One of my favorite projects for our recent gazebo update was making this outdoor chandelier out of objects I already had – including one that was destined for the dump. I invariably feel good when I get rid of things and clean up, but this is one time I’m glad I hadn’t felt the need to clean out the garden shed in a while.
I found this box of vintage jelly jars for $3.00 at a thrift store more than eight years ago. They can’t be used for anything other than storage now since they were made for use with plastic lids (I think for the days of wax sealing for jams), but I knew at the time I wanted to make some sort of candle holders out of them, so I’ve held on to them all this time.
When we were finally ready to finish the gazebo, I walked around our property looking for things I could combine with the jars to create a candle chandelier to hang inside. After gathering the supplies, it only took a little more than an hour (surprisingly) to complete the chandelier. I don’t usually work with wire, so I think I assumed it would take longer.
This is good news – no special skills, use what you have & spend three bucks? Honestly, it’s projects like these that make me giddy.
But you guys already know it doesn’t take much around here.
Here are the materials you’ll need to replicate this found-item chandelier:
- 7 jelly jars (any small jar with a lip that will hold the wire will work, and can usually be found at thrift stores, sales, and flea markets)
- rusted canning rack (or spray paint a new one)
- rusted wire (pays to forget a roll of wire outside!)
- rusted U-shaped metal holders (neither Brian nor I have a clue what these are or where they came from, but I incorporated them because I had them, and though they are optional, you might find other things like this that may work- I encourage you to look around, too)
- chain in desired length (plus black and brown spray paint to “rust” the chain a bit to help it blend if it’s shiny chrome like ours was)
- small wire cutters & needle-nosed pliers
Steps to make the bail wire handles:
- After measuring and cutting the length of wire needed for each jar (mine were about 16-1/2 inches for a 1-1/2 inch tall finished handle), use the needle-nosed pliers to make as small a loop as you can in one end (smaller jewelry pliers would’ve worked easier, but I didn’t have any).
- Hold the loop close to the jar where you want it to be and wrap the wire around the jar, just under the lip where the wire will rest.
- Thread the straight end through the loop.
- To give the handle a nice curve, bend the wire back around the jar, pressing against the jar to help shape the wire.
- Bring the curved handle back up to the middle of the jar opening and thread the end between the jar and wire opposite of the starting loop. You may have to ease the wire down the jar to make enough room to slip the handle wire underneath – just bring it back up to right under the lip after it’s secure.
- Use the pliers to make another small loop around the jar wire to finish the handle.
- Admire your handle. Then repeat for the remaining jars.
Seriously – this seems like a lot of steps, but I wanted it to be very clear. After doing the first one and getting the hang of it, each jar took only a few minutes to complete. I really did think they’d take longer.
And, yes, there are more than seven jars here. I wasn’t sure how many I’d use in the finished chandelier, so I made handles for all the jars I had. I’ll use the extras on shepherd hooks around the gravel patio, I think.
To attach the wire handles to the canning rack, turn the canning rack upside down, cut a small piece of wire and wrap it around the handles and rack, attaching the jars at each spot the rack has a metal connecting piece (gah – figuring out what to call all these parts is the harder than making it ever was!).
On normal canning racks there are 6 connecting pieces, so I wired a jar to each of these spots on the outside and then finished the chandelier by wiring a jar to the middle of the rack – though it’s on a loop to bring it down a bit, it’s still higher than the other jars. I didn’t worry too much about how even they were all hanging – I was going for that “cottage look” of imperfection anyway.
Um…yeah, as if using rusted wire and a worn-out canning rack was at any time going to be perfect.
To complete the chandelier, bring the canning rack handles together and use pieces of wire to hold in place and attach any connecting pieces (like these U-shaped things we had) – or simply use wire to hold the rack handles together. Once the handles are secure, attach a chain to the center of the handles (or whatever you’re using) – again with wire.
In our case, those U-shaped thingys we found came with screws so I was able to just thread the chain through both of them and didn’t need the wire. But since I’m being so clear with the name…a-hem…I’m guessing you might not be able to find anything like this, so then wiring would be the next option.
Oh, I wanted to mention, too, that I just spray painted the shiny silver chain with black and brown, but not very thoroughly to try and replicate a rusty-type look (since I didn’t have any special rust-finish paints).
I sprayed one side with black as it lay on a piece of cardboard, let it dry, then sprayed the other side leaving some silver showing on both sides. Then I repeated the process with brown paint – but just in spots here and there until I thought it looked close enough to the rest of the rusty pieces. Remember it’s hanging up high so no one is going to be looking closely at it – and if you can find a rusty chain, all the better!
Hang the chandelier using a couple of wood-screw hooks (if that’s what those hooks you can screw into wood are called…) and fill each jar with a tea light or votive candle.
Since we installed this I’ve been thinking about finding a strand of white solar lights to wrap around the canning rack and maybe filling each jar with some, if the strand is long enough. Then it would light up whenever there was enough sun to power it – wouldn’t that be cool?
What do you think? Is this a project you’d like to do – or have you already done something like this? What would you do with a case of vintage jars?
This is day 4 in our series (you can click on the button to see all the posts in the category). If you’re wondering what’s up, you can read the introduction to 31 Days of Thrift Store Transformations here.
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