I love to make one of a kind light fixtures from brass parts and beads because they can look very unique and custom. I buy my LEDs and battery holders from Evan Designs (see links throughout this post). The main thing to know when making fixtures using LED bulbs is to use the 3 Volt bulbs if possible. They have the tiniest wires (no lumps) and can be threaded through narrow beads and tubing – making the most nicely scaled lamps and fixtures. Another benefit of the 3 volt LED wires is that they can be drawn through holes in the foam core using a draw thread after the walls are papered (more about this in a later post).
The LEDs use so little energy that you can power even 10 or more bulbs for several hours with a coin cell battery – enough for exhibiting at a show. The 3 Volt LEDS can also be powered with two AA or AAA batteries which can handle more bulbs than a coin cell (30 per Evan Designs) and last longer. (Watch for an upcoming post on how I hid the batteries for this project).
**Click on "lighting" in the sidebar "Blog Keywords" for other posts about LED lighting hints.**
But, back to the 3 Volt lights -- will they be bright enough for a 1 inch scale room? That depends on how many you use and which type. The “Mega” give off a lot of light. They are harder to hide in scale lamps and fixtures (I used Mega in the kitchen pendants and a floor lamp). If you are just wanting a “glow” for effect then the tiny ones are fine (Nano, Chip). I used the tiny “Nano” size in the bathroom sconces and they give off a nice glow.
- LED bulb – 3 volt “nano” size from Evan Designs. I always use warm white and order the extra long wires (14 inch).
- Brass tube 1/16th inch from Hobby Stores or Ebay (K&S is one brand). I bent it with pliers protected with a folded piece of craft foam. It can be cut off using just an X-Acto knife. Make sure that the tubing is cut long enough to extend through the base and poke into the wall a tiny bit to provide a more secure gluing base (for gluing into foam core).
Bath Sconce Supplies
- Cord End - Brass or gold colored cup shaped jewelry finding with hole in the end – I enlarged the hole with an X-Acto knife to fit the brass tube. This is the “socket” that the crystal bead fits in.
- Plastic or crystal bead (large hole if possible). I just pushed the LED up as far as it would go but it wouldn’t go inside the bead. Since the Nano bulb is so tiny it won’t really matter that it isn’t entirely inside the bead (unless you can see it up close in your room). Acrylic beads work great because you can usually enlarge the hole enough to embed the tiny “nano” bulb using just an X-acto knife or drill bit.
- Brass hexagon shaped piece (Etsy – Brass Kicker) for wall mount base (drill hole in center big enough for tubing). But you could use any brass disc that can be drilled – or disc shaped bead spacer.
Assemble in this order: thread bulb wire through Crystal bead, cord end, brass tubing. I didn’t use any glue, the wire sort of just stays. If you need to glue, use bead glue (the kind that doesn’t frost beads – like GS Hypo Cement). I poked a hole in the wall and pulled the wires through to the outside of the building then glued the fixture to the wall (probably with Crafter's Pick Ultimate Glue, can't remember). On the outside of the wall I hid the wires under some wood trim.
I mounted the kitchen pendants on brackets because they couldn't be hung from the ceiling. The ceiling of the Tiny House was a big clear plastic viewing window. I made the brackets just long enough to clear the shelves, about 2-1/4 inches.
In the photo of the finished pendants, one looks brighter than the other. This is because I didn’t get the LEDs facing the same way or one was slightly uneven when pushed up into the plastic bead. Something to watch out for when you make your own. The LEDs do have a front and back and need to be facing the same way when used in pairs. With the warm white ones, the "front" (light emitting) side is sort of yellow - like an egg yolk.
|Evan Designs 3 Volt Mega LED Warm White|
Kitchen Pendant Supplies:
The photo with pink background was a "trial" fixture using a different type of bulb and without the pony bead but shows the cage and cord end up close.
|Pony Beads and Cord Ends|
- LED – 3 volt warm white “Mega” LED (Evan Designs) with 14 inch wires. I used “Mega” so it would give a bright light.
- Clear plastic pony beads to simulate bulbs, I enlarged one hole slightly with a metal file (sort of squared up the hole) so the LED would fit up inside the bead and shine straight down.
- Cord ends (same as used for the bath sconces above).
- Brass tubing – two pieces were used for each one, a shorter one inside the “cage” to disguise the wire and another longer one to hide the wire between the fixture and the bracket
- The cage part of the fixture was made from some geometric earrings (Ebay). There are several types of cage earrings shown in the supplies photo but the one I used was pyramid shaped.
- Wall brackets were made from slices of crown molding (Ebay Seller Manchester Wood Works, item MW 12023) and basswood scraps about 2-1/4 inches long by 3/32 inch thick. A hole was drilled at one end for the wire. The corners on one end were beveled with sandpaper. Glue the crown molding to the flat wood piece with wood glue. I cut the crown molding on my table saw to match the width of the flat wood piece but you can also buy sliced crown molding pieces from the same seller (and glue two together if they are not thick enough).
- Brass strips (from a K-S metal scrap bag) were used to hide the wiring on top of the bracket. These scrap pieces had a very narrow edge on both long sides providing a "track" for the wires to be hidden. But if you can't find these specific pieces, you could also sandwich the wires between two pieces of wood with a carved channel to cover the wires.
I threaded the Mega LED wires through the pony bead, cord end, then short brass tube. Then I sort of wrapped the wire around the ring at the top of the earring cage. Then through the long brass tube then through the hole drilled in the bracket. I laid them flat across the top of the bracket and glued on the brass tracks covering the wires.
When dry I pulled them through a hole in the wall and up through the foam (inside the wall) to the top edge of the wall. I used a big needle and some button thread to make a loop to draw the wire through the hole. Since the Tiny House was still just a shell and I hadn't filled it with furniture I was able to lay it on its side to glue the brackets to the wall. More on how I covered the wires and brought them to the battery area in a later post.
Hope you enjoy making pendant fixtures. There are lots of earring styles that would make great modern "cage" fixtures. Watch for the making of some more modern lamps in an upcoming post!