After I made my Walnut and Aluminum Table Lamp, I decided that I wanted to make something bigger. I came up with a design when I saw an empty vodka bottle in the recycling. In my original design, I wanted to make the base out of round aluminum bar, however I ended up redesigning the lamp so that I could make it out of cast iron piping. I would still like to make this project as it was originally envisioned, however I don't have any specialized equipment to bend 3/4" thick solid aluminum bar.
One of the major difficulties of this project was finding the correct wire. I had decided from the start that I wanted to use fabric covered wire for the majority of the design, and quickly realized that it was either very difficult to find or extremely expensive. There were stores selling it in the USA, however it would cost me a fortune to ship it to Canada. In the end, I ordered the wire straight from China, for about $13 total. I used a website called AliExpress, owned by Alibaba.
Overall, the lamp cost less than $150, and took around 5 hours to build.
*I apologize in advance for the lack of photos of the construction. I will try and make up for them with some illustrations of the steps*
Step 1: Tools and Materials:
-Tile Saw (or other glass cutting tool)
-Sandblaster (or fine sander)
-1/2" Black Iron Piping: (all standard sizes, if not your hardware store should be able to cut it)
- 6' x1
- 2' x2
- 6" x5
- 3" x2
- Straight Connector x2
- Tee Connector x2
- 45 Degree Connector x2
- Weather-proof Box x1
- End Caps x4
-15' of Decorative Electrical Cord (18 gage minimum)
-6-8' of Cord (18 gage minimum)
-1/2" and 1" Heat Shrink
-3 Light Bulb Sockets
Step 2: The Skeleton:
The main structure of the lamp is made of iron piping. I bought everything from Home Depot, and made my design fit around the pre-cut sizes that they offered. In total, I believe I spent around $85 on piping and fittings, as well as the electrical box. The electrical box is a weather-proof aluminum box in "bronze" colour. It was the closest colour to the piping and I think it blends in pretty well.
The first thing I did was wipe the oil off of the piping and fittings with terpentine. Then I assembled the whole lamp and tightened everything with a pipe wrench. It is very important to make sure you completely tighten all of the fittings at this stage, because if they come loose later you will have to remove all of the electrical cord and the pendants to make any adjustments. I decided not to paint my lamp, but if you are going to paint it the perfect time would be after it is assembled and all the fittings are tight, before you add all of the electrical. You may have to sand some of the surface rust off of the pipe for any paint to stick.
Step 3: Preparing the Bottles:
I used a vodka, a water, and a juice bottle to make the shades for the pendants. As you can see from the pictures, I have two decorative incandescent bulbs and one high efficiency bulb. The bottle that the high efficiency is frosted, via sandblasting, so that you can't see the bulb.
The main thing that the bottles need to have done is have their bottoms removed. Without removing the bottoms, it would be impossible to assemble the lamp and you would also never be able to fit a light bulb inside. I used a wet tile saw to cut the bottoms off my bottles, but you could also use the score+thermal shock method to cut your glass. After separating the bottoms, I used a router with a diamond bit to sand off any sharp edges.
Step 4: Electrical:
The first thing that I did was cut all of my decorative wire to length so that the pendants would hang at the heights I wanted them to. Then I soldered the socket to the wire, making sure to match the black and white wires. After all three were done, I threaded the cord through the neck of the bottle and soldered all three of the wires to the single wire that wraps up the main support of the lamp, making sure to match the black and white wires again. I used heat-shrink on all of my connections to make them look cleaner, over top of the electrical tape that separates the black and white solder points.
The single wire that runs down the lamp goes into the weather-proof electrical box at the base of the lamp. The decorative cord and the black cord that runs to the wall both enter through a fitting that keeps the wire from pulling out of the box. Inside the box, the black wire, which is the wire that carries current, is switched. The black wire from the wall runs to the switch which runs to the black wire in the decorative cord. I used marrettes to tie all the connections together.
After all of the electrical was done I attached the backing that came with the box to the bottom to keep everything inside.
Step 5: Placement of the Pendants:
To keep my pendants in place and run the wire the way I wanted, I used thin black zip ties. They blend in with the black iron piping pretty well, and they do the job. I used one for the top of each pendant, and then a few more around the first bend and the place where the three cords are connected to the single cord.
Step 6: Finished!
Overall, I am very happy with the outcome of this project. The lamp stands about 7'6" tall, so it currently resides in the living room because it is too large for most of the other rooms in the house. I originally bought 60W incandescent bulbs, but they were too bright so I exchanged them for 40W. Now you can view the glowing filaments of the bulbs without discomfort, which was the original intent of having the decorative bulbs.
One thing that could be used on the lamp if you used three incandescents instead of using the high efficiency is that you could use a conductive switch with three brightness settings. You cannot dim high efficiency bulbs, so the switch unfortunately doesn't work for my design. It would make the lamp much easier to turn on and off, because simply touching any of the metal parts would trip the switch.
Thanks for reading!