Instructables
Picture of Mason Jar Chandelier
After living for close to two years without enough live/work light I decided to make a lighting fixture. One that would meet my specific needs without costing an arm and a leg. I had long thought of putting light bulbs in the hundreds of peanut butter and applesauce jars that I had eaten my way through. I had also collected my fair share of mason jars and thought that they too could make for an inexpensive solution. In the end I chose the mason jars as they don't come with sticky and hard to remove manufactures' labels and I wouldn't have to wait until I ate my way through ten jars of Crazy Richard's chunky peanut butter.

Before I went about an actual design, I searched the web to see if anyone had built a chandelier made from mason jars or similar. I came across several do-it-your-selfers. The best was posted by Our Hiding Place which led me to Pottery Barn's Exeter 16 Jar Pendant Chandelier. It's a really nice design and lists for $399. I was determined to customize mine and make it for less but I wanted detailed step-by-step instructions and I wasn't finding them anywhere.

First thing I did was to determine how much light I needed and what the electrical requirements would be. (Disclosure: I am not an electrician and am not recommending voltage or wiring. Each State has their own codes regarding home wiring. Also, the following instructions will not guide you on how to wire the ceiling leads and wall switch.)

The space where I planned on having the chandelier is over my dining/art table. (I built the table to again, suit my particular needs.) There is an existing electrical port in the ceiling that unfortunately, due to inept design is positioned too close to one wall restricting the width of a ceiling fixture. After identifying the maximum voltage I could then decide on the number of jars and matching bulb wattage. (Voltage, watts and amps are different. Again, I am not an electrician but am lucky enough to have a friend who is one hell of an incredible licensed electrician. If you don't know what you're doing, consult a licensed electrician.)

Based on my space and lighting needs, I decided on 10 jars with 25 watt bulbs. (Before you decide on the jars and the bulbs make sure the bulbs will fit inside the jars.) I tested different jars and bulbs first, before committing to the final design. I wanted to make sure that the heat generated from the bulbs wouldn't cause the jars to break or create condensation inside the jars. For the tests I purchased a simple lamp cord kit from the local hardware store. (It's a cord with a plug on one end and a socket on the other.) I already had a couple of mason jars on hand. My test proved successful so I ordered the rest of the needed parts. (See list on last Step or visit: http://brucekatlin.blogspot.com/ which includes links to vendors' sites.)
 
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pborja made it!2 months ago

Hi, I made this lamp, but the mason jars started to smell like amonia. Can you tell me if the ones you made smelled the same? I didnt make two small holes to let the heat go. But I dont know if is this the problem. Can you tell me what you think? Tips please!

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katlinbr (author)  pborja29 days ago

Pborja: I believe I answered your question but please tell me if you require more info. B

zdgarner1986 made it!6 months ago

Made this for the dining room in my new home. Looks great!

Thanks for the excellent instructable.

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today me and my wife went to lowes and as always stopped to look for a ceiling fan or chandelier for the dining room. found a hanging light with lampshade on it and got us to coming up with designs of our own. one of which was mason jar chanelier. get home and find this instructable. well done and very informative! thank you and to all the commenters. how are they holding up and how is the heat from the lights?
katlinbr (author)  kdf.inc19691 year ago
Glad to hear that you like the project. Since I posted this instructable I've increased wattage of half of the bulbs to 40w and have of course while hot to the touch if left on for a while, they have not overheated. Just make sure to drill the small air holes in the lids.

Bruce
Well written and nice pictures. I'm going to be doing this with wine bottles...I like the idea of using the grounding bar. Bravo! Wayne
katlinbr (author)  divedaddy031 year ago
Many thx. Let me know if you have any questions.
cassiemaas1 year ago
I'm wondering how this would look if you covered the sides of the jars with torn tissue paper and applied it with Vano Liquid starch. The bottoms would be clear to direct the light downward, but the tissue paper would add color to the fixture.
pmclean11 year ago
I love this and will be trying it!
katlinbr (author)  pmclean11 year ago
Did you start yet?
Soozyk1 year ago
I'm going to make one for my dining room. Great instructions, TY !!
katlinbr (author)  Soozyk1 year ago
Good luck and let me know how it turns out.
zacker1 year ago
these look great!! Great idea too! Would drilling a couple holes in each lid keep condensation down? Id like to use 40 watt bulbs in two or three four jar lamps over our center island...
I am going to make a 4 lamp chandelier to go over my sink. There is no junction box to tie into so it will be corded, do you have any suggestions on how to do this safely? Thank you, your chandelier is brilliantly made and helped me design mine.
so it will be more like a swag ...? it will just hang from the ceiling and the wires will run down the wall to an outlet which youll plug the lamp into correct? if so, you can buy some chain, the thin stuff they use on some lights that hand from a ceiling... then get a colored cord to match the chains color, weave the cord through the chain from floor to lamp. it wont be the best looking thing but it will work. or use that "outside the wall" channel that goes over the wires so you dont see them then run the wires into the wall and fish them over to the closest outlet or switch to power them. Good luck!
katlinbr (author)  candacegeldreich2 years ago
There are a couple of options but as I mentioned several times in the instructions and in comments below, make safety first and consult an electrician if you're not confident about electrical connections.

You can purchase individual lamp cord kits. The ones that IKEA sells are very popular. You can either connect them to a power strip or cut the plug ends off, piggy-back them into one cord. The instructions that this designer used will help you: http://www.sproutingoff.com/?p=206

Good luck and let me know how it works out.
ellenml2 years ago
great instructable! I love the lights, I have been looking for something like this!
bajablue2 years ago
This is really beautiful. Thanks for sharing your project!
To expand on strehlow's comments;

Cast about for a electrical product called a terminal block. Radio Shack probably has them, and many places on line. They come in sizes from one wire to dozens. They insulate the connections and cover some of them cover the connections to prevent accidental shocks.

They look as professional as bus bars, if not moreso. I do like that repurposed bus bars by the way, they certainly are handy.

Find nylon washer and bolts, if nothing else, to raise and insulate your bus bars. Available at hardware stores that have the whole aisle of nuts/bolts/fasteners/wingthingies.

That said, VERY nice looking. Nice proportions. Really well done.

Cheers,

Fin
If the bus bars are enclosed in the box, where is the potential for shock?

Terminal blocks are used to connect 2 wires unless a jumper strip is used.

The lamp cord should have only enough insulation removed to expose approx.
1/4" of wire exposed. Electrical tape is only a band aid.

I do like the lamp.

Joe
katlinbr (author)  smokin joe2 years ago
Joe: Thanks for your comments. I used the electrical tape as mentioned in the how-to steps to prevent the nylon cord from fraying. Additionally, I originally planned on "piggy-backing" the wires but decided on the bus bars as better.
katlinbr (author) 2 years ago
Addressing Fin and Strehlow's most excellent comments, please see my reply:

Safety was my number one concern when building this project. (Electricity scares me). As I wrote in the introduction to the project, I consulted an electrician, as I am not one. Strehlow's comment is correct that, the wired socket pictured is incorrectly wired, (I would have replaced the photos if, I had taken them) I did wire all ten correctly as noted.

Regarding the bus bars being attached directly to the wood: the ceiling is 4' sealed concrete. There are no water sources above however, I agree that the bus bars be place "inside a plastic or metal box within the wooden one" or use Fin's suggestion of using nylon washers to raise the bus bar from off the wood.

Lastly, the screws that attached the sides of the wooden box are accessible, as I puttied them lightly enough for easy location.

Thank you to both Fin and Strehlow for their helpful comments.
yellow21212 years ago
Good timing I was just thinking about building one of these myself. The only thing I was going to do different is drill holes around the lid to let heat escape. Do you notice the jars getting very hot?
katlinbr (author)  yellow21212 years ago
Yellow: I tested the jars for heat using several different size bulbs prior to construction and found that 40 watt bulbs created condensation. I tired 25 watt bulbs and used a 1/16" bit to drill 6 small holes around the lid to allow heat to escape from the jar. See step 2.) I had the lights on for 6 hours yesterday, turned to full power (they're on a dimmer) and the jars were moderately warm. Please let me know if you have any other questions and how your project works out.
druidrat2 years ago
Very nice.
Just a thought, but tinning the ends of the wire will keep it from fraying and give better electrical connections.
strehlow2 years ago
This is pretty nice. I have a few safety points though.

When placing the wires on the terminals in the sockets, always go around the screw clockwise. This is so the wire gets wrapped tighter as you tighten the screw. On yours, the wire is being pushed out from under the screw head as it is tightened.

Since the socket is hanging from the wire, it must have a strain relief. Typically this would be an "underwriter's knot." Another knot must be at the top. Do not rely on the electrical connections to be structural.

http://hope.edu/academic/engineering/labs/Electricity_Lab/Figures.html

Dropping a ground wire which is attached to the nipple to support the weight would be better. This is especially important as if one of the socket wires do pull off, the metal ring holding the jar in place could be energized.

Regarding the connections inside the box. The bus bars are fine for that but they cannot be attached directly to the wood. They must be on approved insulators. If water gets in there, the wood will become conductive and could start burning or be a shock hazard. And wood is not an approved electrical box. The connections should be inside a plastic or metal box within the wooden one.

A better solution would be to use crimp connectors to gather up all the wires down to a set of pigtails to connect to the in-wall wiring. That would probably be a bit cheaper than the grounding rails too.

The polarity must be maintained too. Yes, it is AC, but the two wires coming out of the box in the ceiling are not equal. The white one is grounded and the black or red is hot. The white wires must connect to the outside of the lamp sockets and the hot wire to the center terminal. This is so if someone changes a bulb with the power on, they don't get shocked touching the base of the bulb.

Finally, the box needs to be accessible. The screws cannot be puttied over. Any point where wires have connections must have an access point. So some other hanging approach would be preferred. A simple approach is to use another nipple protruding through the center that is attached to the ceiling with a flange, and then have a decorative cap nut to hold the box to the ceiling.
This is great! I may use your wiring technique to convert a few old bike rims into a chandelier.
katlinbr (author)  audreyobscura2 years ago
That sounds like a great idea. Please share it with me when you complete it.
Very pretty! I've been wanting to do something like this for years. :D
katlinbr (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
Thank you Jessy. If you decide to build one, let me know if you have any questions and hopefully I'll be able to help.
kathynv2 years ago
Very, very nice. I'd make it with LCD lights in white or perhaps a yellow, because I am small and changing lightbulbs in a ceiling fixture is torture to me. If power use and changing bulbs is easy for you, then the 25 watt bulbs are perfect.

I was curious though: your ceiling looks like it's made of concrete, or perhaps panels of something. It goes very well with the chandelier but I was wondering what it was made of.
katlinbr (author)  kathynv2 years ago
Kathy: Thank you for your comments. I thought about going with LCDs as well but ultimately decided to go with the standard clear bulbs, as I do my art work on the table and prefer the standard light glow. I too am short and have the jars hanging 3' from the box so that I can reach them standing on a chair. Yes, the ceiling is solid concrete. I used a hammer-drill with a diamond tip to mount the box.
That is really cute, very wonderful first instructable congratulations.
katlinbr (author)  sofiadragon19792 years ago
Many thanks Sofia.