Friday, March 27, 2015

Tweak of the Week

When we last left our kitchen, it was looking pretty bright, fresh, and very close to my mental image of its full potential.

The original intention of our pendant lights was for them to act as task lighting for our peninsula, but now that we have the can lights, the room is pretty evenly flooded with bright, useful light. That's when it occurred to me that our pendants could stay, but could act more as accents to the room rather than work lights.

I have been pinning kitchens for years that have caught my eye. Something I hadn't noticed till recently was what they had in common: their pendants were mostly clear, globe shades with exposed bulbs. Here is a perfect example from Southern Living.

I looked up a couple of these lights and found that they were completely out of our price range (especially since we already had working lights there). $100 each? Heck no. West Elm can keep 'em.

It was time for a little DIY.

I decided that this was certainly something I could tackle on my own. I researched glass cutting on Pinterest and found many tutorials on how to cut holes in glass. The issue I ran across was that the hole that they would show being cut was kind of small. They were able to use a large bit and do a single cut. I had to make a hole large enough to feed in the part that sandwiches the shade which was much larger.

I looked at large diamond tipped bits (for glass cutting) at Home Depot and Lowes. The smallest one they had was $20...for one bit. After I was able to recover from the shock, I regained my senses...and headed to Harbor Freight.

Anyone who frequently DIYs knows that Harbor Freight is the best.

I wasn't able to find any drill bits there, but I was able to get a multi bit diamond tip set for my Dremel for around $7. Score.

I also grabbed two $6 fishbowls from Michaels and a can of Metallic Silver Rustoleum spray paint from Home Depot. All in all, the project probably cost us $20 in all.

I began by covering my fishbowls in painter's tape. This would help give the bit purchase when I first got started. It also kept it from hitting the glass if the Dremel jumped while I was cutting. I then cut a circle the size of the hole I needed (using the old lampshade as a template) and cut it out. I placed it on the painters tape, lined it up with the center of the flat part (which I had marked on the tape earlier), and drew around the edges with a permanent marker.

When the template was removed, it looked like this.

Next, I took it out to the garage where I had created a little work station on the workbench. This included water (in a spray bottle or cup), my Dremel, my bits, a lights, and an old towel. The towel is nice because it both soaks up the old water and keeps the fishbowl from getting scratched up by any small glass bits or the table itself.

And always remember. Safety! There will be bits of flying glass and glass powder, so I absolutely recommend safety glasses.

University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts hoodie and/or degree is not required.

I also had my hair back to keep it away from the Dremel's Spinning Bit of Hair Pulling. In other words, I don't recommend doing this wearing a three piece suit.

Maybe with a bowtie. Bowtie's are cool.


I began by pouring some water over my tape. The water will keep the bit from overheating against the glass, so be sure to frequently re-wet your working area. Then I began by essentially drawing the circle in with my bit.

After this step is done, the rest is actually pretty easy. I just kept repeating the circle. Over and over.

It takes a little pressure, but by no means do you need to get stabby with this project. Remember to keep the surface wet and just stay with it. The bit does most of the work.

Eventually you'll break through to the other side. The bottom of the bowl is going to be thicker than the glass around the sides, so this project is actually a lot easier than it looks. When you break through, you can use the side of your bit to continue cutting through.

Once you get most of the way around, you can either continue till it naturally breaks from the vibration of the Dremel, or you can use LIGHT PRESSURE to press on the circle and let it break on your own terms. Once the circular chunk of glass is gone, you can clean up your edges with the side of your Dremel bit.

I would go back and forth making sure that the fitting in the light would fit in the hole. When I was done, I removed the painters tape and used an old sponge (remember, glass bits everywhere) and some dish soap to clean it up.

Here is a side by side with our old shades.

Mmmmm. So good.

I repeated this process exactly for the other bowl. The entire process for one shade takes about 30 or 40 minutes.

While I had originally gotten white pendant bases, I felt that silver would really help these stand out a little better. I had issues removing the bases from the ceiling, so I just painted them while they were up. I have never done a makeshift spray booth before, but it wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be. I actually just used some printer paper and taped it around the ceiling portion. The "walls" were made with a 99 cent drop cloth from Home Depot. The bases were primed, then painted in the Metallic Silver.

Once they were sprayed, had dried, and were put back together, I was finally able to do some final assembly. This included replacing the bulbs with a couple Edison bulbs to really add interest. We wouldn't have done this before because they cast a much more yellow light, but as an accent, the Edison's are so fun. They are actually dimmable, too, which is nice because we already had a dimmer switch installed.

When they were all together, they really made the space feel magazine-y. It feels very high end, but obviously not at a high price.

Here's the finished product!

Making these glass globes really made me feel like I can tackle so many more projects that might involve glass in the future. What do you think? Would this little guide help you feel more comfortable cutting glass for your own craft needs? I hope so! 


  1. Kitchen looks really great! I now notice the stained ceiling, so maybe a ceiling paint party?

  2. It's not stained, it's actually just the weird ceiling texture. We do need to paint it, though, because the patch for the previous light doesn't match the ceiling. It's on the list, lol.