Well Hung: Makeshift Chandeliers for the Sassy, if not Classy

So, the hunt has begun for my very own big-people-apartment.  After 7 years of shared bathrooms, divvied-up cupboards, and roommates, I’ve begun looking for my very own place.  I’m not complaining—personally, I think I rather lucked out on the roommate front. But, I need a real home, a place where I can cook naked and let my fuzz-beast run around like the wild-sock murderer he is. Without a properly ferret-proofed home he must be confined to my bedroom.  Look at him, he longs for the freedom that comes with chewing up the inside of boots or sleeping inside a couch:

"Let me be free!"

So, I made a list of things that I’m going to have to buy for the new pad:  couch, microwave, end tables, lamps, toaster, table and chairs, etc.  As you can see, getting settled can cost a pretty penny, so I’m going to have to use some serious restraint when it comes to purchasing the decorative frivolities that I love so very much.    So far, it hasn’t been going well.  I got some cupcake sugar bowls yesterday (although, to be fair, they were a present from my boyfriend who I have dubbed with the very manly moniker of “Panda”), a new duvet cover, some curtains, some embroidered towels– the bill is starting to run a little high for things that serve no practical purpose.  One thing, however, that I really wanted, was one of those cute decorative chandeliers to hang over my bed.  I tried a little online shopping and found that they are, for the most part, super expensive.  I cannot justify shelling out $100 dollars on a mini chandelier that gives off no light and is purely decorative—I did find one however that was the size and shape of a pinecone for $59.99+ $30.00 for shipping.  What a steal! :S

I got on the crafting-pony and rode all over the interwebz looking for help and came across this site. I love that someone took the initiative to put one of these puppies together.  It was super cute and just what I was looking for, but when I ventured out to collect supplies I found that there was not a wire hanging basket, nor mardi gras bead in town.  All I could find was faux pearl necklaces and for 10 dollars a pop I might as well have sprung for a fully functional, crystal fixture.

I was ready to give up on my treasure hunt but I remembered that in a pinch crafty bitches pinch back.  I figured I’d go balls to the wall and try my hand at making one from the ground up, and while it was a lot more time consuming, I’m sure, than using pre-strung beads, I got more of a say over how I wanted it to look.  I figured I’d share with y’all 🙂

Step 1:  Collect Supplies

  • Fishing Line- I found in a drawer
  • Beads-  $3 (on sale) for a pack of 550 at Michaels, I bought three packs
  • 2 Soda Cans- liberated from Panda’s bag of recycling
  • Crafting wire- I had on hand
  • Ribbon- $1 for a spool at the Dollar Store
  • An old necklace- I used the pendant as my dangly-bit and the chain to hang my chandelier, if you don’t have a necklace like this, you can get chain at hardware stores and find a perfect finishing-piece at most crafting stores.

    Legos are Optional

Step 2: Take your Tops off
You want to cut the tops off your soda cans—this is the easy part, just be careful you don’t cut your little fingies, my gems.  Next you want to cut the centre bits out of the soda can tops- one should have a quarter sized hole in the middle of it so there’s enough flat surface to hold a small, battery powered tea-light, and one top should have the entire middle taken out leaving just the rim.   I will from this point forward refer to these as Hole-Top and Rim-Top (creativity at its finest). The cutting can be a little bit tricky, but for the record I found that diet Coke cans have the thinnest metal.

Step 3: Create a Wreath
Loop the wire around a salad bowl to keep it round.

Step 4:  Create a Skeleton
Attach four pieces of wire to Rim-Top and the wire wreath.  This will give you some support as you start to add your beads.

Step 5: Start Beading
 Tie one side of a piece of fishing line to Rim-Top, bead the line, and tie the other end to the wreath.  And I cannot stress this enough: Double knot everything.  Do about 20 bead-strings to start off with.  Make sure that they all have the same amounts of beads, otherwise you’ll have a wonky, lop-sided chandelier.  I used about 22 on each string, but it depends on what sized beads you have.

Step 6: Make a Wire Crossbar
Make sure that it’s tight enough across the Rim-Top that it won’t move around.  This will be what you hang your masterpiece from and it’s got to be sturdy.  I attached the chain from an old necklace then tied the whole thing to an open dresser drawer handle so I can work on it while it was hanging.

Step 7:  Add Your Pick-Up.
You’ll need to tie fishing line from Rim-Top to Hole-Top, letting Hole-Top hang a couple inches below the wire wreath.

Step 8: Cut Those Wires
Once you’ve got about 20 bead-strings attached, it’s time to cut your skeleton wires on the inside.  When these are gone your whole chandelier will be supported by nothing but bead strings and you’ll find it looks more even.

Step 8:  Bead Until you Think you’re Face is Going to Melt Off
In the same way you’ve been beading the top, add bead-strings to the bottom part of your chandelier.   Take a piece of fishing line, tie it to Hole-Top so it leaves two long ends.  Bead these with about half as many beads as you did for your top half of your chandelier, then tie it to your wire wreath.  Repeat.  Continue with adding bead-strings to the top part of your chandelier, as well, until you think it looks full enough.  This is the part where you turn on Pretty Little Liars and fantasize about Ezra Fitz reciting Yeats to you before he ravishes you for hours upon hours.  (Side-Note:  Sorry, Panda!)
 Step 9: Your Dangly-Bit
Once you’re done beading, tie a piece of fishing line to the centre of your crossbar on the top of your chandelier and let it hang down through the middle of the entire structure.  Add something that gives the whole thing an extra bit of sparkle—I used a pendant.

Step 10: Add your Bits and Bobs
Glue some ribbon around the wire wreath to cover up all the bits of sticky-out fishing line.  I added a bow on top of my chandelier which is completely optional.

Step 11: C’est Fini
Be amazed at creating a piece of unadulterated beauty for under 20 bucks, then sit back and revel in your ingenuity and overall fabulousness.


Cheap and Easy (Dresses, not the Bridesmaids)

So, my friend Katie got engaged a while ago on a beach in the Dominican.  I always assumed her wedding would go somewhat the same– on a beach on some tropical island, on a boat off the coast of no-where, by Elvis in the Chapel of Love under the bright lights of Vegas.   However, once it was apparent her family, future family, and probably future husband weren’t too kean on any elopement theories they set their destination in a little place called Cow Head.  I know, I know.  However, you’ll be surprised to find that Cow Head is actually a beautiful little place. 

Now, here’s the catch.  Try having a full and lavish wedding with an elopement wedding timeframe.  Katie had about three months to plan and execute a dazzling display of love, devotion, commitment and all that other traditional foolishness.  Understandably, brides who have months of planning and wedding planners at their disposal often end up in a tearful heap on the bathroom floor more than once.  To me the term “Bride-zilla” is synonymous with “Just-trying-to-freaking-cope”.  Granted, many matrimonial monsters are created out of the “me-me-me” attitude that has an overwhelming fear that everything won’t be perfect for “MY special day”.  However, I suspect that many wives-to-be, my best friend Katie included, are afraid that their guests won’t have a good time, or that, they’ll have 50 years with the memory of a streamer and tissue paper nightmare of a decorating job.   So, when Katie asked us all to pick out our own bridesmaids dresses, she was being a real peach of a bride.  However, finding brown dresses to fit our four different body types and preferences was easier said than done.  A week before the wedding Katie became the oh-so-gracious-one again and actually friggin changed everything around to accommodate us and what was available. We picked up some pretty purple dresses, but it got me to thinking that wedding attire in a pinch can be a real sticky sitch.  Therefore, I have preplanned my bridesmaid’s dresses (for my imaginary  wedding, of course).  They’re a little bit granola, but they’re also inexpensive, hassle-free, and unlike every other bridesmaid’s dress in the universe, you can actually where them again (minus the sash).

Step One:
Buy a white cotton dress.  These are easy to find and extremely inexpensive.  I bought this one at Winners for 15 bucks.  As well, while they may have a slightly different cut, most knee length white cotton dresses have the same look to them.  So finding a number of them in an array of shapes and sizes is no problem-o.

Step Two:

Wash said white cotton dress.  For the dying to work it needs to be clean and free of any dusty-bits that may be there from sitting on the rack.

Step Three:

 Read instructions carefully (This may require taping them back together if you’re a savage at opening things like me).

Step Four:
Follow instructions and commence the dying sequence.  Just a couple side notes, if your instructions say add salt, add lots of freaking salt.  The last time I went a-dying I skimped a little and ended up with what I call my Jackson Pollock dress.  Also, when the instructions say “Not for tub dying”, they are not kidding (see picture below for proof).  Use a plastic bucket or something you can give the old heave-ho to after you’re done. 

Step Four:

Once you’ve soaked your dress until it’s good and covered, let it sit for a little bit.  The colour it is when it’s washed and finished will be muuuuch lighter than right now.  So, wash it, let it dry and if it’s not the colour you’re looking for, give it another go. 

Step Five:

Ad any pretty little embellishments you would like to make your dress look fancy.  I bought this giant spool of ribbon at Michaels (or as I like to call it, Church of the Crafty), for 14 dollars.  It has enough ribbon on it to make about 6 sashes. 

Step Six:

Get all gussied up.  Not too shabby for a dress that costs about 20 dollars.