Those wire plant baskets hitting the shelves at dollar stores offer some interesting options for lighting design. I decided to take a few of them for a spin and see what I could come up with. The first project is to make the most luxurious-looking LED chandelier with the cheapest possible materials.
- wire plant basket (Dollar Store)
- Mardi-Gras beads (Dollar Store or craft store/amazon -- if you are looking for specific colors)
- disposable plastic wine glasses (Dollar Store)
- aluminum floral wire (Dollar Store or a craft store if looking for specific color/shape)
- LED "candles" (Dollar Store)
- spray paint (optional, hardware store)
- glue gun/glue sticks (Dollar Store, optional) or fishing line or very thin wire
- Dremel or other rotary tool w/ cutting wheel
Step 1: Cut
Temporarily remove the chain -- it's clipped on, so this should be easy. Cut through every section of the larger "hoop" of the wire basket, right next to a supporting wire. I tried to do this with wire-cutters, but the wire the basket is made of is too tough for the cutters I had and I went with the dremel instead. There are 9 supporting wires in this basket model, and I wanted to use 6 candles, so I completely removed the hoop sections adjacent to three of the supporting wires, because they would be bent down and will not be holding candles. I made sure to spare the loops where the chain is supposed to attach to the basket.
Step 2: Bend
Use pliers to curve the wires into shape. I used the larger "hoop" sections attached to supporting wires to create small loops where candle cups will eventually go, and curled/bent down the three wires that won't hold candles. I shaped the other supporting wires into a more complex shape, reminiscent of what chandelier arms look like. Be careful of metal fatigue here -- the basket is made of tough wire and it's welded pretty solidly, but the metal can only take so many bends in the same place and will break -- I ended up having to reattach one of the three lower curls with some putty, and reinforcing the other three. If you have nylon-coated pliers, you may want to use those -- the basket is coated with a layer of protective plastic and you will mar/rip it with regular pliers (this is not a huge deal if you are going for shabby-chic look rather than something more polished though).
Step 3: Paint
This step is optional, you could stick with a black chandelier and coordinate your embellishments accordingly. I wanted a white one, so I spray painted the basket. It was surprisingly difficult to get all the wires from every angle, so it took a few coats of paint to get the job done.
Step 4: Embellish
You have many different options here, so go wild. I cut the stems off the plastic wine glasses to make the candle "cups", then drilled three small holes in the bottom of each to help attach them to the little hoops with some fishing line -- I figured it would give me a more secure hold than a glue gun, but a glue gun would have been faster and easier, and probably sufficient if the resulting chandelier doesn't need to stand up to much abuse. I twisted some flat floral wire and created another upper hoop, more for flash than for structural integrity. Then I attached the "crystal" Mardi-Gras beads with some thin aluminum wire (though in retrospect fishing line would probably have been just as good). The LED tea-lights finish the look.
Step 5: Enjoy
This chandelier makes great mood lighting for all kinds of occasions, from garden parties or glamping to a romantic dinner for two, and can be used indoors or out. If you didn't rip the plastic coating of the basket when shaping it and/or sealed it with paint and only used aluminum wire for embellishments, it should stand up to the elements without rusting, so it's safe to leave outside (however, the LED tealights might not be sealed well enough to be repeatedly rained on). If you didn't use plastic for the candle cups (wire petals or other embellishments could be used to hold the candles instead), you are also not limited to LED and could use real tea-lights.