Before & After: A Brighter Solution
Here’s the story of an estate sale votive chandelier that went from Brady to bricolage … and was much better for it. Bricolage is French for a creation made from whatever materials are available, and this project is definitely that. When I first bought the chandelier I thought it was … cute, but could be more. So, after considering all the options I settled on … planter (I know, sur-priiise!). Anyway, I really liked the idea of replacing the 8 candles with 8 planted vessels; but what to use? I bought a few things, including glass electrical wire insulator-things (like these), but they were too heavy for the job and I couldn’t figure out a way to attach them. Finally, a search through bags of stuff I’d bought (but never unpacked) yielded the solution: A collection of 9 ceramic crucible cups bought months before at The Antique Galleria downtown. Not only did they have a cool distressed surface but they were small, lightweight and I had enough of them. In the end they worked out perfectly and the re-worked chandelier is much more practical than an easy-t0-blow-out votive fixture. Here, filled with succulents and cacti, it presides over a rustic scene that includes a volcanic rock planter, a naive shapely/rough sculpture we bought at a garage sale up the street and a plaster-coated sunflower chair.
Ready for the ‘BEFORE’ picture? …
Here’s the votive chandelier as I bought it; very Brady, right? Especially with those little knobby amber glass cups … Also in the photo: The raw crucible cups I used as vessels, succulents, and the paint I used to change the chandelier’s look. Note the aluminum tape at left: I originally intended to attach the cups to the chandelier’s arms with it but it was completely ineffective. Happily, the bricolage concept again comes into play and something I already had saved the project. More on that later.
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The first task was painting the black metal arms to better merge with the crucible cups. Studying them, I realized they’re a messy mix of speckles and splashes (including red, brown, gray and green), but basically an off-white almond color. I made a trip to the hardware store and bought a can of each of those colors in a rust-resistant spray paint and got to work. First I sprayed the entire piece with almond and once dried I randomly spattered it with dark brown … followed by more spatters of red, gray and green and brown. Finally, I selectively sprayed the entire thing with almond again, toning down the darker splashes until it resembled the crucible cups. Done, dry.
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After trying to use the aluminum tape to attach the cups to the chandelier’s frame, I gave up and decided to try something new. My new solution involved drilling a hole into each cup large enough to fit over the end of an arm. This was easily accomplished with an electric drill, a masonry bit and a criss-cross of masking tape (the tape keeps the cup from cracking while being drilled). All holes drilled, it was now time for the-perfect-solution-I-didn’t-know-I-had …
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… the little plastic attachments that originally held the knobby glass votives onto the chandelier’s arms! All I had to do now was push a tip down through each cup, pour in a bit of quick-dry plaster in to hold it in place and voila! Each cup now slipped snugly onto the end of each metal arm.
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The painted chandelier now looked perfect outfitted with the rustic-painted cups … almost like they were always meant to look this way all along!
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The planter/chandelier looks so much more fashionable now and would look great in a number of settings. As my friend Britney pointed out it would even look terrific sitting on a table as a centerpiece; where it ultimately ends up is yet to be decided. I’m glad I didn’t give up on finishing this piece, even though it gave me fits and took forever (the reason why there was such a long stretch between posts). Another bright idea? I’m going to unpack my shopping bags as soon as I get home …