My Inspiration

I've been in the mood for a new dining fixture and had just the thing in mind. A clean, sophisticated piece that would place some bright direct light on the table (as I do quite a bit of work at the table), but also cozy, romantic, and dimmable, with a bit of Parisian chic. Was I asking too much?...NO.

Here is the result...and I love it.

The shades are made with a newspaper and glue mixture and then painted gold on the inside (giving them some good reflective power) and black on the outside. As opposed to being perfectly smooth, they resemble Geodes (gems on the inside and plain textured stone on the outside).

Here's how you can create this pendant light yourself.

To make the shades, fill a 4 gallon bucket full of torn newspaper (small pieces, about 2" x 2"). The smaller they are, the easier and faster they will absorb the glue and water mixture. I ended up using one Sunday SF Chronicle (without the glossy ads). Then add your glue and water mixture (enough to totally saturate the paper) The mixture should be 3 parts water to one part Elmers All Purpose Glue. *To accelerate the process, I used very hot water but you don't have to.

After allowing the paper and glue mixture to soak for about 5 hours, get your hands dirty. Mix the paper and glue/water mixture with your hands while kneading and tearing the paper. It should quickly turn into a clay-like pulp. Once you have all the lumps broken down you are ready to start shaping your shades.

I wanted an 18" diameter shade so I used a kids bouncy ball (that I found at Toy's R Us) as my form. To easily work with the form, I just placed it on top of a bowl, drew a line around the ball where I wanted the bottom edge of my shades to be, covered the top of the ball with plastic (so that I could easily pull off my shade when dry), taped a piece of jute twine to the very top of the ball (which would create the opening for my electrical wire), and started placing my paper clay mixture on the form.

The paper clay mixture is VERY easy to work with. Just pull a glob out of your bucket, squeeze the excess water out, and place it on your form (ball) while flattening it down. Continue in this manner until you have the area of your ball that you have marked as your shade shape covered. Then you just need to keep the form dry and still for about 2 days. Once the exterior of your shade feels dry and stiff, work the sides gently while pulling it off your ball form. Then place your shade upside down in another bowl for the inside of the shade to completely dry. *I used the same form for all 3 of my shades so it took me about a week to complete the 3 shades. The good news is that your paper clay mixture in your bucket will keep for the week as long as you cover it with plastic and keep it in a cool dry spot.

Once the shades are completely dry, inside and out, it's time to paint them. I painted the inside of the shades with 2 coats of gold fabric paint (letting them dry between coats). Then I turned them over and spray painted the outside of the shades a flat black.

You're done with the shades. Now it's time to put together the electrical pieces. I painted 3 bakelite sockets the same gold that I used on the interior of the shades. *I used bakelite sockets as they do not get as hot as the brass or porcelain sockets.

Using black rayon covered 18 gauge electrical wire, I attached the sockets, strung them through the top of the shades and then through my homemade canopy.

To avoid having to have a large canopy specially made, I visited Sur La Table Hardware Kitchen Store and found something that would work perfectly. A 16" diameter by 2" deep cake pan. I just drilled 4 holes in it; 3 equidistant on the perimeter of the round pan (for hanging the pendants) and 1 directly in the center (to attach the canopy to the ceiling electrical box). Then I primed and painted it the same color gold that I used on the inside of the shades.

This was an easy project but it did take a couple of weeks to complete as I only had about an hour a day to work on it. Once the shades are complete, you could easily get the entire project done in a day. It's worth every minute of time spent.

Try it!...Lori