Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bubble Ball Chandelier

OMG....I think this is one of my favorite DIY projects to date. Check it out:


HAWT. It's a glass bubble ball chandelier! Isn't is gorgeous?  

So in the last dining room update I mentioned that finding or making a chandelier was on the to-do list, because the pendant light that came with the house was, um....small. Observe:


We first spotted the bubble chandelier's likeness on a trip to CB2, where it was hanging in the store with no price tag.  I loved it, but Boyfriend was so smitten that he jumped on the computer as soon as we got home and googled it.  What he found was that a designer named Jean Pelle originally came up with this whimsical lamp in 2008 using glass spheres from CB2.  The best part about it is that she was originally featured in Readymade magazine, which included the FULL step-by-step DIY tutorial, huzzah!  In this post I'll be doing a step-by-step that focuses on the changes we made and clarifying some of the more vague parts in the tutorial. Also note that I said "we". Yes, Boyfriend and I teamed up on this one and it was just like being in college architecture studio again (minus the all-nighters and self-loathing)! 

FIRST we started by gathering materials. 
  • 8 large and 6 small bubble balls (CB2) - $47
  • 4" clear light bulbs (Amazon.com) - $15
  • 3 porcelain sockets with exposed wires (any hardware store) - $10
  • Canopy kit (any hardware store) $6
  • Lamp cord (cut to desired length) $1
  • White electrical tape - $3
  • Clear fishing line - already had
  • 14 white-coated paper clips - already had
  • Thin cotton string - already had
  • TOTAL COST: $82
NOTE: This was our first serious electrical project with real electrocution potential, so we did a lot of research before diving in and I recommend you do the same.  

I started off by screwing some light bulbs into their sockets and padding them with paper since I would be handling them a lot during the wiring process. I did this to allow the bulbs some room, but in hindsight this probably wasn't necessary. 

Now the important thing to remember when dealing with wiring is to put all the blacks with the blacks and the whites with the whites. That's right, it's electrical segregation! Your lamp wire will also have two wires that may or may not be colored. In my case, I went for a clear lamp wire which did not have the helpful colors, so I just had to remember which side was which (marking with a Sharpie helped). One of these will connect to your bunch of black wires and the other connects to your white ones. I gathered my wires together and stripped the plastic casing from the tips. I twisted these together and wrapped them with electrical tape. I also wrapped the black wires with my white electrical tape.



We both agreed that the cotton string macrame in Pelle's version threw off the balance of the design. The bubble cluster looks so beautifully weightless, so we wanted our version to reflect that. This is why we chose the single clear wire as our only support.

Once I had my cluster of light bulbs assembled, it was time to hook it up to the power. This video was very helpful in explaining how to change out a ceiling canopy (I only needed the first half since I wasn't installing a dome light.




Listen to the man and TURN OFF THAT ELECTRICITY before you stick your hands anywhere! Boyfriend did the honors and once we were sure the power was off, he unscrewed the old canopy took down the wee pendant lamp. We hooked up the new soon-to-be chandelier, making sure to trace the black line and white line through the clear wire, covered it with our new silver canopy and switched the power back on. I'll admit, there was a moment of uncertainty while I waited for Boyfriend to turn the power back on where I was covering my eyes for protection and clutching a fire extinguisher. Nothing happened though, other than the lights turning on beautifully! *phew*

Now we were finally ready to start hanging up some bubble balls. Instead of the acrylic rods that the recipe calls for (you can find these on Amazon, but note that 1/4" rods will be too big to fit through the holes in the bubble balls; go for 1/8") , I went with white-coated paper clips bent into the shape seen below. I used a fishing knot called a "trilene knot" to secure the fishing line to the paper clip (I'm not a fishing knot expert by any means, so I went with what seemed sturdy+easy to tie).




I used the same trilene knot to secure the other end to the lamp cord. You'll notice here that I've wrapped the "business area" where all the wires connect with very thin cotton string (over the electrical tape). The reason for this is two-fold: 1) it keeps the various loops of fishing line from sliding down and 2) it will help hide the stray ends of fishing line when everything has been hung (more on that in a bit).

Here's some progress. Four large bubble balls have been hung! I highly recommend two people for this part, one to hold the ball in place and the other to tie it to the cord. (If you're wondering where my black wires went, I wrapped them with white electrical tape too).


(Can you already tell that those sconces need to go? We didn't mind them before, but they completely don't match our uber-modern chandelier now.)

So once we secured all 14 of our bubble balls, it was time to clean up this mess:


As you can see in the above photo, I left myself a generous length of string at the top and have begun to wind it back down around the cord. As I work my way down, I will hide any fishing line ends under the string. This process is delicate and tedious, so be careful! Mine ended up being decent...it's not the prettiest thing in the world--lumpier than I would like--but it does the job.

So that's how we did it! Here it is in the room:


And a little before-after action:



<3

10 comments:

  1. Very cool, I love it!

    It's like Lady Gaga and Thomas Edison had a baby!

    Katy

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    1. Glad you like it, and I LOVE that analogy!

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  2. I've always shied away from projects involving the possibility of electrocution as well...but I might just risk it, if the result looks as good as yours! Thanks for the pics!

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    1. This was my first electrical project as well, so we were just overly cautious every step of the way. Lots of internet research before-hand helped us to get it right!

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  3. I love fun lights and this is great. So fun and different. I am sure you are loving the new look!

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  4. Fabulous! I love bubble light fixtures, and the two of you did a great job creating your own version. So fun!

    My hubby and I created a non-functioning version of a bubble light fixture (it's more of an art piece).

    Kelly

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  5. Lovely! Is it hard to keep clean?

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    1. It is not difficult, but not SO easy. We pass by it with a swiffer duster occasionally, and use windex, a paper towel, and rubber gloves to do some delicate cleaning less frequently. You just have to be careful not to bump the glass around too much.

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  6. Found you via Google. Great projects. Looks very clean, mod, and classy. I'm planning to make a similar one for my breakfast area. The light is gonna be on for most of the evening. How has this been holding up? Does the glass over heat?

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    1. Hi Vidya, thanks for stopping by!
      I've never had a problem with the heat, and I've had the light for many hours at a time. Even all day once.
      I would say the only inconvenience is that it tends to be a little difficult to clean since I have to delicately wipe it down with Windex every now and then. Worth it though :)

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