Introduction: Octopus Chandelier
During a random internet search I ran across a chandelier shaped like an octopus made by Daniel Hopper Design https://danielhopper.com/portfolio/octopus-chandelier/ pictured above, each arm (yes they're arms not tentacles) held a light. I fell in love with the idea and decided that I needed to construct one of my own. While the original appeared to be made out of hammered copper I knew the size and materials would have to meet my availability and skillset requirements.
The supplies consist roughly of:
-4 gauge solid copper wire
-Fiberglass resin jelly
-18ga teflon aircraft wiring
-22ga teflon aircraft wiring
-Pendant lamp sockets (4)
Step 1: Creating the Form
I began with only a basic idea of what I wanted the completed chandelier to look like. I started by bending the copper until I felt like it had an organic flow and a size that looked good. Both of these parameters would be adjusted during the course of the build.
Step 2: Wiring Provision
Once the form is to your liking it's time to consider the wiring and number of lamps. Due to the overall size (about 2 feet in diameter) I decided 4 lamps would provide a more balanced appearance than 7 as one would be used to hold the power cord for stabilization and aesthetic. The easy way to run the wiring would simply be to wrap the wiring with the twine but I wanted a provision to replace the wire in case of damage etc. I decided on automotive brake tubing as it is flexible and inexpensive but also durable. So I bent each piece of tubing to match it's corresponding leg and aimed them all to coalesce inside the head/mantle. some care will need to be taken to debur the tubing to protect the wiring insulation. I used tubing on every arm, not just the four that would hold lights. It helped to give the arms a slightly more ovular shape. 22 gauge teflon coated aircraft wiring runs into the head where all 4 are tied together and joined via wire nuts to 18 gauge teflon aircraft wiring. I drilled a hole through the frame where I wanted the balance point and threaded in a screw, cut off the head afterwards and used a piece of 3/16" stainless lanyard double swaged to support the weight of the chandelier. As you can see in the picture the lanyard and 18 gauge wiring run through a cut off ballpoint pen body to protect the insulation and keep the hole open for future rewiring needs.
Step 3: Wrapping the Frame
The next step is to take twine and wrap the arms until the desired thickness is reached, the twine is much easier and faster to build up a solid base than doing so later with a filler. The reason I chose twine was because it absorbs the polyester resin to add strength and rigidity to the frame. When I reached the point of cutting a piece of twine I affixed it with a drop of super glue. Continue until you are pleased with the result, Octopuses come in many shapes and sizes. At this point, using the 22ga teflon coated aircraft wiring (available on eBay) I ran 2 strands through each arm that would hold a light.
Step 4: Adding the Resin
The next step is to add the resin once you are sure no more tweaking of the shape is required. I used a 99 cent throw away paint brush and squeezed in about as much resin as the twine would hold. You'll have to work quickly depending on how much hardener you add to the resin and the temperature in your work area.
Step 5: Shaping With Resin Jelly
After the resin dries You want to knock down any strings with a razor and/or a heavy grit sandpaper. The next step is the most time consuming. Resin jelly is not terribly easy to work with but it is incredibly durable. You could opt for a plaster or other material that would trade some strength for workability. Due to the working time of the resin jelly I applied it to one arm at a time, dozens of coats with sanding in between were required to achieve the desired appearance. The resin jelly can be shaved off initially with a cheese grater or 40 grit sandpaper during the drying process, once cured I opted for 80- grit and worked my way down to around 220. I used my daughter's Play Doh to shape the eyes, the resin jelly provides the strength once you cover it. Summing up this process in a step/paragraph is a bit difficult as I spent a couple of months on this step working a few hours per night.
Step 6: Finish Sanding and Sculpting
After you are satisfied with the resin jelly results it's time to move on to some finer details. I used Bondo glazing putty (available from most automotive parts stores) and Durhams Rock Hard putty (hardware store). These fillers are much easier to work with and sand, now is the time for fine details and covering up of sanding marks for the final finish.
Step 7: Suckers
One of the most difficult parts of build was deciding on the suckers, after much deliberation I settled on 4 different sizes of vinyl tubing sourced from fishing lure makers on eBay. I scalloped them into lengths of 1/16" or so and glued them on individually with a good Hobbytown Cyanoacrylate (super glue). Placing each with tweezers and a dental scraper was incredibly time consuming, they get larger in size toward the mantle and then shrink back down as they get closer to the beak.
Step 8: Priming
After double checking that no more sanding is required, and a good cleaning to remove dust, tape off all wiring and it's time for a primer. Although any combination of paints could be used, I opted for Createx airbrush paints. I started with a primer/ sealer. After each coat I did more sanding until I was content with the smoothness. The Createx paints can be top coated any time and are wonderful to work with.
Step 9: Color
I opted for a basecoat of metallic bronze, I love the way it comes to life in the light. 2-3 light coats to start.
Step 10: Shadowing
I used a pearlized black and white to slowly mix darker and lighter shades of the bronze to produce a shadowing effect. I made the underside more of a pearl white while the top got a lot of depth.
Step 11: Clearcoat
After starting over from scratch more than once until I was pleased with the shadowing it was time for a UV stabilizing matte clearcoat.
Step 12: Lights
The beauty of a project like this is that your imagination is the only limit. I found some pendant light sockets that I liked, coupled them with 4 watt dimmable LED Edison style bulbs and covered the wiring with a mixture of heatshrink tubing and nylon wire sheathing. I really like the way it turned out, it's sure to be a conversation piece any time I have company. I look forward to hearing your comments and seeing your creations! If you have any questions about your own build I'd be happy to help!
*The 22/18GA wiring combination is not sufficient to run incandescent bulbs, it was intended only for low wattage LEDs
*The entire frame of the chandelier acts as a ground and the circuit it's added to should be AFCI/GFCI in case of damage to the wiring and to reduce the possibility of fire.
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