8.04.2011

{create} capiz pendant, how-to

Thank you for all the super sweet comments over the last couple days about my capiz shell pendant! It really is a lovely addition to our little eating nook.


As promised, today I'm back with an insanely detailed how-to for creating your own capiz shell pendant chandelier. This project is not hard, at all, but it is fairly time consuming. I learned a couple tricks along the way, so hopefully they'll make your process go a bit faster!


Start by prepping your lampshade, which serves as the structure of the pendant. I bought a pretty nasty shade at Goodwill for $2.99. Take all the fabric off, and then add a third tier. This didn't show up in any of the photos, but basically, you want to horizontally install a wire half way between the top and bottom. I simply wrapped my around each of the vertical strips to secure as I went around. Once that's all put together, coat the entire frame in white spray paint. This might be being overly cautious, but the *capiz shells* are pretty see-through and I didn't want the frame seen at all.

Next make your capiz shells. Friends, grab your favorite movies, turn on your favorite music and (I personally recommend) grab a huge glass of wine. This is where things get a little time consuming. To make your the circles, simply lay a sheet of parchment paper on your ironing board (or on a towel on any other flat surface), lay three sheets of wax paper, and then lay another sheet of parchment on top. Turn your iron to medium heat and simply iron the wax paper together. It doesn't take long for the layers to melt and adhere to each other, but make sure you get the sides/corners really good. The trick here is that you can actually do more than one *set* of these at once. I was ironing three of these sets at once. The heat actually penetrates all the layers perfectly fine, and makes this part of the process go much, much quicker. Ironed, the sheets will look like the photo in the upper right. At first I was annoyed about any perfections the ironing caused, but then I realized these imperfections give the shells a lot of character. Love that!

For punching out the circles, I purchased a 2-inch hole punch at Michael's. It worked like a dream. I found the easiest, and fastest, way to punch holes was the fold the paper, the hot dog way, into fourths, and then punch along that line. 

Now how you approach the project from here is up to you and your style of working. Some people might want to punch out all the shells before they begin sewing them together. I thought that sounded completely monotonous, so I punched some and then sewed those together, punched more, sewed more, etc. 

Regardless of your process, once you punch out the circles, sew them together using a chain stitch: simply thread the circles through the machine one after the other so their is no space in between. I tried this using white thread and clear thread. You could see the clear thread just as much as the white thread, so it's definitely not worth using clear (it's so hard to work with!).

A successful chain stitch will look this this, above. I chose to do 22 circles for each strand.

After you've sewn your strands, it's time to start putting the pendant together. Simply drape your strands of circles over each horizontal row on your frame. When each strand is draped, there will be 11 circles on each side of the frame. 

And, just to give you an idea of how many strands/circles my light needed ... I counted for you! I thought it'd be helpful because I had NO IDEA how many circles this would take. My frame is 14 inches at the top (widest opening). In total, I made 120 strands to get as few holes as possible and the fullness I was looking for. You guys, that is 2,640 circles! Remember that glass of wine I mentioned earlier? Yeah. :)

Is is worth it though? Yes. As I mentioned earlier, this is NOT hard. It's just time consuming. If you love this light, the cost alone is worth it. I ended up spending $26 for the entire pendant, and that includes the lamp shade and FOUR rolls of wax paper. Friends, the inspiration lamp at West Elm is $259.
To hang the finished pendant, Chris simply installed three small hooks in the ceiling around an existing light, and we hung the frame from the hooks. SUPER easy.


I hope this tutorial helps! If any thing is unclear, or you have questions, just let me know. Make sure you check out the tutorial on Freshly Picked for some other tips and tricks. And, if you end up making one, let me know! I'd love to see your version :).



24 comments:

  1. It really turned out fabulously - and that's a good tip about a) ironing them together to make more at once and b) having adult grape juice to keep you company. :)

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  2. Amaaaaazing Jenn. You rock! I really appreciate how full and huge you made the pendant. It looks so much like the real deal and you can't beat that price!! Way to go - I love it. :)

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  3. Once again... totally in awe.

    Also, I perused your home photos and literally gasped at the before/ afters. I adore your style and have added you to my blogroll so I can keep tabs. =)

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  4. WOW! This is awesome. I am definitely coming back to study this some more. Great job.

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  5. hope you don't mind friend - but i am totally going to do this. thanks for the tute.

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  6. Wow, I love this...great job and great tutorial!

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  7. Hi from France ! The result is somptuous, what a patience and talent ! Stéphanie

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  8. Outdated. Popular in 70's early 80's

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  9. Why would anyone say this is outdated or anything else unkind?... This is amazing! Thank you for the tutorial!

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  10. This capiz shell chandelier is absolutely fabulous. I have been looking for one for one of my daughters' rooms. Only problem is I do not own a sewing machine but I am pinning this anyway. New follower!

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  11. Does anyone have any ideas on how to add colour to this amazing creation? I love the capiz look, but would love a touch of soft colour as well....

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    1. Such a great question. After I finished, I wondered if I'd added a layer of tissue paper between the wax paper layers, if that would add a nice shade of color? Let me know if you find good way to add color!

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    2. I am actually doing this right now. How I added color to the pendents was using melted crayon by putting the shavings on the top wax layer before fuzing the wax paper. The tricky part about melting crayons to fabric or any other material (like wax paper) is that different crayon types have a variable amount of wax in them and the more wax = an oily washed out pigment. I prefer the look I get when shaving twistable crayons like Crayolas Twistable crayons in neon. You will have to mess with the shaving size to get the look you want, I like the speckled look better than full-on color. To shave the crayon: twist the crayon out nearly half way and insert into a pencil sharpener. You should be able to shave a decent amount off and the bigger the shaving the more area it is going to cover on the material when melted. Also: melting crayon only requires dry heat and the parchment paper will contain the crayon so that it won't get on your iron. My pendent has a rainbow speckled gradient and it looks really neat.
      Enjoy!

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    3. I LOVE this idea! Can you send me photos when you're done? I'd love to see how it turns out. Thanks for the explanation!

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  12. This is gorgeous! I'm scared of even trying a sewing machine though lol! Awesome touch:)

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  13. I'm smiling from ear to ear at the ingenious-ness (is that even a word) of this project! So fabulous, and at a fraction of the cost. I'm seriously impressed, and am excited to keep following your projects. Found you via West Pear Interiors. Thanks!

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  14. How did it miss this post?! Awesome! Only, I'd need a whole bottle to crank one out. :)

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  15. I made one of these for my daughter's bedroom when she moved into her condo. She gets so many compliments on it. I have to admit, to date, is is my "most proud of DIY project" completed. Jenn was right, this is not difficult. Note: you will not complete in one day, or with one glass of wine ;)
    Finding the right punch is what was the most difficult for me. Good luck, you will love your finished chandy! Thinking about making another one for my office...if I could figure out how to attach a pic I would.

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    1. That's such a great gift for your daughter's apartment! And yes, it's so easy and wine is a must :)

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  16. I guess my question disappeared > I am curious to know if the parchment is acting as a sort of pressing cloth or is it part of the "shell"?

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    1. Hi Brenda, The parchment acts as a pressing cloth - the iron would melt the wax paper if it came in direct contact. Great question!

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