16 February 2012

DIY: faux capiz shell chandelier

Today’s DIY is... a doozy. That sums it up, actually. The end!

Okay, I’ll elaborate. Why is it a doozy? Well, let’s just say I originally hoped that I could finish and post about this project back in JULY. OF LAST YEAR. SEVEN MONTHS AGO. For some reason I can totally demolish and rebuild a kitchen or laundry room in under two weeks, but a more minor project can take the better part of a year. I’d attribute it to the love-hate relationship I have with it, except I invariably develop that with every project.

This is the photo on Pinterest that started the madness (from here):

That’s a faux capiz-shell chandelier, “faux” because the shells are made from wax paper. Dude! How cool is that! I wanted my own faux capiz chandy, but it seemed a bit time-consuming.

However, my dear friend responded thusly on Pinterest:

So now you know who to blame for the madness! (Seriously, though. Love you M!)

Anyway, here’s the original post I used as the source to make my faux capiz chandelier, though there are many others out there. For starters, I needed a lampshade. I found one at Goodwill for super-cheap:

And then I took great joy in ripping off the nasty, stained fabric. I know it doesn’t look like that bad in the photo below, but I sort of wanted to wear HazMat gloves when touching it.

Once all the grody fabric was off, I spray-painted it white, and tied fine-gauge wire (which I already had) around the frame to create a “middle tier” for the faux shells to hang from.

It would have made more sense but also taken more foresight to tie on the wire before spraypainting. But I lack both. I also lacked more spraypaint since I used the last of a sputtering can, and I lacked the initiative to go out for more.

Anyway, with my frame ready, it was time to start making shells! I’ll leave it to the source for detailed shell-making photographs, but the gist is that I ironed together three pieces of wax paper on medium heat, protecting both my iron and ironing board with a piece of parchment paper on either side. And it took SO MUCH WAX PAPER. I think I ended up using at least ten triple-layered 12x18” sheets – which is about 45 feet of wax paper.

Then I cut them out with a 1” circle punch. Yes, I splurged and bought a punch for maybe $8. Unfortunately my punch wasn’t powerful enough to cut more than one circle at a time (unlike the punch at the source), but it was still way better than cutting out over a thousand 1” circles with scissors. Worth it.

There are several methods out there for how to turn a jabillion little wax-paper circles into strands of capiz shells, and I tried several of them. Here’s the way that worked best for me. First, I cut out 16” (or so) lengths of white thread, and hot-glued the very end of each thread to a “shell”.

It takes A LOT OF STRANDS to make a convincing capiz chandy, so I tried to get the hot-gluing done in large batches. For the rest of the shells, I decided to sew them like so, by hand-stitching the thread through one side:

And then back through the opposite side (yes, a thimble is a must for this part):

Repeat ad nauseum.

In the end I made over 100 strands with twelve “shells” each. And that is exactly where I kept losing interest. At one point I thought I’d made enough (like 40 strands) and started tying them on the frame, only to discover...

Yeah. That looks ridiculously bad. It was so, so disappointing. Conclusion: you need a WAY MORE STRANDS THAN YOU THINK.

In retrospect, I probably – no, definitely – should have bought a smaller lampshade. But by that point, the crazy had kicked in and I was going to finish this project, just watch me. So, I stuck it out and made more. SO MANY MORE. Then I burned out again, so our office floor looked like this for another month or so:

After rolling over those with the wheels of the office chair for a month or two, I finally, finally, spent an entire morning tying the strands onto the lampshade frame I’d prepared, by this point, the previous year.

Ultimately, I created something that looks much more like a capiz chandy! Who knew! Huzzah!

Yes, it is flippin’ huge. And it could probably use more strands of “shells” to make it look more like the source above. But really, for now? I’m done. The only issue now is that instead of hanging from the ceiling, it’s sitting here...

... still waiting to be hung. Which is going to be a bit of a problem-solving exercise, I think. But when it’s done, I’ll let you know how I did it! Until then, here’s the project breakdown thus far:

Time spent:
SEVEN MONTHS. Okay, not all of seven months. But prepping and painting the lampshade, getting out the iron board to press the wax paper (several times, since I kept underestimating), punching all those circles, cutting all the string, hot-gluing all the ends, sewing on all the shells, and tying them on? Twenty hours at least. I would not have been surprised if it were more like forty. Making a faux capiz chandy could be your full-time occupation for a week or so.

Lampshade: $1.50
Circle punch: $8
Wax paper: $3 (I had to get more halfway through)
Spraypaint, wire for extra tier, iron and parchment paper for pressing the wax paper, needle and thread, hot glue gun and glue sticks: already owned
Total cost: $12.50 (and a metric crapton of patience)

The low cost definitely balances the time spent, doesn’t it? And if you really, REALLY want a capiz chandy but really can’t splurge on a real one, this is definitely the way to do it. However, if you are slightly ambivalent about capiz chandeliers... maybe sit this one out. True, you can’t resist admitting that the finished product is pretty convincing even if you are filled with resentment for the project by that point... but it’s a long road to get there.

If you give it a try, let me know! Better yet, if you want to make more strands of faux shells to tie on mine, I especially want to know.


Christal said...

does making X strings need to be our payment for our sleepover in May? :-)

Miranda said...

Sorry! :)

Sarah said...

Haha, Christal, I think that chandelier is going to be the least of my worries by May! And Miranda, you were right, it WAS worth the time and effort, even if I didn't realize just how much it would take :)

Tina said...

I could've helped... still can if you want more to fill it out. Thinking of a way to expedite making the strands - wondering if you could iron/seal the string between two double waxpaper circles...? A lot of standing at the ironing bd. rather than sewing - but I think I'd prefer that to using the dreaded thimble. Also, can you get a 2"punch? I'm going to look - I'd like to have one that size and it would fill in even faster... jus' sayin' <3 U!