17 November 2014

DIY: faux capiz shell chandelier, take two!

I have a really bad problem with getting songs in my head. A single word, or even just a situation, will cause a song to play at full volume in my head for hours, days if I’m unlucky. I’ve learned this doesn’t happen to everyone (coughMr.Pcough), and although I’m proud of my other musical talents, I’m super jealous of people who can go about their day without wondering what random phrase triggered the song now playing at 11 in their brain.

So yeah, I’m really tired of having Sia’s “Chandelier” in my head. Hopefully this blog post will cure it!

Perhaps you all remember this fairly disappointing faux capiz shell chandelier I made way back when?

I started making that thing in July of twenty eleven (that’s like six weeks after I started this whole blog), and it was the following March before it was ever hung on the ceiling. And yet...it was there less than a month before I took it down to sell the house. Honestly, the whole experience came thisclose to becoming a total Pinterest Fail, and really... I wasn’t ever quite happy with it. I’d made a gazillion of those strands of wax paper “shells”, and to be really pretty, it needed a gazillion more for me to be happy with it. Since I’d already had to make twice as many as I thought I would, I just... gave up.

When we were moving here, I came oh-so-close to just chucking the whole thing in the trash, figuring I’d cut my losses on the work I’d put into it thus far. But I did not. For some reason totally unknown to me at the time, I shoved it in a box with some other lampshades and hauled it here to St. Louis, where I then shoved it into an upper cabinet and ignored it for two and a half years.

Until. Until I realized I’d gotten over my annoyance at that old project and suddenly decided: Baby P needs a faux capiz shell chandelier over his changing table. Why not? If I could salvage those strands of shells, I already had it most of the way made. And it’d help clean out a cabinet, too! We all know how much I appreciate that!

The problem was, of course, that the frame had been just too big the first time, and the shells always looked sparse. I’d bought a big frame so it could fit over the existing light fixture, but this wasn’t going over a light. I could make it whatever size I wanted! So forget taking the time to buy a frame at Goodwill – I just found some scrap cardboard and plates instead.

Of course, a wire frame is more suitable if it’s going to be an actual light fixture, both to let the light through and prevent a fire hazard. But in my case, I just cut out a few circles.

Only trouble was that I wanted the frame to be white, to better blend in with the shells and ceiling. Now, if I lived in a house and spraypainting were NBD, I’d knock it out that way. Instead, I used white contact paper I already had on hand.

Uh, you should probably not use an X-acto knife on your carpet, by the way. NOT THAT I DID ANYTHING TO MY RENTED CARPET. I just don’t want to assume you have my delicate, not-carpet-ruining touch.

Anyway! The finished, covered frame pieces came out nice and white with smooth edges. Yes!

I also covered the smaller inner circle, but forgot to photograph it.

Then it was time to dig out the chandelier and salvage all those strands of faux shells. Basically, I had to untie the knots of thread where I’d attached over a hundred of those strands. It was tedious... but, I kept reminding myself, way less tedious that making the strands themselves. I won’t go through how I made the shells and the strands here, but the original blog post I wrote is fairly detailed, if you’re brave enough to try this.

To make sure I kept the shells all evenly spaced around the frame, I spread them out on the floor (late at night, sorry). And I confess, I busted out my calculator and did a few geometry calculations – finding the ratio of the circumference of the upper, bigger frame to the smaller, lower frame, so that I could appropriately divvy up the strands for each size. Sorry. Once a math nerd, always a math nerd.

Then, I used regular ol’ scotch tape to attach them to the cardboard frame. So much faster than tying (and later untying)!

Once all the shells were attached, I just attached the lower tier to the upper, also with some string and tape.

I went to the trouble of punching holes to attach string to hang it, though (don’t want the whole thing crashing down during a diaper change)!

Yes, I realize it looks like a total hot mess from this angle... like it could be another Pinterest Fail. If you’re wondering why I didn't trim all those tacky loose threads, remember: the reason I was able to salvage this project in the first place is because I made the first chandy un-doable. Because I left those threads long, I could ctrl-Z the whole thing and make this version. And who knows, maybe someday I’ll want to dismantle this one and attach to a (smaller) wire frame to put on a light fixture.

Anyway, my point is, don’t worry about those threads. If you look from another angle...

Boom! A faux capiz chandy I can finally be proud of!

And it’s even better hanging from the ceiling.

Even with that one strand all twisted (revealing the “inside”), it’s still eight million percent better than how it started. Look how pretty Baby P’s changing area is now!

Perhaps it’s not super interesting from the bottom... or maybe even a bit, uh, “ramshackle”... but that’s ok. It’s high enough up that he’s not going to notice it for a long time, anyway, and grownups probably won’t pay attention either.

I really couldn’t be more pleased that this near-fail turned into a win, in the end. I’m still not sure I’d do it all over again – it took FOR-EH-VER to make those one hundred-ish strands of faux shells, and that’s barely enough for even this small scale version (the diameter of a dinner plate and a dessert plate). But at least I recovered my time spent by creating something I love, eventually!

So how much did it take to clear out the cabinet and make something useful out of that old project? Here’s the breakdown:

Time spent:
Ignoring the massive amount of time before, this took me about fifteen minutes to make the cardboard frame, an hour to untie all those strands off the first stupid frame, an hour to assemble the thing, and another thirty minutes to hang (that was more complicated than I thought!) So several hours in the end, but broken up over a few weeknights, it was easy.

All those strands of faux capiz shells: already owned, thank goodness
Cardboard and contact paper for frame: already owned
Tape and string to assemble: already owned
Cup hook to hang from ceiling: already owned
Total cost: $0

So for zero dollars and not a lot of time, I cleared out a cabinet AND made something for Baby P’s nursery that makes me smile:

It even coordinates super nicely with the starry calder mobile on the other side of the room! Maybe Baby P’s nursery has a theme after all: recovered projects made with wax paper. Huh.

And with that, I can finally stop humming that chandelier song!


Michelle G. said...

Aww, it seems like you are all ready (well as ready as one can be for a life changing event like this)! I'll be sending you happy thoughts as D-day approaches!