September 26, 2012

Dear Diary...My $20 West Elm Inspired Chandelier

It has taken me a looooong time to commit to decorative lighting in our new house. We have very high ceilings and the downstairs has an open floor plan as well so the fixtures not only had to be the right scale, but compliment each other. It was really hard to find the right balance between elegant/glam (me) & modern/contemporary (hubby) UNTIL I found this!

West Elm Small Round Capiz Pendant

But still, it wasn't quite right. The scale was wrong (I was looking for a chandelier size) and the price wasn't either. I know it's asking a lot, but $130.00 wasn't in the budget with all the other reno's we've been doing! Then the clouds parted and I stumbled upon this gem of a tutorial to make my own, for you guessed it.....TWENTY DOLLARS! Holy cow!

Too good to be true you say? Yes and no. What you save in $$ you make up for in the TIME it takes to make this. I spent a good 20 hrs total on mine so do not think you will sit down in one weekend and knock this out. Plan on at least a month with a few hours invested here & there (so you stay sane).

What you'll need:
-wire wreath form ($2.29 at JoAnn)
-white or silver spray paint, unless you want a green wire frame which I did not
-3 rolls of wax paper
-2 spools of beige sewing thread (looks better when thread is darker than the "shells")
-parchment paper
-3 screw hooks
-1.5" round craft punch ($6.99 from Michaels with coupon)
-iron & ironing board

Step 1: Cut 3 sheets of wax paper, place between two sheets of parchment paper so the wax doesn't ruin your iron & ironing board. Iron wax paper thoroughly to make sure the 3 sheets of wax paper meld together completely. Repeat this step until you run out of wax paper. (*hint, I wanted a champagne metallic effect on mine so I lightly dusted my sheets with spray paint after ironing)

(last photo shows one sheet lightly spray painted vs without)

Step 2: Time to punch holes! This is what gets time consuming. Make SURE you get a sharp hole punch, if not, you will be wanting to pull out your hair the way I was. I'll offer some tips, cut your ironed wax paper sheets into strips to make the punching easier, then punch 3-4 strips at a time.
I had to go back and trim a lot of mine because the punch wasn't sharp enough & I got a lot of torn edges but noticed the more I punched at a time the better they came out for some reason.

Step 3: Take your plethora of punched pieces and sew them together to make strands. Choose whatever length you like, I chose 25 pieces per strand.
*Tip-You want to keep the extra thread at the top to tie the strand to the form (bottom threads can be cut).

Step 4: Arranging the strands on the wire form was the fun part! (make sure you've already painted the form & let it dry properly before starting to attach the strands) I started by doing the "inside" layer. This layer was 25 pieces long. The second layer was also 25 pieces long but I draped it over instead of tying it so I had 7 pieces in front &18 pieces "behind" giving the chandelier a 3 layer effect when in fact it only had 2.

Use the screw hooks to install over your existing recessed can, etc and that's about it! Not complicated, just takes some time to do. I am SO happy with mine! We had our housewarming party recently and no one could guess this wasn't an expensive, store bought fixture!


  1. Looks as good in person as it does on the pictures! Great job Lacy!

  2. Looks amazing! You did a great job!

  3. WOW It looks wonderful, can't wait to see it.

  4. What watt of light bulb do you have? Wondering how high you could go and be safe. Love it!

  5. This is really an amazing creation...your hard work paid off big time!

  6. We had an existing (old) light fixture (just a white metal "can" and bulb inside) which we left in place and only put a new energy efficient bulb in it, about 50W I think!

  7. This looks amazing. One question: Did you sew the circles together on a machine or did you do it by hand. I was thinking you just kept feeding the circles under the presser foot until you got the number you wanted on the strand.

  8. Great question, yes, I used my sewing machine & fed the circles through one at a time

  9. This is amazing! Seriously brilliant! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Thank you so much for posting this. I was just looking 'AGAIN' at the West Elm chandelier and I can not even come close to paying such myself. I had thought of doing this exactly as you have, but was insecure, so I searched for a tutorial and I must say thank you ever so much for showing and telling us the details. I am going to copy your wonderful chandelier.