Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Faux capiz shell chandelier

Ok, guys! I'm pretty pleased with the outcome of this little experiment, let's see if you agree with me when you see what I'm talking about.

Take a gander at this beauty I just put up in the kids' room, starting off the beachy/underwater theme that will be in there (trying my hand at a classier version of a kid's room, SpongeBob will still fit in but he won't be the main theme).

And do you believe me when I tell you it cost me a grand total of...... $0? It's true! And it looks (almost) exactly like the real thing while still being virtually unbreakable :) Perfect for my monkey babes!

The best part (and you're going to love this one!) is that every one of you out there can make one too! For those of you that get your three glasses of milk a day you'll have the main ingredient right at your fingertips - milk jugs!

So here's what you need.

*1 bell shade (from the thrift store or your stash), stripped of all fabric
*Mason's line from the hardware store (or other string of your choice)
*Many (empty and clean) milk jugs, amount varies depending on how dense and long you want your   finished chandelier to be
*Tapestry needle

This is what I did.

1. I cut up the milk jugs into panels, using a kitchen knife to cut out and discard the spout and the handle. The rest I did with regular scissors, the plastic is pretty soft and pliable. The spout and the handle were the only parts I decided were too curved, the rest is usable with a little force. If your circles are a little bent or textured it'll just make for a more organic looking chandelier. After the jug was disassembled I had 4 sides, the bottom and a half circular strip from the top. Repeat this step as needed :)

2. I then used the rim of an empty baby food jar to mark evenly sized circles, trying to squeeze in as many as possible on each panel. I just used a pen for this, it didn't really write well on this material but it made an indentation that was easy to follow and my circles didn't have any dark markings on them thanks to this.

3. I used a small nail to pierce each circle at the top and bottom. I put the circle on a cutting board and hit the nail with a heavy object (too lazy to go and get the hammer) and it worked just fine. I'm sure something like a thumb tack or similar would work too.

4. I turned my stripped bell shade upside down and started stringing the circles on there with the tapestry needle. Before this I had verified that the bell shade fit over the existing light fixture, one of those "boob" lights. It was a perfect fit, love it when that happens :)

The mason's line consists of three strands which I divided and used one strand at a time. To make sure the strings weren't going anywhere I attached them to the shade using a lark's head knot, each of the two hanging strands being one strand of circles on the finished chandelier. I folded the extra strand to the side while working on the first strand, stringing one circle onto the strand and pushing it into position, then making a single knot underneath each circle to hold it in place. I used 9 circles per strand. When I got to the second strand I would re-tie the string to the lamp shade about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the lark's head knot and then start stringing circles on. I wanted my strands of circles to be fairly close together to try to obscure the lampshade structure but I didn't want the strands to hang in pairs right next to each other either. Does that make sense? You know me and my lack of "during" pics... Sorry :)

5. I filled both bell shade rings with strands of circles to make a two-tiered chandelier. I was going to cut the strings off after the last circle of each strand, but I really liked the jellyfish-like look of the chandelier with the strings hanging down a bit so I left it that way.

6. Now for hanging the whole thing. I removed the "globe" of the light fixture, placed it inside the still upside down bell shade and made a sort of suspender-like wire contraption to hold the chandelier onto the light fixture, like so.

And then I just replaced the "globe" like I normally would. Done!

 How's that for a cool chandelier?! Mine measures about 36" from ceiling to the bottom of the strings so it's a pretty big/long chandelier. For $0 since I had all supplies on hand. It took me maybe a month to finish it since I had to wait for my family to drink enough milk to supply me with enough materials to work with :) A friend took pity on me and donated a few of their jugs as well - thanks Janice :)

So this is what the light in the kids' room looked like before.

Standard, boring and drowning in a sea of white.

And here are the afters! Still drowning in a sea of white (which will change), but at least it makes a statement now.

This one is taken from underneath.

And some with the light turned on as well.

As you can see it looks quite dream-like, the plastic circles look like they're glowing from within. I've read that you can sand milk jugs with sandpaper and achieve the look of rice paper but in this case I didn't want to bother since I had about a billion circles to work with and it was for the kids' room and no-one's going to look all that closely anyway. And the raw material looks good the way it is, the plastic reflects some of the light in a similar way to real capiz shell.

The chandelier does hang down quite a bit into the room so a grown up will either have to duck or walk through it. It is very light weight and feels sort of like walking through a string curtain so no-one's going to get hurt here. The kids can barely reach the strings even when jumping to reach them. It was a big hit with them, by the way :)

At one point I did consider painting the bell shade structure but as you can see I decided against it. It's really not all that visible in the grand scheme of things. You mainly just notice this glorious cascade of circles and string :)

How's that for a recycling project that doesn't look like recycling? :)

Ps. Linking up with
Blue Cricket Design
The Thrifty Home
Beyond The Picket Fence
post signature Pin It


  1. WOW! what a clever idea! i love capiz lamps, and yours looks so awesome! hopped over from beyond the picket fence.

  2. Oh my gosh! What an ingenious idea!!! Milk cartons!?!? How creative is that? I love the final look - it looks like it's right out of a magazine. :)

  3. I love this--it would be great in my daughter's room and I never would have guessed it was milk cartons!

  4. Amazing! Sponge Bob doesn't have a chance compared to the fun of this project!

    I'm checking out my "boob" lights around the house to see if this works for me. I'll leave the 12 year old boy humour alone;)

  5. Oh I love this!! I been thinking of doing something like this for myself! Thanks for your great tutorial and inspiration!! Super fabulous job!

  6. Genius! Love it! What an awesome use for those empty milk cartons...we go through so many we should get our own cow!

  7. What a great idea!!! Thanks for the tutorial.

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. That is AWESOME!! :D I am trying to decide if I can make an exception to my no tropical island decorations, just for this! :p (I live in Hawaii...beach deco is ubiquitous..I would rather not be ubiquitous, rofl)

  10. I wonder if I could make this work with a ceiling fan light. I really like the jellyfish-ness of it!

  11. Oh my gosh! That is too cool!! I love capiz chandys and this is fabulous!!!!!!!
    Very innovative & creative. Love it!

  12. So very cool! I wonder if green 2 liter soda bottles could be used for the discs? I'll have to try it and see. You are a very clever woman!

  13. Ann, I'm positive the soda bottles could be used for this. They'll be slightly curved just like some of the discs I used for my chandelier and of course they'll be more transparent. The color should be cool though. Good luck!

  14. Milk jugs??? Are you kidding????

    I'm doing this, and you'll get full credit on the post. And I'll let you know when it's up. And OMG you're a genius!

  15. Smartypants! Cool project! Way to go, you.

  16. WOW, this is impressive. Talk about ingenuity! Thanks for sharing.

    Warmly, Michelle

  17. Very cool DIY! I love how it turned out, and I ALWAYS am exited to chance upon a great new tutorial!
    So glad you shared with us : )

  18. I jumped over here from Trash to treasure, and I'm glad I did. Forget the kids, I'm doing this in MY room! Thanks for sharing.

  19. Hi, Titti! This is absolutely amazing! I saw one similar made from ironed wax paper, but yours is so much cooler. Milk jugs, milk jugs...I need to start thinking about them! Thank you so much for leaving a buncha sweet comments on my blog! I love your ideas and your shoestring projects all look super luxe.

  20. Very nice! (And I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks those lights look like boobs!)

  21. Genius. Hope you don't mind if I feature this on my blog.

  22. awesome!! I wonder if there is a spray paint that would give them a touch of that irredescenct look?

  23. Hi Jennifer,

    There's probably some way to get them to look just right - I just haven't gone through the trouble :) If you find a way to do it maybe you can come back and tell us what you did?
    Thanks for liking it!

  24. Oh, very cool idea! I need to do something with my hall light and your framework and how you attached is brilliant. I don't drink much milk, but will start thinking....maybe waxed paper with the crayon shavings melted between and then cut into circles.

  25. OK, first of all, you have no idea how many times I have used random things lying around to hammer nails, because I was too lazy to go get the hammer! secondly, this is my first visit to your blog, and I LOVE this tutorial!! In fact, I just finished a gallon of milk, so I'm on my way to a cool new faux-capiz chandelier (the real kind I've been wanting for years, but they're too expensive). Thank you SO much for posting this DIY info!!

  26. wow, this is lovely! I am definitely going to use this idea in my decor.

  27. I think I will try this; it looks fabulous.
    I will have to see if colored plastic bottles like from soda would work.

  28. Oh, I wonder if those capiz will fit with my hand forged iron chandeliers... You're such an artist! I LOVE how it turned out. It's way better than the "boob" light. Hehe! And it definitely adds fun to kid's room with sea/beach theme.

    I'll try to visualize if I can do this with my chandies. Thanks for the free tutorial. ♥

  29. I love this tutorial! I have lurked about your blog for a while- mostly admiring this wonderful chandelier- and trying to figure a way to incorporate this look in my home. SO creative! I heart it so much I featured it in a post on my blog.

  30. Thanks so much for visiting my blog - and for the encouragement! If my lamp comes out anything like your chandelier, it'll be great. Feel free to drop by anytime!


  31. i saw another tut where someone ironed 2 pieces of wax paper together and used a circle paper punch to cut out circles. then they fed the circles one by one into a sewing machine to make strings of circles. and draped them over the lamp shade. it achieved the same effect and might be a little easier, but this is definitely the most creative!

  32. love this lamp. My son saw it and said it looked very expensive - before he knew it was milk bottle circles. This idea of making it iridescent intrigues me and I am wondering if a couple of bottles of cheap nail polish poured out on a paper plate and applied with a cotton swab would add some shimmer. I think I will try a bit on my milk jugs to see if it sticks before pouring out the entire container onto a paper plate. I am wondering about painting some on the curved side and some on the other side so that when the light catches it it will reflect on both sides.

  33. Oh wow amazing, I love it! Can't wait to try this out, thank you!

  34. love this! i have been doing a few projects with milk jug circles too-great b/c its free!

  35. Came via Dude Craft ( to look at your red pallet loungers. Love them! Love this lamp! There are a lot of faux capiz-shell tutorials and they all make me sort of sentimental -- we lived in the Philippines when I was a kid in the early 60s (Navy family) and my mother had capiz shell EVERYTHING. Because they were CHEAP. Ha! Also fragile -- I know we carted the lamps and little jewelry boxes and serving dishes and ornaments all over, from station to station, for years, but none of them survive now. Which is why I'm sentimental about capiz shell. The End.

  36. Thanks for stopping by my toddler blog and seeing my masking tape knock off mirror! I think we might be kindred spirits, especially looking at this project! AMAZING!!

  37. I'm working on your version of the capiz chandelier right now. Wow, I will feel a huge since of accomplishment when finished, as you well know! I am so missing your current blogging and hope you are able to return as soon as possible!!! You are so talented and beyond creative! I enjoy MANY blogs but feel it is a treat to visit yours because of the ideas you come up with. Anyone with a credit card and a craft store can do so many of the crafts you see out there in the "blogging world" but you take it to the next step and an artist emerges! Not everyone has that knack! Enjoy your family and the summer but hope you come back soon, refreshed and full of inspiration-I can't wait!!!!!!!!!! :>)

  38. Hi there,

    This is a great reuse project...very effective!

    Can I ask if you would mind me posting this project on our website. We are a new open design UK organisation who are passionate about packaging reuse. I think this is a great reuse example and would be delighted if you would allow us to feature this on our site. We would provide all credits to the project to yourself and also links back to your blog.

    Thanks. You can email me at : about this if you prefer.

    Hope to hear from you soon


  39. Love your blog and how you upcycled plastic bottles and so I featured you in my roundup of plastic bottle crafts here. Feel free to check it out if you want and hope you like it! : )

    -Mel the Crafty Scientist


I really appreciate you taking the time to comment because I know you didn't have to. Additional ideas or related techniques are always welcome, the more we brainstorm the better all of our end products will be.
While I try to answer all comments I sometimes don't make it or have your contact info. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean I hate you, I just ran out of time (or simply had no way of contacting you).
I wish you a great day!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...