(My chandelier… how-to below!)
I’ve loved the look of capiz shell chandeliers for a long time - so pretty, and whimsical, and beachy.
So I was excited to discover a number of DIY tutorials out there using wax paper in place of shells! Brilliant! The wax paper gives a really similar look for cheap.
- Brenna’s hanging chandelier on Design*Sponge
- Susan’s ceiling mount chandelier on Freshly Picked
- Monica’s lampshade on Crafty Nest (using rice paper)
So when I wanted to replace the branch mobile in the nursery I thought this may make a nice replacement, and it was time to try my own. As is typical of me, I skimmed over a bunch of tutorials and concocted my own version. Many of the tutorials involve using ribbon behind the “shells”, or sewing the “shells” together, however I didn’t like the visible lines these made, so I decided to use fishing line and a glue gun.
Some tutorials use embroidery hoops to hang the strands of shells, and others use wire hanging baskets, or other wire frames of all sorts. I used what I had on hand (and was cluttering up my linen closet): a couple of spare lamp shades. I cut the fabric/plastic off of the wire rings and created a frame by taping them together. (Side note: if you can, find a prettier way to attach the rings than masking tape. It was more visible than I thought it would be.)
The smallest ring was from an old IKEA lampshade, and it had a spot for the lightbulb which fit through the HEMMA cord kit already hanging in the nursery. I twisted it around so that the light bulb would hang inside the frame.
Then I sat down and cut out a gajillion little wax paper circles, placing them under a stack of books to flatten them. I started with my Martha Stewart circle cutter, which made lovely perfect little uniform circles - except that I could only do one at a time, and sometimes the wax paper slipped around. So I used some of these circles as templates, folded the paper over a few times, and cut out multiples at one time with scissors. I laid out the circles in rows, laid the fishing line over top, and added dots of glue with the glue gun to attach them.
I then began attaching the strands to the frame - tying the fishing line to the frame, then securing it with a dot of hot glue. After this I found it tricky to find something to set my frame on to continue working - I tried glasses, vases, paint cans, and here you see it hanging over our dining room sconce (which may be a good solution if you’ve got an ugly sconce!). If you have any smart solutions for a stand to work on, please share!
After you’ve done the inside ring you repeat! Cutting more wax paper circles, stringing and gluing more strands together (though you can make each row moving outwards a circle or two shorter), and attaching them to the frame, working your way out. This can be a little tedious - I did it over the course of several evenings. If you have friends who are into mundane assembly line-like time together, round ‘em up! :)
Once I reached the outside ring I took some single wax paper circles and glued them over the frame and the top of the strands to cover up the ugly stuff. I spent some time untangling the strands of “shells”, and removing stringy glue gun gunk. Then I attached the fixture from the hanging cord… and voila!
And here it is lit up:
Some summary thoughts:
- I liked the look of the fishing line/glue gun method. The fishing line is barely visible, and though you can see the little glue gun globules (meaning you need to make them pretty neat), I kind of like the way they look - almost like transparent little beads. That’s probably a matter of taste, though.
- My frame is a little too visible on the outside ring for my taste. I could have spray painted the frame white - though I’m not sure how much that would have helped.
- I opted to do single pieces of wax paper -which is lovely and simple, but maybe a bit flimsy. The strands can get tangled, and the “shells” can curl a bit. Depending on where you’re putting your chandelier you may want to try what Brenna did, and I think Susan did, by ironing a the wax paper together with some parchment paper to make thicker “shells”. This is another step to add to a long process, and would require a large circle punch to go quickly (I was unable to find one) but it could be worth it for a bit of weight and durability.
And overall I’m quite pleased with this pretty little thing… and the nursery is nearing the finish line! Woo hoo!