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The glass pendant light I wanted for the kitchen was sold out months ago, so I had no choice but to create a DIY option… and saved myself about $100!

When I last updated you guys about my breakfast nook in my remodeled kitchen, I had a plan in mind for what I wanted it to look like. But as design projects sometimes go, the things we once loved for the space no longer suit the room. That was the case with this light fixture:

old light fixture in breakfast nook

After all the trouble to get it installed, I hated the way it looked. I didn’t like the light it gave off, and I instantly regretted the time I wasted struggling to make it hang correctly over the dining table (spoiler: it was never gonna happen). So, like any disappointed DIYer, I began searching for new options. I covered them back in my breakfast nook update, but it was almost as if I had too many choices rather than too few. And since I’d already gotten it wrong once before, I was hesitant to pull the trigger until I was sure it was the one.

THE ONE.
THE ONE.

Have you ever heard angels singing when you see the perfect thing? It’s happened only occasionally when I go shopping for this house (lots of trial and error), but when it came to this light fixture, I instantly swooned. The silvery stainless steel-ish finish wasn’t exactly the right choice for the kitchen with all of the black accents it has, but that was pretty much the only thing about it I didn’t think would gel with the room. In short, it was gorgeous. I was totally convinced that this was what I wanted and had my credit card at the ready. There was just one little problem… the light was sold OUT!

dot and bo clear as day ceiling pendant

I waited a few months to see if it would come back on sale (with online shops, there is sometimes an option to sign up for alerts if something comes available again), but nope. If I wanted this light, I’d have to figure out a way to make it myself.

Aaaand that’s when the stars aligned and Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl decided to do a #DIYLightingChallenge. I was originally planning on posting it Monday with everyone else, but as usual, I had to run all over town to find the items I needed only to wind up lucking out in the 11th hour. It was too late to get things up in time for the blog hop, but in the end, I still got my new light fixture out of the deal. And? Saved myself some cash! Worth it!

diy glass pendant light

As often happens on this blog, there’s pretty much a story with every project (if you just want to skip to the actual tutorial, scroll down until you see the dashed line like the one directly below). Let’s start with the hardest part to track down…

——————————————–

The Glass Bowl Saga

Finding a glass bowl that would suit this light should be easy, right? That’s what I thought. I tried to think of what types of objects where I might find clear or seeded glass, the right size and shape, etc. I came up with three possible options:

  • a glass mixing bowl (or fruit bowl)
  • a fish bowl (granted, a modernish style rather than the usual round one)
  • converting a “boob light” (those hideous boob-like ceiling light fixtures that have nipples finials on the bottom… after reading one blogger call them a boob light ages ago, I can’t not see them that way!)

In theory, the boob light option would be easiest if I could find one. They are usually really cheap, already have a hole in them for the finial (which I could use as the spot I’d put the light kit through for hanging), and already made to work as a light. But the problem there is that nearly all of them are textured or frosted, and I wanted clear. I searched a few places, but no success.

The fishbowl idea didn’t pan out either, and so I was left searching for a glass mixing bowl, salad bowl, serving bowl, etc. The main issue I ran into here was just that most mixing bowls have a lip on the edge to make them easier to handle (like this one). I wanted something with a clean edge. I found a few modern salad bowl options at World Market, but they weren’t the rounded shape I wanted. Still, the price was right and I thought I could still make them work. I bought both and brought them home as possible choices to try out in the space.

world market bowl options

But, I got lucky: after expressing my frustration to a couple of friends, I received a text message with a photo of exactly what I was looking for… “with bananas for size reference.” Ha!

bananas for scale
Bananas: nature’s most delicious unit of measurement.

As it turns out, he picked this one up from Ikea (my BFF) for $10 a few months ago. So as to not simply steal his fruit bowl, I let him choose between the two I’d purchased as replacement (I’ve actually thought of a different use for the remaining one). But now you know where to look first and save yourself a hassle!

Here’s the full tutorial that could be applied to your own DIY projects. Don’t limit yourself to just a bowl though! Grab a planter basket, globe, mason jar, old pickle jars, vintage tins, anything that speaks to you, and turn it into something funky and one-of-a-kind. And while I put my light over my table, smaller glass items paired with a pendant light kit would look great over a kitchen island. The detailed instructions below will be mostly the same no matter what. Use your creativity. This is one of those home decor DIYs that feels a little more like a craft project!

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DIY Glass and Wood Pendant Light Fixture

diy glass light pendant

To make this light yourself, you’ll need (some links contain affiliates):

Materials & Tools

I last spoke about my new Forstner bits back when I made my magnetic bottle openers for the fridge, and I was sure I’d need them for this project to drill a hole through the bun foot, but it turned out that the spade bit worked much faster for drilling through. I still used the Forstner bit to begin the hole because it gave me a cleaner end result, but I’ll get to that.

diy glass light fixture elements

Step One: Take apart the pendant light kit.

The best plan begins with whichever actual lighting kit you have. The thickness of the wire will determine the width you need to drill through everything, and mine had a few extra pieces used for tightening the fixture that I then used to help secure the shade.

pendant light wiring
take apart lighting kit 2
take apart lighting kit

Step Two: Drill through the glass bowl.

Once I measured 1/2″ for getting the wiring through the bowl, I went out and purchased a diamond drill bit that could drill through glass. The actual process takes some patience (which I was screwing up at first, hence the scratches you see), so do yourself a favor and watch this video from Mandi at Vintage Revivals for tips. A few notes:

  • Work outside. I got my jeans soaked through during this, but better to do this outside where there’s less mess in your house.
  • Use a towel or thick cardboard on the ground to keep the edge of the bowl from chipping (mine actually already had a tiny chip in it to begin with, but it was a used bowl… protect yours!).
  • Start the bit at an angle to create a groove in the glass, then sloooooowly work it upward to 90 degrees so that the bit doesn’t slip and slide all around.
  • It’s actually not as hard as you make it at first! :)
drill hole in glass 1
drill hole in glass 2
drill hole in glass 3

Step Three: Remove the screw from the bun foot.

Wooden bun feet were the perfect option for the carved wood top I was trying to duplicate for this light. They come with a screw on one end though, so I had to first remove this before drilling a hole through the middle. To do this, I used self-adjusting pliers to get a firm grip on the screw and rotate it out of the foot.

bun foot 1
bun foot 2
bun foot 3

Step Four: Drill through the bun foot.

As I mentioned above, I started with a 1/2-inch Forstner bit to start the hole on each end of the bun foot. With the screw removed, it was really easy on one end, but use caution because it can slip (the pre-existing hole provides no friction for the middle tip of the bit to sink into). But once each end had the beginning started, I switched to a 1/2-inch spade bit because the drilling went a lot faster.*

drilling hole wooden bun foot
hole through bun foot

Step Five: Sand, stain, and poly the wood piece.

I wanted to make sure I didn’t screw up drilling through the piece before staining, but you can just as easily do this step before drilling through. I wanted to keep the wood somewhat natural-looking the way it did with the inspiration piece, but I was afraid that just adding poly would be too yellowing once finished. So, I did a quick coat of Minwax stain in Pickled Oak to keep the tone more neutral. The stain itself looks very milky white, but if you do only one coat and quickly wipe it off, it won’t get too light!

stain options

Because I tested out a few different stains on the bottom of the bun foot before staining the whole thing, I covered this up with a quick coat of paint during assembly (looking up at the light, you’d be able to see the test spots, so I did a quick cover-up before assembling… but if you just go with the stain I recommended, you won’t need to paint the bottom).

finished wooden bun foot

Step Six: Assemble

It took a little trial and error to determine the order, but I secured the bowl to the light fixture first using one of the wire caps on the end (they are meant to secure the light socket along the wire, etc.).

secure bowl to wiring

Realizing that this meant I also needed to thread the wooden piece over this little black cap, I went back outside and drilled the bottom end with a 5/8″ Forstner bit to widen the area just a little, which allowed the cap to fit inside snugly. You can also just sand it with some rough sandpaper if you don’t have the bit until it fits; it will just take a little longer.

fitting wooden bun foot

Step Seven: Hang

A buddy of mine gave me a Hammerhead cordless screwdriver for Christmas, and this was my first opportunity to use it. It is AWESOME! It has a wire stripper and circuit sensor built in, not to mention powered and cordless, making installation with one hand and driving screws a lot easier than last time. I plan on writing a full, separate review about some of its features and might even do a demo video for Youtube, just because I really like it when tools work really well and make solo jobs 1000% easier to complete. Especially since my procrastination peaks when I think the project is going to be a hassle!

install light

And here is the end result!

DIY light fixture small bulb
DIY glass pendant light knockoff small bulb

At first, I tried out a smaller bulb. But I think I like the larger version better!

diy glass light fixture knockoff uglyducklinghouse
pendant light fixture
diy glass light fixture knockoff
diy light fixture breakfast nook

And here it is with the light on:

DIY kitchen light fixture lit
diy light fixture night

The cost of the inspiration light fixture was $150 ($130 if I had been able to get the discount, but was sold out anyway), but the total cost of this knockoff project was only $54! ($10 for the bowl if I’d purchased it, $9 for the wooden bun foot, $15 for the pendant light kit, and $20 for glass bit, which I’ll likely find excuses to use again).

DIY glass pendant light knockoff via The Ugly Duckling House blog

If you enjoyed this project, you’re in luck… there are still a lot of ideas for the #DIYLightingChallenge yet left to check out below (and you can link yours as well, or use the hashtag on social media). And I’ve got two more lighting projects coming to the blog soon. Stay tuned for an awesome giveaway next! (update: pushed to Monday, but I’ll have a new post in between). It’s been a while since the last one, so it seems like it’s about time for another. Check back tomorrow!

UPDATE: A number of the questions so far have been about the specifics of the light bulb I used. They are GE Reveal bulbs, and I really like using these in the house. They appear sort of bluish when they are off, but in my opinion, the color they give off is a pure white that falls somewhere between soft white and daylight. Daylight tends to be too blue with some brands, soft white is too warm, but I really like the way these give off light, especially for photos. The only downside is that I haven’t found any LED versions that look pretty enough to be in a clear-shade setup like this light fixture, but hopefully soon!

*How many “that’s what she said” jokes did you find in this post? A lot, right? I bet a lot.

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15 Comments

  1. This is awesome! I love DIY lighting–sometimes a much more reasonable way to get the look you’re going for. And you totally achieved your look. I love the blend of the glass and wood.

    1. Thanks Julia! I am really pleased with how it turned out and am glad to FINALLY not bump my head anymore on that other light!

  2. You did a fantastic job on this! And I remember you showing me the picture of the expensive fixture at the beach! Seriously, you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. Nice job.

    1. Just a personal preference thing. The blue-hued bulb is called a GE “Reveal” bulb… it only looks bluish when the light is off, but the color when lit is much more pleasing and truly pure “white” than the yellowish soft white or normal Edison bulb. I use them all over the house and they are great for photos. I have plans for a lighting project that actually uses an Edison bulb in the office, but the Edison just didn’t seem right for this project because it would fight for attention with the other features of the light.

  3. These are so pretty! What a great glass pendant light!very pretty and looking gorgeous, you did great job Sarah :)
    you have a very nice blog. happy blogging! following you now!
    .

  4. Hi Sarah.
    What a great idea (you should send it to ikea hackers – I fondly remember the day I first came across young house love there back in the day…)

    I went back on forth whether to say this because I dislike negative comments, but I would like to suggest this as an possible upgrade: another lighting kit would way more polished (the shape of the current one and the treading to screw on a shade just don’t make sense as is):
    http://www.amazon.com/Globe-Electric-64906-Vintage-Hanging/dp/B00HX2EVHG/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1457619458&sr=8-8&keywords=light+kit+black

    Also: congrats on the checkered shirt person – I no longer qualify for single DIYer anymore either :) (as I did back when you called us to link up)

    Greetings from Germany
    Jenn(ifer)

    1. I considered that one, but it looked too long and I was thinking that the length of the socket + the bulb would stick out too much! I think I might have actually linked to it in the post as a suggestion though!

      (And TBH, I had the same reservations at first, but I had some drama with trying to find a hole cutting bit that would work on glass that would be large enough to fit the treading all the way through the bowl. After I’d done it and got it installed, it strangely grew on me… probably out of sheer laziness, but it’s got some imperfection/quirkiness to it, which I like!)

      1. It’s definitely a great light DIY either way and it deserves popping up everywhere (seen it in several link partys and in my pinterest feed repeatedly)

  5. Just thought you should know, that even licensed GCs use your DIY ideas in their projects! I love being able to give my clients something they haven’t seen before. Thank you!

    1. That’s awesome to hear, Ryan! Glad to have some experts following along to chime in too. I’ve been strongly considering getting my GC license for the last year or so but haven’t pulled the trigger.

  6. Do you have the dimensions for the bowl that you used? I am going to use a similar bowl and I would like to know if it will be big enough before I order it. Thank you!

    1. I was given the bowl by another person, so I didn’t actually purchase it. I’m pretty sure it’s from Ikea. So, if it’s not discontinued, it would be one like this and it says online it has an 8-inch diameter. Sorry for the runaround explanation but hope that helps!