use.  But, Ikea is a 40 minute drive away and we just never had time to drive down there.  No big deal, we could look for a light kit elsewhere.  

Unfortunately, it seemed that every store was out the first time we looked.  A few days later, we finally found a kit already ready to be wired into the ceiling, but the wire was really short and I didn't want to have to attach multiple wires that would be showing.  Thankfully, right about then we found a pendent light kit that was cheap and pretty and exactly what we were looking for.

....Except here came another road block.  The part that's supposed to hold the actual shade didn't fit through one of the holes in our wire grid, so we couldn't secure it.  And when we tried to thread it through from the bottom, it was so topply and unstable that it definitely couldn't be hung up by that.  Plus, the oil-rubbed bronze (ORB) finish looked odd with the white grid.
So after a minor (major) meltdown by me that resulted in my pouting on the couch with a glass of wine for the rest of the night,  Tim and I finally figured out that there's a super simple way to build a bubble chandelier.

Before I go on, I should probably explain how I was originally planning to hang up the chandelier- I was going to hang the square grid by all four corners attached to some chain on four hooks on the ceiling.  Then the three light kits would twist together and just be hardwired into the ceiling, covered with a simple white cap.  Then, since that would look pretty weird, I was planning on wrapping the exposed area around the top with some sort of fabric cover that would hide the ugly.  Eventually I realized that it would make it really hard to access the electrical box this way, and I realized that by "fabric wrap," I probably just meant a lamp shade.
Hopefully that picture makes sense.  I exaggerated it a little so that you guys could see what I'm talking about- the lampshade would actually be above the grid, not below.  

The only real problem with this plan was that the shade needed to be at least 20" in diameter to fit around the wire grid.  And those are expensive.  In fact, the cheapest one I could find was $100 and I didn't even love it.  

But I was even more determined to finish this chandelier.  So Tim and I started hunting and discovered that we really really really like a black shade like this:
Wouldn't that look amazing with bubbles cascading out of it?  However, after much more searching, the only black shade we could find was 16" diameter and $80.  We were entirely planning on just splurging on it, but decided to try a few more stores in person.  Thank goodness we did, because after seeing a 16" lamp shade in person, we decided it was just too big for our tiny condo.  

So, we ended up with a 14" silver string lampshade that's 6" tall.  It wasn't black, which was kind of disappointing, but it was $14.  And it was kinda cool, it's wrapped in silver strings all the way around and gives it a cool textured vibe.  Maybe one day I can get some black dye up there?  I wonder if that would work?
Plastic is still on in this picture!
Sorry for the horrible quality pics from here on out, but it was 10:30 by this time!  I was tired and cranky and had bad lighting- oh the irony!
Anyway, so the process from here out is relatively simple.  We just hardwired the light into the ceiling, hung it on an anchored hook to be centered over the table, and started to attach the bubbles to the study metal wires in the lampshade.
3 bubbles in...
4 bubbles in...

I put this one up to show you what it looks like!  6 bubbles in!
Let me tell you, it's pretty hard to keep the thing even and level while attaching nine bubbles to it.  It's also pretty hard to tie them up while keeping them at the height you want and while your fingers are all greasy from eating cookies- you can see a lot of fingerprints in some of the pictures- definitely will need to clean those off soon!

But eventually I got them all up and I'm in love with it!  I better be, I've been lusting after it for over a year, right?  Some changes I would still make though- making the shade black, and getting a much brighter light bulb (I accidentally bought one with super low lumins, but energy efficient globe lights are hard to come by!

You can also see that we have two broken bubbles (thanks Tim!), but I hung them up anyway because they were still hang-able.  Maybe they add charm?  We can always replace them at any time, so I'm not too worried about them right now.

The best part is that I've also always wanted a simple pendent lampshade over my dining table, and now I have both!  I can't wait to complete our table refinishing job and get that nice dark wood table and some creamy white leather parson chairs in there...oh my...


  1. This is very pretty looking and creative. Good job.

  2. I love it!!! Great job! (You also made me realize my Glee hasn't been taping... sad, but maybe it's because it hasn't mad an impression that I didn't even notice!)

  3. It will be super easy to make black: just buy some black fabric, and reupholster. I did this with an IKEA lampshade to make it a fabric that matched my bedroom. You can hot glue it easily, and as long as you make the seam towards the top, nobody will ever know.

  4. I did not notice any fingerprints of shame!!!! I also didn't notice the broken ones until I went back and looked so maybe that's just my observation skills.

  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! What a great job, you are so clever! You know how much I love bubbles!!! xo

  6. Glad you stuck with it. It looks great. And I'm so glad that I'm not the only one who gave up on Glee.


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