Introduction: Tea Light for Two -- Make Your Own Pendant Light From a Tea Set

I am a tea geek and I wanted something in my kitchen to reflect that.  What would be better than a tea set hanging from the ceiling?! This light never fails to get a comment from people who see it for the first time and at $250 it was much cheaper than a unique light from the local lighting store.

Step 1: Parts and Supplies

These are the parts I used in my light.
Part Description Qty URL Price
Teapot I bought my teapot and cups on Amazon.  I would have preferred to buy a used tea set but all the ones that I considered were stained or had scratches.  If you decide to use a used tea set you might consider frosting the glass. 1Amazon $20
Tea cups See teapot discussion above. 2Amazon $13
Practice glassware Drilling holes in glass isn't hard but it's a good idea to practice.  Buy a couple of cheap glass plates and cups at your local thrift store.  I got mine for 50 cents each. ? $2
1-1/8" glass drill bit There are cheap drill bits on Ebay for $5 but I decided that cheap bits will result in cheap results so I went with the 1-1/8" bit linked right, part DT-521.  It worked with no complaints plus the company called me on the phone when I had questions. 1Drill & Tool co. $32
Sugar & Creamer Got these on Ebay.  The have a silver lining around the rim which sparkles with reflected light. 1 each $27
Tea tray/plate Got this on Etsy.  An aluminum plate is easier to deal with--it's lighter than steel and you don't need hardened bits to drill holes. Silver trays will work but they will tarnish over time. 1 $34
Light sockets I used full thread, black candelabra sockets.  Part G03-3200/E12/U(N) on the page linked to the right. $24.40
Socket rings 2 per socket.  Part  K02-33000. $7.40
Cord grips Two for each light--one for the socket and one to fasten the cord to the plate.  Part D02-D2595. $18.60
Brass half-ball This is used to attach the plate to the ceiling.  I bought a brass one and painted it silver.  Part D02-B882. $5.35
Lamp cord 18/2 SVT.  I bought 50 feet because that was the smallest order I could get; very few sites sell 18/2 cord.  18/3 SVT is easier to find but it's got a slightly larger diameter (it has three conductors instead of two) and I wanted the cord to be as thin as possible. 50' $25
Adhesive putty Used to build a dam when drilling holes in glass. 1 Craft stores $5
Foam board Used to design the layout of the light.  Get one that's bigger than the plate you intend to use.  Thick cardboard will work as well 1 Craft stores $5
Push-in connectors I used 4 4-port connectors because that's what I had but 2 6-port connectors would work better. 2Platt
Home Depot
Acrylic sheet Used to create a collar for the tea pot.  I used quarter-inch acrylic but you can use thinner sheets. 1Amazon $10
Spoons Simple small metal spoons for accent and to help balance the cups. 2 Local home store $2
Glue For gluing the spoons.  Use something that can withstand the heat. 1Amazon $7
Corks Used as stand-offs to hold the plate a few inches from the ceiling 3 Local hardware $2
Double-sided tape For attaching the corks to the plate. 1 Local drugstore $5
Zip-ties Optional: for bundling the cord together 1 $1
Light bulbs Half-chromed bulbs work very well for this light.  Don't use anything over 40 watt bulbs; 25 watt bulbs are recommended. 5Amazon $20


In addition you'll need to following tools:
  • Drill press - it will be difficult to drill accurate holes without a drill press.
  • Drill bits for metal - these bits need to cut through your plate.  If the plate is aluminum then regular hardened bits from Home Depot like these will work fine.  Oil for lubrication wouldn't hurt.
  • Plastic tub to be used while drilling the glass.
  • Wire cutters and strippers
  • Small screwdrivers
  • X-acto knife - For cutting up the cardboard and stripping wires.
  • Hole saws - for drilling a ring out of acrylic.
  • Tape - I use lots of masking and duct tape for modeling and holding things in place.

Step 2: Drill Holes in the Glass

The most difficult part of building the lamp is drilling the holes.  You need a special diamond-encrusted bit (very manly!).  One of the biggest concerns is keeping the bit cool as you drill the hole and the best way to do this is to drill the glass under water and to set your drill for a slow speed.  You can find more details here.

Get some cheap plates and cups to practice drilling.  This lets you get a feel for how fast or slow you need to drill the holes.  The teapot I bought came with a glass tea basket and I was able to practice on that as well.  This was helpful because the glass was very thin and I broke the basket.  I went very slow on the teapot.

Some additional tips/points:
  • Wear eye protection!  I'm told that glass shards embedded in your cornea is no fun.
  • Use the putty to hold the cups in place so they don't move while drilling.  I laid wooden skewers under the cups to keep them from being pressed further into the putty.  See the pictures.
  • If the glass is thick you can press pretty hard with the drill.  The sugar and creamer were almost an inch thick at the bottom and I cut through them in about 10 minutes.  It took me almost 30 minutes to drill the thin teapot and I was sweating the hole (hah!) time.
  • If your teapot is like mine then the handle, which is solid, is heavier than the spout.  This means that if you drill a hole in the center of the teapot it will not hang level.  You could drill the hole closer to the handle for better balance but then the light bulb won't be in the center of the pot.  I considered adding some weight to the spout but in the end the tilt is hardly noticeable when the teapot is hanging from the ceiling.
  • Some of the edges of the holes can be sharp.  I wore thick rubber grilling gloves for protection.

Step 3: Assemble the Light Sockets

The pictures pretty much tell the story.  Pay attention to how you wire the sockets--always wire the colored wires to the sockets in the same way so you can properly connect the hot and neutral power wires.

Step 4: Prepare the Layout of the Plate

Before you cut holes in your plate you want to determine how to lay out the wires.  Draw a circle on the foam board, find the center, and then drill the holes.  I laid out the board between two chairs to make it easier.

Once you have the layout finished, cut out the circle and use it as a mask over the plate to position the holes.  When you cut the circle make it a few inches smaller than the plate (see the pictures).  This allows you to use the foam board again for wiring.

If your plate is aluminum then drilling the holes is fairly easy.  Use hardened bits and a little oil for lubrication. 

Step 5: Add the Wires to the Plate

Tape the plate to the top of the foam board and reattach the cord to the plate with the cord grips.  Trim the cords, strip the ends of the wire, and connect them using the push-in connectors.

Step 6: Cut Plastic Disk for Tea Pot

This step may not be necessary.  I was concerned about the thin glass of the teapot breaking so I made a collar out of a sheet of acrylic.  I used two different sized hole saws and cut the smaller hole first.  The result was an easy ring.

Step 7: Glue Spoons to Saucers

The spoons add a nice touch but they have another purpose--to balance the saucers so they hang level.  When you hang the light the spoons should be positioned opposite the tea cup handle.  I used the magnets to hold the spoon in place while the glue dried.  Whatever glue you use make sure it can handle the high heat produced by the light bulbs.

Step 8: Put It Up!

Remove the glass from the sockets to make it easier to put up.  Use the three corks as stand-offs to hold the plate level against the ceiling.   Attach the corks using the the double-sided tape.  The nipple from the junction box passes through the hole in the middle of the plate and the half ball is screwed on to hold the plate against the ceiling.

There are lots of tutorials for installing/wiring a ceiling light like this one.  If you are not sure what you are doing then hire an electrician to install it for you. 

NOTE: U.S. building codes require a ceiling light to be grounded twice and this Instructable creates a light with only one ground (through the brass half ball).  My electrician installed a second ground for me.

Once the plate is installed you can attach the cups and teapot.  Put one ring above and below each glass piece.

Comments about the light bulbs

It's very important not to use high-wattage bulbs.  The sockets are rated for 75 watts but since there are no vents in the cups/pots the hot air is trapped around the bulb and you should use lower watt bulbs.  I used 40w and 25w bulbs.

I strongly recommend the half-chrome bulbs.  You can look directly at the light without being blinded and it directs most of the light to be bounced off the ceiling.  This creates a neat effect where there aren't many shadows.

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