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Beautiful Faux Capiz Chandelier Tutorial

04 October 2011

Beautiful Faux Capiz Chandelier Tutorial

Grab yourself a soft-drink, and make yourself comfortable.
Prepare for the details of the long-awaited chandelier project that I've been pre-posting about for the past few weeks.
I've teased, "coming soon" over and over again, and for that I am sorry. It wasn't deliberate.  I guess that's just what happens when a project takes longer than anticipated.  Much longer!
I am hoping that once you have read through this "how to" post, you'll have compassion on this blogger's soul (and her torn and tattered typing fingers that made hundreds of faux capiz strands)!
Let's start at the very beginning...
A few months ago, I was staring (enviously) at this dreamy chandelier from West Elm:
...and staring angrily at the $299.00 price tag.  I wondered, why must pretty things be so dang expensive?  
As much as I loved this little lady, I couldn't find it in my heart (or wallet) to take the plunge and commit. But then one day, I had a light-bulb moment, when I stumbled across a DIY'd faux capiz lamp project and realized I could probably make the fixture myself for an affordable price!  (And, yes...I think there was a little bit of dancing that took place during that moment..)

And so I created a plan...
The original plan involved building a frame and drilling out the holes for some Ikea light-kits (see the light-bulb moment link above).  But then one night, I thought, "there has to be an easier way."
It begged the question: What is already rectangular, and is the size that I need???
At this point, using the picture frame was just an idea floating around in my head, but then came the Pinterest Challenge from Young House LoveBower PowerStyle by Emily, and Making a House a Home. They challenged creative minds everywhere to not just pin, but act instead!
It was exactly the push that I needed, but I knew that I had to act quickly.  The deadline was just beyond the weekend, and time was already counting down!
So, off to Ikea I went and when I returned I was faced with a few challenges.  First, I didn't realize that the backing and the glass would be so difficult to remove from the frame; but, I soon learned they had been stapled and glued...nice and tight!
Finally, after some stellar effort, I was able to remove both the backing and the glass.
A few weeks earlier I had already experimented with the faux capiz, and I found the best way (in my opinion) to get a good look-a-like was to iron multiple sheets of wax paper together. 
To add more dimension and realism, I made various thicknesses.  For some, I only ironed together three sheets, but for others I ironed together four.  This created various textures and opacities, and the bubbles and veins between the wax paper looked almost like real shell.
After cutting the sheets of ironed wax paper down to 1.5"x2.5", I used some jewelry clasps I found at Michaels and made hundreds of strands of faux capiz.  To get the look I wanted the strands were made at various lengths (3, 4, and 5 long).
I'm not kidding...I made hundreds...(you can read more about this process here).
Ha!  They look like faux-capiz lasagna!  
But here's where things got tricky...
Originally, my plan was to make the chandelier as a one-lighter.  I thought this would be best because then I could maybe use the light socket, chain, and cover from the existing light fixture.  
But guess what? ...the existing fixture was very ugly...
...and so I thought I could use something like this from Home Depot to make it look prettier...
And how would that work, you might ask?  
Well, in my "life is perfect" mind, I imagined the fixture could magically be held up and balanced by sandwiching the frame's backing (with a drilled out hole) between the pendant shade and the pendant socket cover.
I'll pause for a moment while you laugh..........trust me, I get it.  
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this plan would have never worked, but I told you this chandelier evolved over time, right?
Well, long story, short...that led me to this disaster:
I'll let you read all about that in my previous post, but to sum things up, I quickly found my plan to use the frame's backing and the little light from Home Depot to support the fixture would not work.  Not even if I sprinkled it with fairy dust!
Please pardon my cheesiness...it's just that now, when I look back, I can see how much of a fairytale I was living in at that time.  It's like I was hoping my Fairy Godmother would come to turn this little board into a beautiful chandelier, and a pumpkin into a carriage!
And so I moved on...
But this time, I called in some recruits.  
I started brainstorming with my husband, Mark, and together we drew up some ideas.  It really helped to get another viewpoint on the project, and it increased the creative flow of ideas.  
The best thing was that we both could think through the technicalities of the project.  We could each offer our ideas and then talk out the potential conflicts that might arise.
Eventually, with twice the brain power working on the project, Mark and I found a way to turn the chandelier into a two-light fixture.
Here's what we did...
First, we started by using the glass panel that came with the frame to measure two boards that we fit inside thewidth of the picture frame.  Since the glass was already cut to size by the manufacturer, it made it easy to know where to cut.
Next, we drilled holes in the boards, and also cut out a large rectangle from the backing that originally came with the frame.  Yep, that's right...we salvaged the piece that I thought I had destroyed on my first attempt!
Placement here was pretty important.  We had to be careful to get the order right.  First you place the two cut boards inside the frame (just like you would the glass), and then you place the backing right back where it originally came from.
But, in case you forgot, I had unstapled the backing, so I had to use some tacks to nail the backing back into place.
Then I measured two rows at the spacing that I wanted.  The backing was cut down to a 2" border, so I marked one row at 3/4", and one row at 1 3/4".  Then I made little tick-marks every half-inch around each of the rows.
Once I had the markings to use as a reference, I used my hot-glue-gun to glue the jewelry clasps onto the frame backing, along the rows that I had drawn...and for the third row, I just used the edge between the backing and the frame.
To hide the wires going up to the ceiling, we used PVC riser pipe from the landscaping section at Home Depot.  They were really inexpensive, and they also already had the screw threads on each end.  This made it really easy to attach a washer and a nut to the top and the bottom of each pipe to attach each end to the fixture.
Next, we had to figure out how to hide the hole from the existing fixture...so I made a quick trip to Savers, and found this little guy for $1.99...but a 50% off sale brought it down to only $1.00.
Once we had collected all of the pieces for our plan, I gave everything a few good coats of spray paint. For this project, I used Rustoleum's metallic finish paint in a dark finish.
To hold the weight of the chandelier, we used another cut piece of board...but first we did a test run to make sure the chandelier would be parallel to the wall.  This was tricky, because it was difficult to eyeball...but we did our best.
Once we knew that everything would hang straight, Mark assembled the fixture.  For the light sockets themselves, we just used the one that was housed in the original fixture, and we also stole the light from the chandelier that was hanging in our breakfast nook.  They were identical lights, and we planned on replacing the fixture in the nook eventually, so we figured we might as well just take it down now, but if you don't have any existing light fixtures to re- purpose, you can find inexpensive light kits at Ikea.
Once everything was assembled, we attached the board to the existing electrical box, wired everything back up, and covered the wires with the little frame from Savers, held in place by two screws on the narrow end of the frame.
(PS...I know it kinda looks like Mark is "flipping the bird" here, but he's really just holding the chandelier up.  You don't really think about finger placement when you're working on stuff like this, so please don't take offense.)
Once that was done, all we had to do was hang the strands of wax paper...hundreds of strands of wax paper.
Fortunately, we decided that it actually looked best if we skipped ever-other hook (which brought the spacing between each strand to 1 inch, instead of 1/2").  This saved us a lot of time, and we both agree that the fixture would have looked too crowded if we put all of the strands of wax paper on.
It was well into the night by the time we finished, but here are a few shots that we snapped:
It was difficult to get a good shot, but the light looked so beautiful coming through the strands of wax paper!
And just in case you were wondering, the wax paper does not touch the bulbs themselves, which means we don't have to worry about it melting...or worse, catching on fire!
Now, I'm sure you're wondering the cost break down, so here's the grand total:
$ 5.00--2 rolls of wax paper @ $2.50 each
$39.00--13 packages of Findings Jewelry Essentials (144 count) @ $2.99 each
$12.00--2 cans Rustoleum metallic finish spray paint @ $5.99 each
$10.00--1 Erikslund picture frame from Ikea
$ 1.00--1 picture frame from Savers
$ 2.80--2 PVC Riser Pipes from Home Depot
$ 1.00--1 Package of fastening nuts from Home Depot
$ 1.60--4 washers at $.40 each.
$ 0.00--2 light kits, already had from existing fixtures
$ 0.00--1 board, already had from previous project
$ 0.00--Hot glue, already had from previous projects
$ 0.00--Sweat equity, brain power, and time
$72.40--Total cost!!!!
But now that you know how to make it, you could even save some cash because I found that I did not need all of those jewelry fasteners...and they were the most expensive part!
So there we go!  It's finally done, and I'm absolutely in love with it!  But what do you think?  Was it worth the time that went into it?  
I think so!

This project was contributed by one of our fabulous readers! We love to share your projects with this great blogging community. So, if you have projects from kitchen renovation ideas to small bathroom remodels, overhauled and repurposed furniture, spray paint updates you name it please send it in! Thanks for reading Remodelaholic!

Lovin' all the light?  Check out more here:


laxsupermom October 4, 2011 at 8:27 AM  

Wow! Incredible tutorial! I love the high end look with just wax paper. Thanks for sharing.

Katie October 4, 2011 at 8:35 AM  

WOW this is awesome!!! I would have never thought to make an inexpensive version of this light fixture!

Korrie@RedHenHome October 4, 2011 at 8:43 AM  

This is an astounding project! I love it, but quite honestly I can't imagine going to all the work you put into it ;-) I'm not that motivated. Good for you!

Julie October 4, 2011 at 9:23 AM  

Wow is the only thing I can think of to say and it looks like I'm not alone : )

Mummy Maggie October 4, 2011 at 9:48 AM  

This is the most gorgeous and incredible DIY I've seen in a LONG time! Amazing job!

Stephanie October 4, 2011 at 10:42 AM  

Wow! That's a lot of work, but definitely worth it. That chandelier is amazing!

Deb October 4, 2011 at 10:53 AM  

I'm making one for my entry way and I can tell you it's a TON of work - hers looks amazing though! Great job!

EmmyBows October 4, 2011 at 3:36 PM  

This is so beautiful! I am new to the DIY world and was very apprehensive of trying to style my home with my own projects. This tutorial has really opened my eyes. A high end look for the price of an everyday fixture. Thank you so much for posting!

Anonymous,  October 4, 2011 at 3:40 PM  

Wow, it's amazing!!!!! Great job, and thank you for sharing.

Anonymous,  October 4, 2011 at 5:34 PM  

Wow it's stunning. I have 2 capiz table lamps and this looks better than the real thing. Great job!

Kelli October 4, 2011 at 11:35 PM  

Hello All!

Kelli here, from A Happy Place Called Home. Thanks for all of your wonderful feedback! I've added a video tutorial to my site on how to make the wax paper. If you're curious, or considering tackling this project yourself, check it out: http://www.ahappyplacecalledhome.com/home/2011/10/1/how-to-make-faux-capiz-from-wax-paper.html

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