Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Faux Capiz Chandelier

Please brace yourselves as I shamelessly brag show you guys the awesome craft that I made all by myself coerced my cousin Amanda to make worked cooperatively with many family members to create.

After painting the ceiling of nursery (remember this?)

I knew that we needed a snazzy light fixture to finish it off.  Woot woot!

I also knew that I needed it to be inexpensive.  Womp womp.

It was time to get creative.  I kept checking out thrift and consignment shops (nothing) and eyeing this from West Elm and even though it wasn't all that unreasonably expensive, I also wanted the light fixture to be special.  So while it was suggested to me (ahem, David) that I could just purchase the non-faux version of this light fixture from West Elm, I decided that I really wanted to give the DIY tutorial a try.

There are several tutorials available online, but here's my version:

I started out by stripping the crappy, yellowed paper off an old lamp shade that I had replaced.  I took it apart so it was just the wire frame, and then I had my brother bend a coat hanger to make a third row of wire in the middle (held in place by garbage bag twist-ties).  I spray-painted the whole thing white.

That was the quick and easy part.

Then I took three sheets of wax paper and ironed them together between two pieces of parchment paper.  The parchment paper just keeps the wax from getting on the ironing board and the iron.  I tore the pieces of wax paper about two feet long (maybe?) and turned off the steam setting on my iron.  This fused the wax paper into a thicker material that also resembles the capiz shell texture.  

I think I ironed ten of those total--so thirty 2-foot sheets of waxed paper fused together in sets of three.

Then I started punching out circles using this circle punch which I do not recommend.

I was punching circles on Saturday morning of Family Weekend, waiting for Crafty Cousin Amanda to arrive.

Unfortunately, my circle punch was a piece of crap.  It didn't cut sharp enough to have clean edges, so I had to clean up a lot of circles with my scissors.

I tried sharpening it by cutting aluminum foil, but that didn't improve things, and then the thing totally broke on me.  My dad ended up taking it completely apart, but it was broken beyond repair.

So by the time Amanda showed up, I was kind of freaking out.  But she talked me off the ledge, and we started tracing and cutting with scissors, using the inside of the dissembled circle cutter as our tracing guideline.  Our circles were 1.5" in diameter.  It was about this point that we also enlisted the help of my great-aunts and some cousins, who assisted in tracing and cutting.  Of course I supervised, while stuffing my face with cookies and letting my mom take care of my kid.

Then Amanda started sewing the circles together.  We used regular thread and she just threaded the circles through the sewing machine one right after the other.  Once she had a good long strip sewn, we held it up on the lamp shade to determine how long we wanted the strips to be.  We decided to make it twelve circles long, so that we'd drape it over with six circles on each side.

And then it was a matter of sewing all the circles together, and snipping them off in sections of twelve.  We filled in the bottom circle and the middle circle and then determined that we would need thirty-six strips for the top circle.  Which meant we needed to cut 372 more circles.

We enlisted the help of my great-aunts and kept going.  We found it worked well to accordion-fold the ironed wax paper and trace the circles so we could cut out five at a time.  They weren't perfect circles by any means, but capiz shells aren't perfect either, right?  (Or maybe they are, in which case, keep that information to yourself.)

Thanks to Amanda's sewing skills, steady hands, patience, and the help from other people wielding scissors, it really went much quicker than I would have thought.

And it turned out great!

From a distance, it really looks like shells.

(this picture was taken in the lodge during Family Weekend)
To get it up in the nursery, I used 3M Command hooks--the clear and metal kind that say they are made to hold utensils.  I stuck them right on the ceiling medallion, impatiently waited an hour, and then hung up the lamp shade frame.

The light kit is a basic kit from Home Depot; the ceiling medallion is from Lowes and probably needs to be painted but David went ahead and put it up before I could paint it so I've let it go for now.  We'll see if it bugs me in the future.  So far I'm okay with it.

Then I added all the strands of wax paper circles that were folded up and waiting:

And hanging up in the nursery, it looks darling.

It wouldn't have been nearly as much fun--or gone nearly as quickly--if I'd tried to do it by myself.  So if you want to take on this project, I highly recommend enlisting a partner (or a group of assistants).  Makes it much more fun.

Especially if that partner is willing to keep diligently sewing away while you chat, eat cookies, entertain a baby, refill drinks, and eat more cookies.  Thanks, Amanda!  I couldn't have done it without her.  For real.  Since she did all the sewing for me.  And helped with the tracing and cutting.  But I did the ironing!  And did a lot of the cutting as well (I wasn't a total slouch, I swear.  Only a partial slouch.).

Now I just have to finish sewing the curtains, get the picture rail up, and sand and paint the trim.  That sounds like a lot of work.  If only I could get Crafty Cousin Amanda here for a weekend...


  1. Holy shit-WHAT?! When you showed us the pic, you didn't say you mADE it!!!!!!! I was freaking out bc it looked so great but had no clue!! Looks like the West Elm to me! Ha! I would have been super lazy and bought it. Amazing!!

  2. Dear Amanda,
    Please move to Texas.
    Caroline and her long list of projects.

  3. Very nice. For your next one, I've got plenty of good circle punches you are welcome to borrow! You are making more, right? Sounds like you might have some customers. :)

    Here's my two cents (not that you asked for it) - I'd swap out the light switch for a dimmer switch. That way you can enjoy that light a whole lot more - even when you don't want the room completely lit up. Seems like it might even make a beautiful, glowing night light if it's down at the lowest setting. We have dimmers on everything, and I find that it's so nice in the girls' rooms to be able to set the mood with the lights.

    And that's one pretty mood light.

  4. Can you and Amanda come to my house...soon? Wow! That looks incredible! Great job!

  5. Wow! That looks amazing! And I can't believe you made it. You have way way way more motivation than I do. Come decorate my house for me please? Matthew's room still says "Lucas". My boys need you!

  6. This is gorgeous!!! Ever thought of working on hgtv???

  7. That looks amazing!!! I love that various family members pitched in to help...clearly there is lots of love for Zuzu. Looking forward to seeing how it all comes together!

  8. That is freakin awesome!! Love love love!

  9. That is SO beautiful!! I love it!!

  10. Wow, that is beautiful! Very impressive!

  11. Do you remember that I had that West Elm one in my bedroom in Nevada? Think it was $99 back in 2004. Looks awesome!

  12. That looks amazing!

  13. You need to get your own TV show on HGTB. Martha Stewart has nothing on you. ;)