Introduction: White Birch: Creative Hanging Light Fixture
Runner Up in the
Lights Contest 2017
After countless hours of searching for the perfect light for one of our (soon-to-be) bed and breakfast guest rooms, I decided that to get exactly what I was looking for, I was going to have to break out my tools, and create my own. I will go through the process as best I can here, and I hope I can provide enough details to help you create a unique hanging light fixture for your space too! I don't get into too much detail on the wiring (I'm not sure of the correct terms and language), but anyone with some electrical experience should be able to help with the wiring part of this project if you have any questions. Or, comment on the post, and I will be happy to help in any way I can. --Laura
White birch logs: the size is completely up to you, but for the sides of the ladder, I used logs that are approximately 3" in diameter and 6' long; the rungs are approximately 2.5" in diameter and 15" long.
White extension cords (16 gauge): this will depend on the size of the ladder you build, but I used 2-12' extension cords that were cut and fit as needed.
Quart sized wide-mouth mason jars with metal rings and lids (4)
Porcelain fixture sockets (4-2 3/16")
Threaded nipples (4-1 1/2" pieces)
Brass hex nuts (12)
2" wood screws (12)
Matte finish poly spray
4" eye bolts with nuts (4)
Lamp chain (4')
Ceiling mount accessories
LED copper-wire faerie lights (approximately 25')
Silk wisteria flower bunches (6)
Wicker bird nests (2)
Craft birds (2 small-medium sized to perch on nests)
Silk clip-on butterflies or bumble bees to scatter in flowers (6)
Step 1: Making the Ladder (step 1)
To begin, I cut my birch logs to length (2-6' pieces for the sides of the ladder, and 6-15" pieces for the rungs), and then tapered both ends of the rungs with an ax and pocket knife until the ends measured approximately 1" in diameter for 2-3".
Step 2: Making the Ladder (step 2)
After the rungs were all tapered to approximately 1" in diameter, I drilled evenly spaced 1 1/4" holes in the ladder sides.
Step 3: Making the Ladder (step 3)
The next step was a bit like putting a puzzle together. I worked the rungs into the sides of the ladder and moved them around as necessary to get the most level fit. After each rung was in the best-fitting position, I drilled through the sides and rungs and secured them with 2" wood screws.
Step 4: Making the Ladder (step 4)
I completed the ladder by cleaning it good with a water/Clorox solution, then allowed it to dry well and coated it with a matte finish poly spray. After drying, I put 4" eyelet hooks at the end of each side of the ladder for hanging, and attached brass lamp chain so that the ladder would hang approximately 10" from the ceiling (20" of chain at each end).
Step 5: Wiring the Lights
I decided to use four lights on my ladder, but you could use as many or as few as you'd like. I started by drilling through the sides of the ladder in the center, and then through the center of two of the rungs to evenly space the lights. Next, I cut the socket end off of one of the extension cords (I left the plug on to start so that I could test everything before I hard-wired it to the ceiling), and wired the lights in a parallel circuit. Because I also added white faerie lights to mine, I left the socket end on a second extension cord and ran that in parallel as well; this way, I could plug them in to more easily accommodate the converter required for the LED lights, and to also allow me to change the lights depending on the season or occasion if I want. I used plastic staples to secure all of the wiring to the top of the ladder.
To make the mason jar lights, I drilled a 1/2" circle in the center of each metal lid, as well as a 1/4" hole off to the side a bit to allow for heat release, and assembled my light sockets (socket-threaded nipple-hex nut/hex nut-jar lid-jar ring-hex nut).
After all of the bulb wiring was completed, I wrapped the faerie lights around the rungs and sides of the ladder, and plugged them into the extension cord socket that I mounted on top of the ladder where it wouldn't be as noticeable when you look up at the light in the room.
Step 6: The Final Product
Once all the wiring was done and tested, I added some glass marbles to the bottom of my mason jars, screwed them onto the lids, and hard-wired the light to the actual ceiling socket on one side, and created a faux ceiling socket on the other. After the light was hung and the wiring complete, I added the silk wisteria, birds nests, birds, and butterflies.
The light is most definitely a conversation piece in the room, and it was just the touch I needed!
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