April 26, 2010

The Light

So it's funny, but back when the lockers were on Apartment Therapy and the kitchen was on Design Sponge, I got a surprising number of questions about our light. I still get emails now and then on how we made the thing so, since I decided this weekend to add some rope lighting to the core of the lamp which involved taking it most of the way apart, I thought I'd show you guys how it went together again.

* But first a disclaimer! I'm not an electrician. Over the years I've gotten pretty decent at figuring out wiring, especially old house wiring. But just because this is the way I did it doesn't mean it's THE way to do it. I try to always follow safety precautions with wiring and regularly check things around the house to make sure they are ship shape. *

OK, now that that's out of the way, on to the light.

The origional idea for this light was inspired by a photo I once saw of Nigella Lawson's Kitchen. Along one wall was a mass of white Christmas lights. Since our kitchen is fairly modern and maybe a little stark looking for a house with two crazy kids running around it, we decided that a funky wad of lights dangling from an overstated ceiling medallion would be just the thing to silly things up a bit.

The frame for the lamp is actually two of these, tied together with white electrical tape, wide edges facing eachother. The lights that were on the frame got zapped when someone who shall remain nameless (Hint, it wasn't me and I generally don't let the kids take on the roll of electrician, so also not them) was messing around and wired it wrong. Yeah, that's why the light is one of my projects. Black goes to black. It's just how it has to be.

Anyway, I had always intended to wrap the thing with gobs of Christmas lights anyway so the underlying lights are totally disconnected from the project and we treated the whole thing as a simple frame.

To begin with I fed a six foot long string of rope lights through the core of the lamp. I'm not a big fan of rope lighting in most situations, but inside the lamp they add a lot of light without being at all visable. And in the kitchen, brighter is better in my book.

The end of the rope lamp was plugged into the end of a string of white mini lights which I wrapped around the frame at about one inch intervals until I had used the entire strand up.

Once that string had been used up I plugged it into the next which was wrapped across the circle over and over to form a web.

The web is key because it holds the mass in in the next step. You want it open enough that some lights can dangle through but not so much that the whole thing drops to the floor.

Last strand! The third string of mini lights (fourth altogether) is wadded a bit and stuffed, kind of at random, into the web.

Once it's hung you can pull the wads through to give it a messier look, for the moment though, just stuff it all in little wads into the web.

The last strand was hardwired to some standard lamp wire (the kind you see on floor lamps) which was then secured to the top of the frame. I also secured two dummy sections (meaning they were in no way wired in) to two more points on the fram, creating a balanced, three string look. Because I didn't want the actual wires to do the supporting however, I also hung the three wire hanger that came with the lamp at the same points with the top hooked through a bracket on the ceiling.

If you aren't comfortable with hardwiring, you can also hide an outlet in your ceiling where the junction box is and simply plug the lamp in, hiding the junction with a smaller medallion that mounts to the larger one.

The bulbs will eventually burn out, as all lightbulbs do, so be sure to keep the extras that come with the strands and maybe keep an extra string of lights around to steal bulbs from when you need them> Ours went about eight months with daily use before the bulbs started fading, which isn't bad for teeny little light bulbs!