Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Embellished Chandelier - Part 2 - Tips and Hints


Last blog I told how I embellished an old chandelier with jewelry findings and crystals.  This time I am sharing some hints and lessons learned I experienced while doing this project.  Hopefully my readers can benefit from my problems and mistakes!  We learn from each other, right?  I know I appreciate all the blogs I have read which have helped me and saved me a lot of time!

But before I get into the hints I wanted to say that I appreciate my followers and hope you are able to continue following now that Blogger (or Google, should I say?) has taken away the Feedburner email subscription function.  I haven't found a replacement yet.  I hope my readers can continue to find me.  Please let me know if you have suggestions or problems (I don't know yet how to solve this but first I just need to know if it really is a problem...)

Hints for working with a vintage or used chandelier:

  • Test your fixture immediately before you do any work on it.  This prevents a lot of wasted time.  If you don’t have a tester, you can just hold both wires to the snap connectors on a 9V battery (separate the two wires and strip off a section of insulation first).
  • Old wires can be brittle - Even though this chandelier had never been used, the two copper wires were sealed together inside a hard, clear coating. I finally got a small section of wires to separate and used my pliers to pull the two apart but they seemed as if they would break off at any moment.  
  • Brittle wires are hard to connect just by twisting!  When I tried to twist them with the wire of a micro plug (to plug it in to my dollhouse system) it didn’t make a connection.  Took some time troubleshooting but eventually I had to strip off the heat shrink tube and solder them all together in order for it to work.
  • Too-short wires – beware that some vintage chandeliers are sold “as-is” and many times sellers don’t check that they work.  If you find one that is not in the original package, ask whether it works.  Also – make sure wires haven’t been cut so short that there is not enough wire to work with.

So how do you hang it??
I have hung a few chandeliers now (6 to be exact; 7 if you count the one I had to replace).  I learn something every time.  But here are my tips for mounting through the floor above where the chandelier will go:

  • Drill a hole in the ceiling for pulling the wires through to the floor above.  This means your flooring in the room above must be removable (I could probably write a blog just on this).  This also means you must have previously run tape wire across the floor to the center of the room to attach to the chandelier.

  • If using a ceiling medallion, you can either glue it to the ceiling now over the hole (line up its hole with the one in the ceiling).   OR glue the chandelier canopy to it, let that dry then glue the medallion to the ceiling after connecting the wires.  Here is a photo of how I held my ceiling medallion in place while the glue dried (using bamboo skewers and a wood circle held against the medallion). I carved two small grooves in the wood circle with an X-Acto knife so the skewer end would sort of rest there and "catch". Strips of scrap basswood would also work.
    Bamboo skewers and wood circle to hold medallion while gluing

    Toothpicks to help align the medallion with the hole (before bracing)

  • Use a canopy (dome shaped piece with a ring that holds the chandelier to the ceiling) and a chain to permanently hold the chandelier.  Don't just let it hang by the wires alone.  It's not  so much the weight but this: if your wires are tight with no slack then they take the force when the chandelier is bumped, instead of the chain and canopy.  If they break, you will throw the chandelier away because they will be too short to connect again.  I have had first hand experience with this (link to my first ever blog post).
  • Make your connection.  Pull the wires through the medallion and ceiling hole and tape them down to the floor to make the connections.  Follow the instructions in your lighting kit and attach the chandelier wires to the tape or round wire of your house using grommets or solder.  I solder my connections because I have had several connections that have come apart.  But soldering is optional.

  • Now glue the canopy to the medallion (or the ceiling if not using a medallion).  Hopefully it is light weight enough you can just hold it a little while until it sets.  Or use removable painter’s tape to hold it in place overnight.  I like Crafter’s Pick Ultimate glue because it is thick and dries fast.  But some like to use solvent glues for metal – such as E6000.

I didn't go into the details on running tape wire or making the grommet connections or soldering because there are so many kits and books that describe this.  Recently I have also started putting micro plugs on the chandelier then soldering the female end of the plug to the tape run (but this is for another blog… ).  I don't consider myself an expert in hanging chandeliers but here are some links to two people who have much more experience.   Both Carl and Tina are very familiar with the Cir-Kit products and have several videos on using their chandelier adapters which can be used on the ceiling (as opposed to through the floor above, as I have done). I use Carl's products for my lighting - power supplies, etc.  He has an AWESOME book that is so helpful and includes information about LEDs and converting your dollhouse from the old 12 volt transformer to DC power (which I have now done - maybe a future blog post??).  I love Tina's videos because, even though she has been building dollhouses for 25 years, she gives a very honest review of products from the perspective of a "newbie" (or "noob" as my grandson would say) including the problems she has encountered with those products.  You learn more from these people than from the Cir-Kit website because they actually show you the components in the bag and what each little piece is used for.

Carl Sahlberg of CR2S - Creative Reproductions 2 Scale

My favorite book on miniature lighting from CR2S

Tina Kaminska Dickenson

In the near future I will have to hang some fixtures on the ceiling of the top floor.  I will let you know how that goes!!

Thanks to my readers for your interest.  Remember to let me know if you are having problems with the loss of Feedburner.   Thinking of what to do next...any suggestions?