Mother Earth Living

Try This: Baby Food Chandelier

This baby food jar chandelier has the all the charm of medieval ironwork—but it comes from the recycling bin.
By Susan Wasinger
May/June 2009
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This chandelier is crafted from humble materials. Aside from a few nuts and bolts, everything was either salvaged or recycled.
Photography By Susan Wasinger
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Lighten up the recycling

This chandelier has all the charm of medieval ironwork—but it comes from the recycling bin. Used baby-food jars, a few yards of twisted wire, a couple repurposed barrel hoops and a length of rusty chain are all it takes to spark images of exotic locales. Powered by votive candles, the chandelier crackles with energy without drawing a single watt.

Materials
Tie wire (about 40 yards)
15 to 18 baby-food jars
15 to 18 votive or tealight candles
2 barrel hoops
6 eyehook bolts (black or rusty, if possible)
12 nuts to match the bolts
About 9 feet of lightweight chain (dark or rusty, if possible)
Large S-hook

Tools
Wire cutters
Needle-nose pliers
Jigsaw with metal-cutting blade for barrel hoops (if needed)
Clamp
Drill
Wrench

1. Measure and cut two 24-inch lengths of tie wire. Make a loop in the center of each wire. Place one loop over the neck of a baby food jar and tighten slightly. Then put the other loop over the neck in the opposite direction. Cinch down.

2. Pulling the loops tightly, twist the end wires around each other to secure the wire on the jar neck. Using needle-nose pliers, tighten loops.

3. Bend the lower wire on each side up so it shoots straight up from the jar. This wire should measure about 8 inches; cut if necessary. Bend the other two wires out horizontally from the jar. Cut these to be about 5 inches long.

4. Grab the tip of the vertical wire and curl it outward to form a spiral. The finished spiral should be about 1 inch across and have about three twists.

5. Spiral the shorter, horizontal wires to about the same size as the ones above, but curl them inward this time. 

6. Repeat the spirals on the two remaining wires to make a symmetrical holder. You could stop here and use this wire-topped jar as the votive holder
shown above. To make the chandelier, repeat with all baby-food jars.

To create chandelier:

7. Cut a 20-inch piece of wire and make a loose loop in its center. Loop it over the two top spirals as shown.

8. With the pliers, make three tight twists at the loop’s neck. Create an oval about 3 inches long. Twist to close the oval, then make 12 to 14 twists in the two wires to create a 3-inch twisted section.

9. Use the pliers to bend the twisted portion down as shown. Leave a few inches of wire beyond the twists. Bend the remaining wire ends into 90-degree angles. Cut each end so that about 1 inch of wire extends beyond the bend. Make a small hook on the end of each wire. The hooks should face forward. They clasp onto the wire loop to lock the candle-holder to the hoop of the chandelier. Repeat steps 7 to 10 with all votives.

10. Clamp the overlapping ends of the metal hoop to your work surface and drill a hole through both layers.      

11. Thread a nut onto the neck of the eyehook bolt, then push the bolt through the hole. With a wrench, fasten the second nut on the end of the bolt to sandwich together the two layers of hoop. 

12. Measure the circumference of your hoop. Drill holes in the hoop at 1⁄3 intervals and affix an eyehook bolt at each position. The chains attach to these bolts. Repeat with second hoop.

13. Insert a link through the bolt’s eye to attach the chain to the bottom hoop. 

14. To attach the top hoop, thread the bolt’s head through the chain’s link.

15. All three chains meet at the top in an S-hook from which the chandelier hangs.     

16. To complete chandelier, first hang your hoop structure where you like it. Then attach votives evenly—we hung six on the top hoop and 12 on the bottom. To attach votives, wrap the bent, twisted section of wire over barrel hoop and clasp wire ends to underside of hoop.

Set up

The chandelier’s simple structural base is made with two hoops; the top hoop has a smaller diameter than the bottom one. Three pieces of 36-inch chain connect them. The three lengths of chain join at the top in an S-hook from which the chandelier hangs.

We made this chandelier using two steel hoops from a decrepit oak half-barrel planter that had weathered many Colorado winters. You will likely need to cut one or both hoops down to size using a jigsaw fitted with a metal blade. The diameter of one hoop should measure 17 inches and the other 24 inches; add an extra 4 inches so the metal ends overlap at the joint.


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