Tuesday, February 8, 2011

DIY Disaster/Modern Art

I was blogging this as I went, so be prepared for a bumpy ride.

I've been searching for a light fixture for my bedroom since I moved in. I am broke, broke, broke, so buying the ones I find on design blogs aren't an option, and I've made a mistake at a store before. The mistake was only $40, but now I have a ceiling fan that I can't use because I wasn't specific enough when asking how the thing should be installed. Lesson learned. Nevertheless, the desire for centerpiece lighting in the bedroom remained.

The other day when I accidentally had a day off in the middle of the week, I was cruising design blogs and found this post on a modern chandelier made of wooden dowels, one on a chandelier made from drinking straws, and a faux-capiz shell chandelier made of wax paper and ribbon. I had just run out of parchment paper, had no wire and only 36 drinking straws, but a modern chandelier for under ten dollars? Why, that was right within my budget—free if I improvised a little and "made it my own." I didn't want to spend any money, but I had neither wooden dowels nor wood glue. What I did have was plenty of electrical tape, an abundant supply of waribashi (disposable chopsticks), and a fluorescent light. Let the art begin.

I found that I had enough waribashi to make nine hexagons, with four mismatched pairs remaining. I figured that I could do a vaguely spherical sculpture to hang over the light.

I decided to use the mismatched pairs to make the top brace. I wanted to still use six chopsticks, but it seemed a little tedious to get the proportions right, especially considering that I was determined not to measure anything. I settled on a triangle and reasoned that I could adjust the structure as needed.


Attaching the hexagons to the brace was a little trickier. I didn't want the chopsticks to touch the light, but I didn't have much else to use, given that the only sturdy wire I had was being used to hold my dress shirts in the closet. I wasn't sure if electrical tape would prevent the weight of the chandelier from pulling any sticks attached to the brace perpendicularly from simply slipping out. Wrapping some electric tape around the top of chopsticks that hadn't been broken apart solved the problem. I could clothespin them over the top, then…figure out the rest. Also, after not having enough straws to make this chandelier, I figured I'd try to jazz up the chopsticks and electrical tape with some straws attached by picture-hanging wire. I'm a classy broad.

Look. Jazz.

After attaching the second hexagon I realized that I'd have to do the rest like Michelangelo did the Sistine Chapel—staring at the ceiling. I had no way to suspend the light fixture, so there was little else to do than reattach it to the ceiling. Since I'm blogging this as its happening, let me just say that I know it looks everything that is the opposite of good. Work in progress, and possibly there will be spray paint involved later.   

Well, now it's starting to look like a lopsided pile of pickup sticks as opposed to the modern, clever fixture I had [kind of] envisioned. I think I'll make one more ring, take it out and spray paint it, then figure out where I'm going from there. 

I found a can of wood stain that a friend had given me over a year ago. I figured that since I hadn't used it yet, I might as well make the chopsticks look like they'd been carved from old dorm furniture. It was very orange when I finished. I'll probably hate it.

This is what I made and ate in the meantime.

I do hate it.

However, I am not a wasteful person. I spent a lot of time on this fugly piece of crap, so I am going to save it. After another review of this straw cluster chandelier I opted to combine what straws I had with the mini-monstrosity that I had created. If I make it ugly enough, someone will think I did it on purpose and call me a genius.

There was a long pause when Margaret and Dara came over to have dinner. They both claimed that the cubist birdcage wasn't as hideous as I thought. Dara later helped me cut straws though, and claimed that when I attached them it looked cute, like snowflakes. I'm going with that. My friends are nice.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you "Caged Bird in Snow," my latest installation piece. I can make you one for $7,500.


During my unexpected visit to America I stopped by Hobby Lobby. I bought a large glue gun (the only one I have is tiny) and wood glue sticks. I came back to Japan, went to work for one day, and then went to Taiwan. I returned from the Land of Smiles on Monday, January 10 at about 6:30 p.m. After dropping my suitcase on the floor I hauled the space heater into the bedroom. I watched one episode of Psych while I dismantled my postmodern birdcage light fixture. Then I used hemp string to hang the fluorescent light from my desk. I shoved a large piece of cardboard underneath, heated up the glue gun, and stayed up until 2 a.m. making a new light fixture. Et voila.

The downside is that I’d have to take it apart if one of the bulbs ever burned out, or if I suddenly wanted to spray paint it. I do want to paint it. I’m not really the type to think ahead. Nevertheless, I have a passable, mostly free light fixture. It looks like a nest, but I don’t have a name for it yet. Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments.


  1. the process and zoomed in photos of sticks and tape is kinda comical at times... but really the end result does look quite modern and unique and like something you may buy at an oddly cool handmade store! i do agree that a little spray paint may make the final touch. p.s. those pigs in a blanket look pretty yummy!

  2. BaaaahahahahahahahahahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA! I think you should call it, "Pigs in a Blanket." Yum, that was my favorite part.