January 20, 2016

Bohemian Pendant Light Shade Tutorial

I have a thing for creative lighting. Handmade, eclectic, colourful... 

I have a Pinterest board dedicated to lighting here. (I would love one of those octopus lights, maybe one day..)

To satisfy my need for creative lighting I am happy with a quick project like this simple fabric covered light shade. (Fabric by my all time fave fabric designer Anna Maria Horner.)

Or the project could be more in depth like in the next photo. This one I made from an old op-shopped wire light covering, using extra wire to make the curly parts and all sorts of bits and pieces to decorate it. I had a personal challenge going on when I made this one: to only use what I had & to buy nothing new. A pretty lightbulb would probably look much nicer in there!

But if you think you're ready for something out there and you love the boho look like I do, then have a go at this pendant light. It's crazy and wonky, but I think that adds to the handmade charm, don't you think?

First up, gather your supplies. Buy yourself one of those cheap DIY pendant light kit from your local hardware. This one didn't set me back more than $15. (I think it was around $12.. bargain!)

If you're a craft supplies hoarder like me, this personality trait will serve you well. Gather some or all of these:
  • beads, beads, and more beads of all shapes, materials, colours & sizes
  • thrifted/ op- shopped jewellery
  • wool/ string/ threads/ cord/ ribbon
  • ric rac/ lacey bits/ pom pom strands etc
  • artistic wire (usually available in beading sections of craft stores). I used 22 gauge but use what you have- the colour doesn't matter
  • fabric scraps
  • Galvanised wire (I used coat hanger thickness, then a thinner one for wrapping around the thicker wire)
  • spray paint (optional) 
Also have some sewing supplies like a needle, thread & scissors on hand. You will also need some pliers for bending & cutting wire.

I had been collecting old jewellery from op shops for a while before I started this project.


Make your first loop out of the thicker wire, double thickness, and wrap around with the thinner wire to secure. I then made the middle section by twisting the wire a few times around a paint brush end (use a similar tool). This little loop that's made will have the light cord running through it so make sure it's not too small. You only want it slightly wider than the cord. I made my loop 14cm (5 1/2") in circumference. Make the ends long and bend them around the circle and wind around everything with the thinner wire to secure.

(Note: The thicker the wire and stronger you can make this part of the light the better; I found after adding so many beads that it added a lot of weight, so if you use stronger wire yours may not be so wonky!)

Then make your larger circle. I doubled the wire over then wrapped the thinner wire around, as in the previous step. Try and make these circles as uniform & flat as you can. My second loop measured 30cm (11 3/4") in circumference.

Spray paint your loops if you wish. I happened to have some lime green spray paint left over from a different project. Another option would be to wrap thin strips of fabric around the wire to pretty it up, using a bit of craft glue to secure as you go.

Suspend your small circle from the ceiling to make it easy to work on.

Now, start wiring or tying on your beads and old necklaces. Some old necklaces I had to rethread, others I just snipped the old catches off and wired them up straight away. Some are tied with bead thread, some with the artistic wire. Try to get the total length around 67- 77cm (26- 30") for each beaded strand. Staggered lengths look better rather than them being all the same length. If you have short necklaces you can always tie some together to make longer strands. The more eclectic, the better. I made a total of 35 strands.

It's surprising how cheap party favour/ granny necklaces can be transformed into something beautiful :) You could plait wool or fabric strips, sew beads along them, thread beads onto ribbon, tie bows onto bead strands... let your imagination run wild. (Don't actually secure the bottom ring in yet; but it's fun to peg it in there to get an idea of what your creation is going to look like as you go.)

Once you are happy you can pop your pendant light kit in. I stretched apart the little centre coil and twisted the cord inside there and then squeezed the wire coil closed again. This takes a little bit of maneuvering to get the cord in there but it's possible to do without cutting any wire or taking the cord out of one of the ends of your lighting kit. Then, use some artistic wire to wrap, wrap, wrap around that cord underneath the coil to provide something for the light shade to be supported on. I wrapped 33cm (13") from the light end. (That measurement is to the tip of the lightbulb.) The cord is just squishy enough that the artistic wire holds on tight without slipping. You don't want it super tight, just enough so it doesn't slip. I added extra bits of wire going to the edges of the circle as you can see in the photo.

Now install your pendant lighting kit to the ceiling using the instructions that came with your pendant cord kit. 

Now when it's all hanging in place, wriggle that bigger loop up inside all your pretty beaded strands and peg it in about 3 or 4 places. This takes a bit of moving things around to make sure all the bead strands are hanging nicely and your second circle is sitting as evenly as possible. Wire those strands you pegged in with artistic wire.

Now grab yourself a piece of wool and carefully gather in all your strands & tie together. I redid this about half a dozen times so try not to get frustrated! You could also wrap another bead strand or some pom pom strands around where you tied too, that would look pretty cute :)

Now take photos of your creation and make sure you show me!

(That poor white light shade you see in the background has it's days numbered. It will be attacked with craft supplies very soon!)

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please use this at your own discretion. This project adds extra unintended weight to the pendant light kit so use at your own risk. 

I'd love to hear your feedback. I'm planning on making some more tutorials in the future so please let me know if there's a project you would love me to make into a tutorial!

Jules :)


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