Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Tutorial: Embellishing a Miniature Chandelier

I feel it is very hard to find miniature light fixtures that aren’t dated-looking or that look like they were from a big-box hobby store (common).  I don’t like most of those battery fixtures – the bases are very thick and the bulbs very squared off, they don’t look like candle flames when on sconces and chandeliers.  They have their place – like maybe in a room box, where there are only a few fixtures but who would want to turn on many of these every time you display your dollhouse?  This is why I have so many blog posts for making sconces, lamps, etc.

I like traditional fixtures but want a modern spin on it.  I found one that I really like at Lighting Bug.  I purchased it but it was kind of expensive (absolutely worth it when you consider the artistry!).  But when I decided I needed another one, I wanted to try to replicate it using a less expensive chandelier to start with. Here is the one I purchased (left) and the one I embellished (right).

Here is how I did it. Supplies and tools are in bold and also listed with cost at the end.

  1. Find moderate cost working chandelier with graceful curved arms, simple lines and narrow sections of post that you could fit a brass flower around (with a center hole).  Mine was a vintage Clare Bell Brass 6 arm Williamsburg-type with large turned balls on the post.
    Vintage Chandelier purchased for $75 with shipping

  2. Find brass petal findings with long, slim petals, about 1-1/2 inches tip to tip, 6 petals. I found these searching "layered flower finding" on Etsy.

  3. If you can only find them riveted together (as mine were), they can be easily separated by drilling through the rivet.  Use a drill bit a little larger than rivet hole.  If possible, use a drill press for straight vertical drilling (or your Dremel with steady hands and pliers to hold finding so it doesn’t move when drilling).  Notice in the photo that these were kind of rusty.  It will buff out with steel wool.
  4. I used two findings, they were the same size but one was flatter and the other one was taller, with the petals pushed together sort of like a crown (photo below, the one being drilled).  The crown shaped one I used near the top of the chandelier – to mimic the one I was trying to replicate.
  5. Cut through the center ring between two petals to open the ring (I just used my wire cutter).  Use pliers to open it up wide enough so it will fit around the chandelier.  I just found some spots where the center post of the chandelier was very narrow and fit the open ring over two of those spots (but don’t put it on yet).
  6. Drilling holes for crystals - I used my Dremel and wire drill bit (#64?)

    • Its easiest to turn the flower upside down and drill through the back of the petal.  This way the drill bit didn’t ‘walk’ as much as when I tried to drill it from the top
    • My findings were kind of thick brass and it took a while for the wire bit to get through.  After about 7 holes I had to re-charge my Dremel.  Let it do the work and don’t press down very much.  It may take a while.
    • Any scratches from the drill bit ‘walking’ can be removed in later steps with sandpaper and steel wool
  7. Once drilled, sand lightly with 400 grit sandpaper over the holes to remove snags.  Then smooth all the scratches with 0000 (‘four ought’) steel wool.  This should make the brass very shiny, smooth and golden.  If the underneath side of the holes will show, then sand and steel wool there too.  I found the steel wool was able to remove some rusty looking spots that must have been there for years (these were vintage findings).   In the photo below, the petal near the knife tip was buffed with steel wool while the petal right below it still has some scratches from the sandpaper.

  8. Preserve that golden brass glow by spraying the finding front and back with a clear acrylic spray.  I used an old product “Triple Thick Glaze”.
  9. The crystals – I used some tiny clear ‘delica’ beads (cylindrical, very tiny) and larger 2mm (hard to find) and 3 mm Swarovski crystal beads.  I used some thin brass non-tarnishing beading wire and cut two pieces (since it was so thin).  I threaded one delica over both pieces of wire then brought the four ends up together with the bead at the bottom of the fold of wire.  Then I threaded the bigger 2 or 3 mm bead on the four wires.  Then another 1 or 2 delicas – threading all 4 wires through them.  I put all 4 wires through the BACK of one of the drilled holes in the finding, folded it around the petal and twisted the wire about 3 or 4 times.  The steps are shown in order in the first photo below.


  10. Clip off the excess wire with flush cut pliers.  Put all the crystals on the finding before trying to put the finding on the chandelier.  Repeat for the other finding (if you are also doing two).  
  11. When ready to put the findings on the chandelier, use pliers to open it up and slip it onto the stem of the chandelier.  Try not to scratch it (but it may be inevitable).  I did not glue my findings – they are just wobbling around.

  12. I also put crystals hanging from each of the 6 arms using the same process.  I used the bigger (3mm) crystals with the delicas on the arms.
  13. Even though my chandelier was brand new, still in the box and never been connected there were some rusty spots in the brass I noticed AFTER I did the work of embellishing.  So I brushed over them with clear nail polish (actually used some old Fimo glaze but it is the same thing).  I didn’t want these to continue rusting or make the fixture look patchy after a few years though it still might.  Time will tell.

Costs:
Vintage Clare-Bell Chandelier - $74.50 (with shipping, Ebay)
2mm Swarovski crystals - $5 (with shipping, Ebay; from China)
3mm Swarovski crystals - $5 (with shipping, Ebay; from China)
Crystal Delica beads - $8 (with shipping, Etsy store “Seaofbeadstx”)
Tarnish resistant brass beading wire, 34 gauge (Artistic Wire brand) - $6
Vintage flower findings -  $8 (with shipping, Etsy “BossJewelrySupply”)
(total = $106)

Hope this inspires you to embellish a chandelier.  Next time - some hints on working with vintage or used chandelier and hints on hanging a chandelier.

6 comments:

  1. That is a great makeover! I love the chandelier that you have made. The transformation is very succesful. And looking at the difference in cost, a great motivation.

    I myself am working/strugling on a chandelier project. Your post has been very inspiring and helpful to make up my mind about that little project. thank you. :-)

    Huibrecht.

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    1. Huibrecht, don't give up. I have had many struggles with lights and electrifying. I always feel better if I let it go for the night and come at it again the next day with a fresh mind and a fresh cup of coffee!

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  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Isabel! I appreciate your support!

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  3. A really lovely upgrade, especially your idea of adding the the extra glass drops to the new brass leaves as well!

    elizabeth

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    Replies
    1. So glad you like it, Elizabeth. You always provide very thoughtful and specific comments!

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