Mother Earth Living

Try This: Pendant Light Fixtures

String dipped in glue and wrapped around a balloon or cone of paper makes a unique, modern pendant lamp.
By Susan Wasinger
May/June 2006
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String dipped in glue and wrapped around either a balloon or a cylinder or cone of paper make these unique pendant lamps. We use compact fluorescent bulbs in the lights because they waste less energy through heat, making them both efficient and extra safe.
Photo By Susan Wasinger

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Make a sophisticated design statement with just a ball of string and a little glue. The beauty of these lovely pendant lamps is that you probably have most of the materials in your junk drawer. You can purchase an inexpensive pendant light fixture at the hardware store. This project is simple enough for kids, but the results are decidedly adult. As an added bonus, these make energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights more attractive.

1. To make the round pendant lamp, blow up a balloon to the desired size. Fill a plastic tray or paper plate with a mixture of three parts white glue and one part water. Saturate white cotton string with the glue mixture and gently wrap it around the balloon. Circle the balloon several times, overlapping horizontally and vertically to make a solid structure. Leave enough of a hole at the bottom and the top of the sphere to be able to put in a light bulb.

2. To make a cylindrical lamp shade, roll a firm piece of oversized paper into a cylinder that's big enough to comfortably accommodate the bulb. To make it really easy to release the lamp shade when the glue dries, put a layer of wax paper, tin foil or baking parchment over your paper cylinder. Wrap glue-dripped string around the cylinder (see instructions in step 1), making sure you have lots of diagonal strings to make the shade strong and to create a solid lip of horizonal strings at the top where you will attach it to the light. Use this same technique to make the conical lamp shade, but roll your paper into a cone isntead.

3. Let the glue dry on the forms overnight. Then pop the balloon and help release the glued strings from the form as it deflates. For the paper, simply remove the paper from the interior and carefully crush the lining paper away from the stiff strings. Use thin wire running from edge to edge across the top of the shade to attach the shades to the pendant light fixture.

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