Monday, October 7, 2013

Waxing Poetic

So I haven't updated in a while because I got it in my head to make another light fixture. This one, unlike the one I made for the laundry room, took a little longer than expected. About a week to be exact.

I'm sure you've seen the capiz shell chandeliers in decor magazines and websites. They have a wonderful texture and soft presence that makes it feel as though there is a fancy hovering jellyfish of light in the room.

Unfortunately, those lamps come with a cost. A $$$ cost. This guy is at Pottery Barn and he's way beyond what I would ever pay for a shade, stunning or not.

Bleh. You kidding me!? No way!

After some online research, I found a tutorial on how to make one at a fraction of the cost. Due to material availability, I knew I would need to change a couple of things, but otherwise, I felt that this was the way to go.

My goal was to cover the dome light that we had in our front room. I was hoping to make the shade so that I could flush mount it against the light that was already there, thus saving money on materials and labor.

I was hoping it would add just a touch of drama to an otherwise (currently) bland room. We only have a couple pieces of furniture in there so far, so it just needed something to dress it up.

I began by grabbing two rolls of wax paper from Kroger. I then ran over to Michaels were I used a coupon and brought home a couple of spools of ribbon, some hot glue sticks (we already have a glue gun at home), and two different sized wreath frames.

These would make up the two tiers of the chandelier. The reason I didn't use the original tutorial's recommendation of a hanging planter basket is because I couldn't find one that had two horizontal bands. I only found baskets that were made up of the main horizontal band (the rim of the basket) connected to the wire that made up the basket itself. Because I knew I wanted my light to be tiered, I figured that if I used the wreath frames instead, I could also control how far down to mount the second tier of the light.

I ended up with an 18 in. and 12 in. wire wreath frames. I had previously measured the dome light to make sure that the larger of the wreath frames would be large enough to go completely around the outside of it.

I then used some Rustoleum white spray paint that I had in the garage to paint them both white to better blend in with the ceiling.

While those were drying, the real working for what felt like forever fun began. I set myself up in the living room in front of the TV with a Netflix marathon of Grey's Anatomy and began to iron my wax paper.

When the wax paper is ironed and cut, it really does give the same affect as the real capiz shell. The tutorial I was using said that three layers was enough for the texture to be correct, but I chose to do 4 layers because I felt that it also made each 'shell' thicker and stiffer than with just the three layers.

I started by cutting two pieces of wax paper about the same size. It doesn't need to be exact because you're going to be trimming it anyway.

Line them up with each other as best you can.

Then, fold them in half so that there are four layers of wax paper lined up.

Now, be sure your iron is set to a middle temperature and that you are using an old ironing board. If you don't have an old one, be sure to put an old pillow case or fabric over it because it will absorb the extra wax that comes off the bottom of the paper as you iron. Begin ironing at the crease and work your way out, being sure not to stop and let the iron rest on the wax paper so it doesn't melt.

When you have ironed it so it feels stiff when cooled, like a piece of craft paper from Michaels, be sure to square off the sheet by cutting off the uneven excess on the outside edge.

I then used my 2 in hole punch and began trying to cut out my 'shells'. Unfortunately, wax paper isn't as stiff as real paper, so it takes some wiggling to get it to cut sometimes, but I can't imagine having cut out all of the circles without a circle cutter of some sort.

Then, I re-ironed my circles. I felt like it made each 'shell' more cohesive and realistic. The two on the left haven't been ironed and the one on the right has. See how much nicer it looks?

After I couldn't stand ironing and cutting wax paper anymore a good batch of these had been completed (probably close to 50 for my first go around, though throughout the process I had to sit down multiple times and make more), I grabbed my newly whitened wreath frames from the garage and hung the larger of the two from the ceiling. We happened to have a hook there from the woman that lived here before, so I grabbed some yard that I had and hung it at sitting-on-the-ground-eye-level-working-height to make the assembly part easier on myself.

I had figured out how long I wanted each hanging portion to be and cut the ribbon accordingly earlier. I simply looped it around the wreath and let it keep itself in place. No real reason to hot glue it in place because it makes hanging the whole thing easier in the long run.

Then I was ready to put the thing together. I put the tiniest dab of hot glue at the top of a shell, then worked from the bottom of the ribbon upwards to give it a layered effect.

When you get going with it, it really starts to come together pretty quickly. It does take some time, but the overall look makes it worth it.

I kept getting caught up in how cool the textures were and how they were coming together. The photographer side of me had a field day.

And I really liked how you could see the ribbon through the shells. I know that seems odd, but it adds some shape to an otherwise soft cloud.

One of my biggest concerns was the way that it would filter the light. I was afraid that it would be a little too much or too little, but to be honest, it ended up being just right.

A couple of hour later, I finally finished the larger part of the overall chandelier.

I decided to go ahead and mount the larger portion of it to the ceiling so that I could see how big to make my second tier ribbons accordingly. I held it up to the light and......oh no! It doesn't fit! All that work for nothing! I had gotten an 18 in. wreath frame, yes, but the 18 in. accounted for the outer-most wire circle, not the inner circle.

My solution was to cut out that which I didn't need. I hung it up on a hook and used wire cutters to cut out the inner rings of the frame. Afterwards, wouldn't cha know it? It fit perfectly!

See? Only two of the four original rings left. Win!

I then pre-drilled and screwed in hooks around the dome light itself. The hooks were pretty small, so I used five of them to hold up my shade. If you are making a larger shade or want to hang it a different way, check the tutorial cited earlier for more information. My flush mount worked really well for the hide-the-ugly-dome-light effect I was going for, though.

Then, just hang it up! Twisting the hooks to get them to catch the shade is probably the easiest technique for this. Then stand back and bask. Doing so may show you that you may want to make adjustments or move around some of your ribbons to cover the sides better. I was pretty pleased with mine so far.

And, of course, I had to see what it looked like with the light on. It did make me realize that we need to replace the 'brilliant white' bulbs in the dome.

Happily reinvigorated for the remainder of the project, I quickly repeated the creation and assembly instructions and put together the 12 in. second tier of the light with little effort.

Then, using the same ribbon that is holding the 'shells', I tied it to the upper tier that was already hung. I did it this way because it allows easier access to the dome light if we need to change a bulb or replace it for any reason. Using the same ribbon also camouflages the hanging apparatus.

When it was all together, I was super excited to not have to cut out any more wax paper circles! It looked great and Scott even likes it a lot. So far it's been hearing such rave reviews as, "Oh, when did that get there?" and "How long as this been up?". Love my friends.

It's just one more step towards having a more usable front room. Right now, it's just nice knowing that when people enter our home, they have something nice to be greeted by.

Does this inspire you to make a wax paper capiz shell chandelier? I can see this in a lot of different configurations in a lot of rooms. You could even replace the wax paper with interesting scrapbook paper circles instead! With an entire project that costs around $25 and a couple of hours, there are so many possibilities!

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