Make a Beaded Chandelier
I made a beaded chandelier from dollar store stuff, and I'm so happy I get to reveal it today. I've been teasing the Dollar Store Crafts Facebook page with this project for a few days now, and I finally get to share it! A few months ago, Dollar Tree started selling their seasonal gardening stuff, including hanging wire baskets (and yes, they were only a dollar!) For months I had been trying to find a good base for a chandelier at the dollar store, and it wasn't until my three year-old son called the wire baskets a "chandelier" that it clicked.
Well, two months later, the beaded chandelier is here. It really only took about three or so hours to make, but I kept running into problems (ran out of beads, twice. Ran out of spray paint, had to change diapers!), so I had to run to the dollar store more than once in order to complete it. With instructions and a plan, you'll be able to make yours in an afternoon.
- Hanging wire basket, $1
- 6 packages of Mardi Gras-style metallic beads (about 48 necklaces), $6
- Light gauge wire (floral wire will work), $1
- Spray paint, $1
- Wire cutters, on hand or $1
- Hot glue gun & sticks, on hand
- Additional embellishments, as desired
Total: $9 and up
To prepare the beads: paint with white spray paint. Allow to dry, and add another coat of paint if necessary. You will be able to touch them up after the whole project is assembled.
Prepare the wire basket: spray paint the wire basket and chains. Again, you'll be able to touch up the whole thing again after everything is assembled.
Production note: I didn't spray paint before I assembled, but I think it's a good idea to do so. You won't be able to get the beads uniformly painted if you don't paint before you assemble.
Work area: I hung the basket above my work surface so I could work on it while it was hanging like it would be when displayed. If you can finagle a way to do this, I recommend it.
Wire: cut many pieces of light gauge wire at a length of about 2" or so. You'll need a couple hundred, but you can just cut 10 or so at a time, as needed.
Beads: Find the spot where the two beads are fused together and break them apart. You can just pop them apart with your fingers.
Attaching the bead necklaces together: As you wire your chandelier, you will hot glue one end of the necklace to the end of the next necklace. I recommend doing this as you go to keep everything nice and neat (and untangled). Remember to be careful when handling the hot glue!
Wiring the bottom of the chandelier:
Take your first necklace, and a piece of wire. Wrap the wire securely around the thread between the first two beads and twist around once or twice to make sure the wire won't come apart from the necklace. Then wire the necklace to the top of the wire basket form. Wrap the wire around the basket securely, and twist at least twice to make sure it's secure. Leave the end of the wire long for now.
Hold the necklace up to the bottom of the basket to see where you'll need to add the next wire. At that spot on the necklace, add the wire as instructed above, and wire to the lower frame of the wire basket.
Continue until you reach the end of the necklace, and hot glue the next necklace to the end and continue. Continue this process until the bottom of the basket is filled with beading. I wired about four sections of beads to each segment of the wire basket, and used two packages of beads to cover the whole wire basket.
At this point, you can trim the wires in the bottom hole of the basket. Make sure each one is twisted securely, then clip near the twisted area to make it look neater. Leave the tails on the top part of the basket - you will use them in the next section of the project.
Wiring the top of the chandelier:
Production notes: Again, it is easiest if your basket is hanging while you are assembling. It takes about twice as many necklaces to bead the top of the chandelier.
Start with a new necklace (or hot glue a new necklace to any extra beading left at the end of the bottom section), and wire it to an existing wire. Pull it up to the top of the hanging basket, where the chains meet. Take a longer piece of wire (about 4 to 6" long), and wire the beads to the top link in one of the chains. Pull the bead back down to the basket and wire to an existing section of beading (using the tails that you left in the first part of the project).
Bring the beads back up to the top and wire to the long piece of wire. Continue wiring as instructed, attaching necklaces when needed. After about three or four segments of beads, I brought the wire tail back to the top link to secure the beads to the top.
Once you're done wiring the whole thing, you can take it outside and touch up the spray paint in any area that got rubbed off. (I ran out of spray paint before the whole thing was as white as I wanted it to be, but I was too impatient to hold this tutorial any longer, so I went ahead and photographed!)
Add additional embellishments like ribbon, butterflies, bows, etc., according to your own taste and decor.
You can also turn the basket upside-down to use as the base for a chandelier, but if you decide to bead it the same way, you'll need to add a couple of long wires at key points across the basket to keep the beading laying the right way.
Of course, these baskets are great bases for any kind of chandelier you can imagine! You might have a little trouble finding them at your dollar store now (they sell out quickly), but you can get them for about $5 at your local big-box store. I know that's not as great a price as $1, but it's still pretty cheap for a great chandelier base. The dollar store also has wire baskets that will work decently for chandelier bases. Try those and let me know how they work out for you!
Lighting: I didn't add any lighting to this chandelier. I think it looks pretty cool as-is, but if I added any light, it would be with either twinkle lights inside, or a pendant light kit from a home improvement store ($10 for the kit). I'd use a halogen compact fluorescent bulb because it's low-heat.
Comments: Most of my projects are prototypes. I show you the first draft, and I know there's room for improvement. Please let me know what you think! Honest opinions are very welcome. I really loved hearing your input on the Copper Kitchen Wreath!