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You Light Up My Life!

Grab yourself a soft-drink, and make yourself comfortable.

Prepare for the details of the long-awaited chandelier project I've been pre-posting about for the past few weeks.

I've teased, "coming soon" over and over again, and for that I am sorry. It wasn't deliberate.  I guess that's just what happens when a project takes longer than anticipated.  Much longer!

I am hoping once you have read through this "how to" post, you'll have compassion on this blogger's soul (and her torn and tattered typing fingers that made hundreds of faux capiz strands)!

Let's start at the very beginning...

A few months ago, I was staring (enviously) at this dreamy chandelier from West Elm

...and staring angrily at the $299.00 price tag.  I wondered, why must pretty things be so dang expensive?  

As much as I loved this little lady, I couldn't find it in my heart (or wallet) to take the plunge and commit. Then one day, I had a light-bulb moment, when I stumbled across a DIY'd faux capiz lamp project and realized I could probably make the fixture myself for an affordable price!  (And, yes...I think there was a little bit of dancing that took place during that moment..)

And so I created a plan...

The original plan involved building a frame and drilling out the holes for some Ikea light-kits (see the light-bulb moment link above).  But then one night, I thought, "there has to be an easier way."

It begged the question: What is already rectangular, and is the size that I need???


At this point, using the picture frame was just an idea floating around in my head, but then came the Pinterest Challenge from Young House Love, Bower Power, Style by Emily, and Making a House a Home. They challenged creative minds everywhere to not just pin, but act instead!

It was exactly the push I needed, but I knew I had to act quickly.  The deadline was just beyond the weekend, and time was already counting down!

So off to Ikea I went, and when I returned I was faced with a few challenges.  First, I didn't realize that the backing and the glass would be so difficult to remove from the frame; but, I soon learned they had been stapled and glued...nice and tight!

Finally, after some stellar effort, I was able to remove both the backing and the glass.

A few weeks earlier I had experimented with the faux capiz, and I found the best way (in my opinion) to get a good look-a-like was to iron multiple sheets of wax paper together. 

To add more dimension and realism, I made various thicknesses.  For some, I only ironed together three sheets, but for others I ironed together four.  This created various textures and opacities, and the bubbles and veins between the wax paper looked almost like real shell.

After cutting the sheets of ironed wax paper down to 1.5"x2.5", I used jewelry clasps from Michaels to make hundreds of strands of faux capiz.  To get the look I wanted the strands were made at various lengths (3, 4, and 5 long).

I'm not kidding...I made hundreds...(you can read more about this process here).

Ha!  They look like faux-capiz lasagna!  

But here's where things got tricky...

Originally, my plan was to make the chandelier as a one-lighter.  I thought this would be best because then I could use the light socket, chain, and cover from the existing light fixture.  

But guess what? ...the existing fixture was very ugly...

...and so I thought I could use something like this from Home Depot to make it look prettier...

And how would that work, you might ask?  

Well, in my "life is perfect" mind, I imagined the fixture could magically be held up and balanced by sandwiching the frame's backing (with a drilled out hole) between the pendant shade and the pendant socket cover.

I'll pause for a moment while you laugh..........trust me, I get it.  

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this plan would have never worked, but I told you this chandelier evolved over time, right?

Well, long story, short...that led me to this disaster:

I'll let you read all about that in my previous post, but to sum things up, I quickly found my plan to use the frame's backing and the little light from Home Depot would not work.  Not even if I sprinkled it with fairy dust!

Please pardon my cheesiness...it's just that now, when I look back, I can see how much of a fairytale I was living in at that time.  It's like I was hoping my Fairy Godmother would come to turn this little board into a beautiful chandelier, and a pumpkin into a carriage!

And so I moved on...

But this time, I called in some recruits.  

I started brainstorming with my husband, Mark, and together we drew up a few possibilities.  It really helped to get another viewpoint on the project, and it increased the creative flow of ideas.  We could each offer our ideas and then talk out the potential conflicts that might arise.

Eventually, with twice the brain power working on the project, Mark and I found a way to turn the chandelier into a two-light fixture.

Here's what we did...

First, we started by using the glass panel that came with the frame to measure two boards that we fit inside the width of the picture frame.  Since the glass was already cut to size by the manufacturer, it made it easy to know where to cut.

Next, we drilled holes in the boards, and also cut out a large rectangle from the backing that originally came with the frame.  Yep, that's right...we salvaged the piece that I thought I had destroyed on my first attempt!

Placement here was pretty important.  We had to be careful to get the order right.  First you place the two cut boards inside the frame (just like you would the glass), and then you place the backing right back where it originally came from.

But, in case you forgot, I had unstapled the backing, so I had to use some tacks to nail the backing back into place.

Then I measured two rows at the spacing I wanted.  The backing was cut down to a 2" border, so I marked one row at 3/4", and one row at 1 3/4".  Then I made little tick-marks every half-inch around each of the rows.

Once I had the markings as a reference, I used my hot glue gun to glue the jewelry clasps onto the frame backing, along the rows that I had drawn...and for the third row, I just used the edge between the backing and the frame.

To hide the wires going up to the ceiling, we used PVC riser pipe from the landscaping section at Home Depot.  They were really inexpensive, and they also already had screw threads on each end.  This made it really easy to attach a washer and a nut to the top and bottom of each pipe, to attach each end to the fixture.

Next, we had to figure out how to hide the hole from the existing fixture...so I made a quick trip to Savers, and found this little guy for $1.99...but a 50% off sale brought it down to only $1.00.

Once we had collected all of the pieces for our plan, I gave everything a few good coats of spray paint. For this project, I used Rustoleum's metallic finish paint in a dark finish.

To hold the weight of the chandelier, we used another cut piece of board...but first we did a test run to make sure the chandelier would be parallel to the wall.  This was tricky because it was difficult to eyeball...but we did our best.

Once we knew that everything would hang straight, Mark assembled the fixture.  For the light sockets themselves, we just used the one that was housed in the original fixture, and we also stole the light from the chandelier that was hanging in our breakfast nook.  They were identical lights, and we planned on replacing the fixture in the nook eventually, so we figured we might as well just take it down now, but if you don't have any existing light fixtures to re- purpose, you can find inexpensive light kits at Ikea.

Once everything was assembled, we attached the board to the existing electrical box, wired everything back up, and covered the wires with the little frame from Savers, held in place by two screws on the narrow end of the frame.

(PS...I know it kinda looks like Mark is "flipping the bird" here, but he's really just holding the chandelier up.  You don't really think about finger placement when you're working on stuff like this, so please don't take offense.)

Once that was done, all we had to do was hang the strands of wax paper...hundreds of strands of wax paper.

Fortunately, we decided it actually looked best if we skipped every-other hook (which brought the spacing between each strand to 1 inch, instead of 1/2").  This saved us a lot of time, and we both agree the fixture would have looked too crowded if we put all of the strands of wax paper on.

It was well into the night by the time we finished, but here are a few shots that we snapped:

It was difficult to get a good shot, but the light looked so beautiful coming through the strands of wax paper!

And just in case you were wondering, the wax paper does not touch the bulbs themselves, which means we don't have to worry about it melting...or worse, catching on fire!

Now, I'm sure you're wondering the cost break down, so here's the grand total:

$ 5.00--2 rolls of wax paper @ $2.50 each

$39.00--13 packages of Findings Jewelry Essentials (144 count) @ $2.99 each

$12.00--2 cans Rustoleum metallic finish spray paint @ $5.99 each

$10.00--1 Erikslund picture frame from Ikea

$ 1.00--1 picture frame from Savers

$ 2.80--2 PVC Riser Pipes from Home Depot

$ 1.00--1 Package of fastening nuts from Home Depot

$ 1.60--4 washers at $.40 each.

$ 0.00--2 light kits, already had from existing fixtures

$ 0.00--1 board, already had from previous project

$ 0.00--Hot glue, already had from previous projects

$ 0.00--Sweat equity, brain power, and time

$72.40--Total cost!!!!

But now that you know how to make it, you could even save some cash because I found I did not need all of those jewelry fasteners...and they were the most expensive part!

So there we go!  It's finally done, and I'm absolutely in love with it!  But what do you think?  Was it worth the time that went into it?  

I think so!

PS...Want to learn more about making faux capiz from wax paper?  Click here for a video tutorial.



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Reader Comments (86)

WOW!!! This is so impressive!
I found your project through the Bower Power web site. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I am going to pin it right away. :-)

August 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNichole

Thanks Nichole!

I couldn't find a good tutorial to reference when I started this project, so I wanted to make sure my description provided the details. It was quite the journey, to say the least!

Now that the project is done, it's interesting to me to see the areas where I could have been more efficient (and saved more money), but I'm hoping my mistakes will save someone else time and money down the road!

Thanks for checking in!

Bye for now, Kelli

August 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??!! Seriously, that is TO.DIE.FOR!! I can't believe it looks so flippin' realistic!! I can't get over it!!! The best part is that it looks so legit that nobody would ever guess otherwise. You are AWESOME!!! oh my gosh, I can't get over it!!!

August 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

Thanks Jessica!

You are way too nice! Though, I must admit that I was so happy with it I wanted to sleep in my dining room that night! haha!

Thanks for checking in!

xo, Kelli

August 10, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

I followed the link from Pinterest. You, & your hubby, did an amazing job. I love functional creativity and you nailed it on the head. You should pat each other on the back then rub each others shoulders after hanging all of those chains up. I truly love how that turned out and now it has me thinking. Plus you are right, lighting fixtures are so pricey but now, again thanks to you, we can all start thinking about making our own lighting fixtures. Good Job!

August 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

You are some sort of miracle worker - you actually made me believe in fairytales again! I've been daydreaming about that West Elm lamp for months but just can't deal with the price tag...I'm not as crafty as you, but I will continue to study your blog until I can work up the courage to try the lamp myself. Thank you so much for sharing this!

August 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBeth

Seriously blushing right now! Each of you are so kind!

Angela, I'm definitely going for the shoulder rub! The funny thing is that my legs were sore the next day from balancing on the ladder! Mark is lucky, he is tall!

Beth, don't let the project feel overwhelming. I've never built a light before, this, and I think it was totally worth the experiment! I'll bet you'd be surprised with what you could create. As we were installing the light, I kept saying to Mark, "I can't believe we made this!"

I'm actually thinking of creating a streamlined, step-by-step pdf version of these instructions within the next few weeks. Hopefully that will help.

Thanks for your thoughts!

xo, Kelli

August 11, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

LOVE this!!
I followed this link from pinterest and wasn't able to stop thinking about it all day at work. I came home and started thinking about making it for my dining room, but I'm having trouble ironing the wax paper. I read on-line to put the sheets in between to dish towels, but it doesn't seem to be keeping its hold. How did you make it work?

August 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

Thanks Dawn!

I'm glad that you are thinking of trying it out! For the wax paper, I actually just ironed directly onto the paper, on an ironing board, but I moved in swift motions. Don't let it sit on the paper for long at all (keep it moving)!

I'm not sure how good that is on the iron itself, but I don't have a fancy iron so I wasn't too worried about it. I tried using an ironing cloth at first, but I found that the wax paper made the fabric a bit sticky, which made it difficult to move the iron over the paper.

Another important thing about the wax paper is that you don't want it to iron perfectly. Your "faux capiz" will look better if there are bubbles, veins, and pockets of air between the layers of paper!

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other Q's.

xo, Kelli

August 12, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

Foundn this from pinterest too. Love, love, LOVE this!!! I've been dreaming about that same chandelier myself and I can't believe you made this! It looks amazing - great job! And thanks for sharing the details (and pitfalls) so you can help others (like me) attempt this too! Thank you! :)

August 15, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Thanks Donna!

It was definitely an evolving project! Thank goodness it evolved in a good way! haha!

xo, Kelli

August 15, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

You can make your own jump rings (jewelry fasteners) easily and in doing so cut costs for this project fairly significantly- take a 12-18 inch length of 20 gauge wire, wrap it around a pen (a plain BIC works well) and snip with metal shears at the turn of each coil. If the cut rings gape open, you can flatten them gently, which should close the circle. Easy-peasy and quick!

This is a fantastic idea, by the way!

September 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

That's such a great idea! It would definitely save some $$$.

I'm wishing that I would have waited to use some coupons too! I could have saved a lot of money on the jewelry clasps, spray paint, and wax paper if I'd have used some coupons.

Oh well!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! --Kelli

September 14, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

i cannot believe how great it looks! you have some amazing patience, but it was totally worth it. well done! (@michales tweeted your project-- i had to stop by!)

September 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteremily @ the happy home

Thanks Emily!

It definitely takes patience, but at least it's work that can be done with some good entertainment. I got all caught up on my Hulu shows! Ha! Plus, I made waaaayyyy too many of the capiz strands, so it took me a bit longer. Live and learn, I guess!

Thanks for stopping by! --Kelli

September 20, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

Wow, what an amazing project - I love it when people think outside the box! Although you must have some PATIENCE..... I could never stay focused throughout such a long project.

September 21, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDesign Fixation

ow my god, that looks absolutly amazing, i cant believe you made it, its gorgeous xxx
p.s i saw this post on tipjunkie il be following you from now on xxxx

September 22, 2011 | Unregistered Commenteraimee

Thanks guys!

Design Fixation, you are definitely right about the patience! It doesn't hurt to have some good entertainment too! I got caught up on all of my shows. haha!

Aimee, I'm a big fan of Tip Junkie, and was so flattered that she featured my project! Thanks for linking over!

xo, Kelli

September 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

Wow, this turned out fabulously! Looks amazing!

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

Thanks Wendy!

October 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

I love this so much I featured it this week at my Hookin Up with HoH Party!

Feel free to stop by and grab a button if you'd like!!


Allison @ House of Hepworths

This is AMAZING. I fancy myself a fairly clever crafty gal... but I am bowing to you as I type this comment ;) Fantastic job... ingenuity and creativity at it's finest!!

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

Wow! Thanks Allison! I'll definitely stop by. Thanks for linking me up!

xo, Kelli

October 5, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! Also came over from Pinterest. This is spectacular. I'm moving next year and definitely will be on the to do list! I'm just wondering, what type of clasps did you use? I can't tell specifically. The jump rings are great, even the fact that they are oval is a great touch. I'm just in awe! Good job :)

October 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEla

Hey Ela,

The clasps are called Jewelry Essentials Findings. I found them at Michaels, and I used them for everything. They linked together the strands, and then I just used hot glue to stick them on the bottom of the frame so that I could hook the strands to the frame. It's a little difficult to tell once everything was spray painted.

Thanks for your kind words!

xo, Kelli

October 6, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

Gorgeous, you 2 did an amazing job!

October 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commenternancy

This looks even better than the inspiration! The black framing sorta sets it off from its surroundings, making a statement. Love it!

October 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterApril

Wow! Thanks April!! I was a bit hesitant when it came to the bronze spray paint. I've seen some metalic finishes painted before that looked a little tacky, but I was really happy with the way the Rustoleum brand worked out!

Thanks for dropping by!

xo, Kelli

October 26, 2011 | Registered CommenterAHPCH

I'm not normally one for expletives, but Holy Crap!!! It's amazing! I love it!!!

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

OMG, I just saw the real one on another site and wondered if a faux version existed and I just happened to come across this one from Knock Off Decor. Love it!!!! ~Thanks

November 3, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercynthia

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