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Upcycled Lighting Fixtures - Shining a New Light on Old Things

August 24, 2012

By Tracy Steffenson

As the holidays sprint in our direction to slap us in the face with too many sweets, flourishing displays of crisply wrapped boxes tied with ribbons and twenty four hour light spectacles showing in our front yards, it is the perfect time of year to detox from our wasteful ways and keep some extra change in our pockets.

In the spirit of the holidays, and our intentions to do better, the trend of upcycling has been bestowed upon us to keep up our good intentions. The concept is relatively simple – take what you have and make it into something you want.

Lighting is just one way we can upcycle in our home. Just make sure you utilize an energy efficient light source like a CFL (compact florescent lamp) or LED (light emitting diode). Your energy costs will be lower as will your impact on the environment. Plus, the longer life span of the light means you won’t need to replace the bulb as often.

The design is probably already laying around your house, just waiting for your imagination to bring it to new life. Nothing is off limits, so keep an open mind and wait for inspiration to hit.

Perhaps the inspiration is in the kitchen where you can find Mason Jars. Or maybe it is in the den where you have books that have seen better days. Or maybe, just maybe it is hiding in the back of the shed where you left old bicycle parts.

Wherever or whatever your inspiration might be, the key is to think outside the box and renew, reuse and upcycle!

You can handcraft a chandelier comprised of twelve (12) wide mouth Mason jars lit from within by compact fluorescent bulbs. The design is a reflection of old-school Southern hospitality repositioned in a contemporary artistic framework.

Start by drilling holes into the tops of each jar. Using the largest bit you have, drive it through the center of the lid. Next, use pliers to widen the hole to accommodate the lighting fixture you have selected. Remember it’s ok for them all to be different!

The lighting fixture has a detachable ring which is used for holding the lighting fixture to a lamp shade (or in this case the mason jar). Screw the lighting fixture into the hole you drilled and widened and screw the ring on the opposite side of the lid to hold it in place.

After assembling your twelve jars, began attaching them to whatever you plan on using for a hanger. This can be an old board, utensil rack or even old wreath rings (the old school wood circles). Hang the rack (or whatever you used) from the ceiling. Measure the distance you want from the jar to the rack, and then used zip ties to secure the jars and cords in place. All of the cables are bundled together by using zip ties as well.

Once all of the jars are placed, we began hard-wiring all of the lights together. This includes stripping the wires down and using small plastic caps to connect to existing wiring in the ceiling. Once all of the wiring is done, the four corner chains of the utensil rack can connect to a hook placed in the ceiling. Make sure that you purchase a hook that will hold the weight of the chandelier!

If you're not good with electrical stuff you may want to contact a professional to wire it and hang it. It is always better to be safe than to stroke our egos and convince ourselves that we can do something we can’t and end up getting hurt.

And finally, Ta-da! You have your very own mason jar chandelier!

You don’t have to stop here! You can make a one of a kind light fixture out of just about anything including an old bicycle wheel, old books or a paper lantern and coffee filters!

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