Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bird-Chandelier Tutorial! About darn time, eh?!

You'll never believe it, but I have finally gotten around to building my bird chandelier! All thanks to Mummy really-- she showed up in New York this Christmas, toting a bag full of little fake birds, so there simply wasn't any more stalling to be done. I already had a plan of how to build this-- and remarkably-- it pretty much worked perfectly. (I'm not sure I've ever said that before...)

There she blows, in all her splendor! 

This really was a pretty easy project, so if you're feeling crafty, this might be a good project for the long weekend. A little tedious maybe, but as for skill, I'd say this was a 3 out of 10. (10 being regrettably f--- difficult.)

So-- here's how it's done: 

I started by buying a "Rutbo" pendant light from IKEA, which costs $40.00 if you pick it up from the store. Then I went by Lowe's and bought a rather big spool of "galvanized rabbit cage wire." Yep-- rabbit cage wire. Specific, I know, but the spacing was just the size I was looking for... I found it in the gardening section. The spool was another $20.00 or so, and there was definitely enough extra to make 8-10 more bird chandeliers. (Maybe there is a business in the making?) While I was at Lowe's, I also picked up a small spool of fine wire (.88mm) and though I had one, if you don't, get a strong wire cutter at Lowe's too.

And, now for the step-by-step: 
1.) Unpack the Rutbo light and assess your pile of parts. The parts you want to keep are the actual light bit (the piece that will connect to the ceiling and hold the light bulbs.) You'll also want the shade, but you're not going to need the two white diffusers or the plastic arm-thing that is intended to hold the shade open. Set aside everything except for the shade for now...

2.) Using a pair of scissors, cut the top metal ring (which has the metal criss-cross running across the shade) off of the shade. I did this by very carefully cutting the paper as close to the ring as possible, so when you're finished, you just have a nice tidy ring with the metal criss-cross.

3.) Then I unrolled a length of the rabbit wire so that I could wrap it around the ring, and by wrapping my fine wire around the rabbit wire and ring together, I attached the rabbit wire to the ring in 6-8 places around the circle.

4.) Then I took the shade (or what was left of it) and cut the bottom ring off in the same way I did in step two.

5.) I wanted my shade to have similar proportions to the original IKEA shade, so I lined it up next to the ring-attached-to-rabbit-wire, decided where I was going to cut the rabbit wire, and using my strong wire cutter, I clipped each individual vertical piece of the rabbit wire, really close to horizontal pieces so they wouldn't stick out sharply. (This is definitely the tedious part I referred to earlier...)

6.) Then I attached the second ring to the bottom of the rabbit wire, as I did in Step 3. (It should look like the picture above, once both rings are attached to the rabbit wire...)

7.) Then I took my new rabbit-wire-metal-ring lamp shade outside, along with the light-bits (as mentioned in Step 1, and spray painted everything an Antique Brass. This required a couple of coats of paint (especially for the light-bits), and I also had to flip things over a couple of times to get a complete and even coat on everything. (Again-- tedious, but not actually hard.)

8.) Once I was finished with the spray painting, I followed the IKEA instructions to attach the light bits to my metal shade, and then-- THE FUN PART: Decorating with the little fake birds! Mummy brought about 12 birds with her, but I think you could use even more if you wanted. They can be found at most local craft stores; Mummy bought ours at Michaels.

9.) Now, depending on how handy you are, you might need a pro to help you install your new chandelier at home... and you're in business!

In total, I think this cheery bird chandelier cost about $70.00 to build (including the assorted wire stuffs, IKEA light fixture, spray paint and light bulbs) For a D-I-Y project, that isn't so cheap, but compared to the $609.00 I could pay for a ready-made one on the Graham & Green website, $70.00 seems like a pretty sweet deal.

Another grand success! I can't wait to get this hanging in its permanent location! 


  1. Love this! Adam told me about your blog and it's fab!
    Will you please give your mum a big hug from me if she's still with you for the holidays? Merry Christmas! Emma in London.

  2. Hi Emma! Wonderful to hear from you! My mom sends her love too...
    Give Ads a hug, and very best wishes for the New Year!