I'll show you how to create a chandelier where each light bulb is a hanging beer bottle with a mini-neon inside (CCFL). You need really basic stuff to build it!
Bill of material:
- Beer bottles, or other bottles like whisky, wine...
- Proper caps for the bottles
- Light source, like CCFL lamp or LED
- Steel wire or a cord not thicker than 2mm
- Screw connectors for electronics or screws and nuts for steel cables
- Hot glue
- Nail of diameter of the hanging wire
- If your bottles have crown caps you need a capping machine or something to
close the caps!
Step 1: Hanging the Bottles
This is the keystone of the entire project! You need a nice and really secure way to hang the bottles... you don't want to wake up in the night with the bottles smashing on the ground!!!! Or worse you don't want a bottle to fall onto your head!!! Damn, I'm so pessimist!! :)
Here my solution, is very clean, easy and (I hope) secure.
1) Make a hole in the center of the cap using the nail. Don't make the hole on the side of the cap, otherwise the bottle will not hang straight
2) Let the cord go through the hole and secure on the back side of the cap with a knot. If, like me, you are using a steel cable making a knot is really difficult and not so secure, as may loosen: I suggest to use a screw-nut system, or even screw terminals for electronics (my choice, pure DIY approach :) to be more secure.
NOTE The screw terminal is very secure, but I'm using a steel wire coated in plastic and if I pull the terminal VERY strongly the plastic goes away anyway it can support the weight of a bottle and much more without any problem...but you know...to be safer make also a knot after the screw!!
3) Now you're ready to cap the bottle...if you're using screw bottles you're done! If like me you chose classical crown cap bottles, you need a capping machine, or if you don't have one just use a hammer, a metal tie for pipes or some tongs and maybe some kind of very strong glue!!
NOTE: Using the capping machine you need a trick...When you put the bottle under the pressing tool, it wouldn't work as the wire going out of the bottle obstructs it, so simply wind most of it inside the bottle, leaving only 3-4cm out. You should be fine now! If not,
your machine should let the pressing bell to be removed: do that and take out the magnet which lies in the core of the bell, now simply remount the bell and you have a hole in the bell and enough room for the piece of wire out of the bottle!
Step 2: Lighting System
Now you need a hole for the lighting system. Make another hole in the cap, trying not to ruin the central one! Consider that a beer bottle cap is 26 mm in diameter, about 3 mm are already taken for the hanging wire, the glass neck is 4 mm thick, then you're left with about 6 mm per side, so even 5 mm for a LED is hazardous! If you want to use a 5 mm LED, it's better if you put it fully inside the bottle and then let only the terminals to go out.
I made the hole with the nail and then i enlarged it with a screwdriver. Now put your light bulb and secure it with some hot glue. Then solder the supply wires or whatever.
I used some old CCFL lamps from a pc modding project. They are almost 9cm in length and 3mm in diameter and work at 12V DC (the inverted does!). Also a high luminosity LED would work...and sure would make more light than the tiny CCFL lamps :).
Don't worry about space for the electronics, you'll put everything on the base of the lamp!
NOTE You can decide to supply the LEDs with the steel cable used for hanging (you need two conductors obviously!) or simply use the supply cable as hanging cable! I didn't do that because the CCFL cable was very weak for haning and replacing it with the steel cable, yielded some problem during the start up of the lights: the longer the cable the weaker the lamp and also if they're not properly isolated, the lamps can't start...but this is a problem only for discharge lamp and any lamp not directly working in DC.
Step 3: Chandelier Structure
Here comes the magic...here you can taste the real DIY spirit, do everything with anything spending nothing! And you feel really fine after! Well to be honest I'm also too much lazy to go out and find something proper for the project :D
OK serious business now! You need a frame, a structure from where the bottles will be hanged, you may simply use an old classic chandelier, you may build a new one in wood or 3d-print a plastic one or whatever...or like me you may use a racket...yes a racket...it was there browsing in my room and i simply picked it up!
I needed a chandelier fixed to the wall and not hanging from the ceiling...if you shore the grip of the racket onto the wall then you can hang the bottles from the string of the racket!!! Great object the rackets!!! They seem to be made on purpose!
Now just to complicate the situation...I live in a student house where you cannot make holes in the wall neither to hang a poster...imagine holes for the screws to hang a racket...ok ...no! So again the survivor spirit came to the aid.
I saw the phone fixed on the wall, so i unmounted it and i found two screws in the wall!! That should be the place, I said! So phone out and racket in!!!
I made a ties system (really unstable on the sides movements, though) to lock the racket. I tested it with 3kg and it was ok...consider that the bottles and the electronics is slightly more that 1kg (200g per bottle).
To hang the bottles on the racket I used two systems:
- Rough one: knot the hanging wires around the racket's strings or if you're using the steel cable make a knot and use something like a cap with a hole or something bigger than the strings spacing
- Pro way: Simply pass the wire from the bottom of the racket upwards, then make a 'U' turn around the strings and go back downwards, now screw it as you did for the bottle
For 'fashion' purpose, i removed the plastic casing of the screw terminals.
Step 4: Light It Up!
The final effect is really nice! I chose dark brown bottles to obtain a warmer effect.. the lamp is not much luminous, but its perfect if you lie in the bed reading a book or watching a movie! Anyway i'm planning to add some LEDs to boost up the luminosity.
What is left is to cover the wire mess on the racket!
Step 5: Finishing
Ok now some nice finishing! Or better... let's cover the mess!
I used a paper mache bowl on the top of the racket and a cardboard tube (from aluminium foil) to cover the grip and cables.
Obviously you can use whatever is laying around in your home like a plastic/wooden bowl or you can even 3d-print some exotic stuff.
For the paper mache I used a mixture of vinylic glue and water, some newspaper sheets (actually I used paper towels, Scottex) and a balloon as shape...try to find a big balloon, I bought a couple of them and both were too small, here you need the diameter of the fully blown balloon to be equal or greater than the racket's.
Make a mixture of water and glue at about 50% each or enough to let the broth be whitish: more the glue, stronger the result, but don't exaggerate! Now cut the paper in pieces and soak them in the mixture, when they are totally impregnated (after less than a minute) take them out and squeeze them enough for not dripping: more wet, longer the drying time, but if too much dry, they wouldn't stick to the balloon!
Now cover the balloon with at least 3 layers of paper mache then let it dry. If you want to add more, add 2-3 layers at a time and let them dry then iterate. You should cover the balloon from its top, fixing the valve on a base. It's better to cover more than a half of it, then you'll cut it and you'll have a nice half sphere!
Once the material gets solid you can fun smashing the balloon with the most exotic weapon you have!!! And here it is a paper bowl! If you're lucky and precise the bowl will fit on the racket, then cut the excess and you're done! Mine was too tight, so I made a cut from the center of the bowl to the border to enlarge it a little bit and it works!
About the racket grip, I cut the pipe on its length and I wrapped it around the handle.
The paper mache should be covered with some nice design paper or painted...but for sure now it is better than the messy cables!