Going Out on a Limb

You wanna know something?  Pinterest is starting to take over my life, in a good way.  I’ve been inspired to make several items so far, and I’ve just added another to the list.  I’ve already professed my love for birds, so this  is a fitting addition.  One fine day, Pinterest showed me this bird-cage pendant.

Clouds parted, angels sang.  It was a glorious moment.  The price tag, very glorious.  All $615 U.S. dollars of it.  Of course, like any sane DIY-er, I racked my brain for a place to put a similar pendant.  A proverbial light bulb lit for my light in waiting.  Why not my office?  Sure, I already have a light in there.  But, it’s kind of boring.  Just a descended boob fixture.

I can’t justify taking down the old light and simply donating it.  The thing cost 50 bucks, people.  So, I had to think of a place for that light, too.  Hey, hey.  Why not the small basement bedroom?

Yes, that’s perfect.  Rather than a perky boob, why not a saggy one?  With my placement strategy ready, I set out to make a bird-cage pendant.  First step, find an old lamp shade to snag the washer top fitting for the base of my shade.  Luckily, I found a large, ugly lamp shade at the thrift store, priced at $5.99.  Not too bad, but this shade had a large tear in the fabric, so the check out lady discounted the shade to only $2.99.  Score!

Next, off to Hobby Lobby to buy me some fake birds.  I came home with 4 sheets, 10 birds total, for $7.96.  After HL, I stopped at two hardware stores, hoping to find a similar wire for the cage.  I did, but the small stores charged about thirteen bucks for a small roll.  I decided to hold out until our next Home Depot trip.  Well, Ben went to Home Depot first, so he bought a two foot wide but five foot long roll of 1/2 inch hardware cloth for $8.34.  Finally, with all my supplies ready, I started working on my pendant.  I tore the ugly fabric off the lamp shade to expose the wire cage.  That’s when Houston called to say we had a problem.  The washer top fitting wasn’t flat, it was recessed.

Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if I were covering the shade with fabric, but the recessed adapter would be more of a focal point.  And I worried about the heat of a bulb being too close to the birds.  Why didn’t I realize this before?  Gah.

So, I nicely begged Ben to cut the fitting apart and reattach the pieces for a flat top.  Because Ben is brilliant, he came up with a better solution.  First, he cut off four of the eight rods (leaving every other) supporting the top and bottom rings.  Then, he used a channel lock to bend the rods at a 45 degree angle, bringing each end to the center.

He tried welding the rods together to make a square fitting, but it wasn’t strong enough.  Instead, he welded a washer to the four rods.

Perfection.  And, whether he planned this or not the ugly side was face up, so it wouldn’t be visible from below.

My hero, Ben, was able to make a flush top out of a recessed top. leaving me with this.

Aaaaaat laaaaast, I could really get started.  I gathered my supplies: one wire ring fitting, one roll of 1/2 inch hardware cloth, 18 gauge wire, styrofoam birds, 6 pound test fishing line, wire cutters, a measuring tape, and sticks.

Before I could do the pretty part, I cut down my hardware cloth.  The descended boob hangs down roughly 14 inches from the ceiling, which is the lowest we can have given the shorter basement ceilings.  I want the shade a few inches from the ceiling, so I cut the wire to eleven inches, one tiny wire at a time.

With my 11 inch by 5 foot piece of wire netting cut, I used a channel lock to fold one square over, all along one edge.

Once I folded the edge, I placed my wire top inside, clamping the folded netting over.

I had to cut a few squares to go around the washer top support rods, but that was easy.

After clamping the entire ring with wire net, I overlapped the ends slightly and cut.  I used a metal clamp (actually a surgical clamp-it worked wonderfully, getting into the tight areas) to hold the ends tightly together before wiring everything shut.

A little bit of wire wrapped around the ends held everything in place tightly.

Things are shaping up, literally.  The hardware mesh was sturdy enough that I didn’t have to add a ring at the bottom.  It held its shape nicely.

I’m likin’ it.  Now, how about a shot of color?  Bring on the birds.  The birds I bought have a small wire stuck in the middle, so I wrapped the wire around a stick. Seemed to hold, so I wired another bird on the stick.  And another, and another.  And some fishing line to each end.  I tied the bird-laden stick to the wire support.  It looked too sparse, so I tied another stick and two birds on.  Sorry, the birds are blurry.  Vincent kept petting them, so the sticks moved.  A lot.

That was still a little plain for my liking, so I found another stick in the yard and looped a wired bird around it, tied it to the cage and stared.  It still wasn’t quite right.  How about another bird stick?  More fiddling and rearranging (to keep the bird from tipping, looking dead) and I finally had all ten birds secured.

In certain light, the fishing line is visible, but only if you’re looking for it.  See it here?

I like the natural metal finish on the cage.  I know the original is copper, but I didn’t have copper spray paint and I felt lazy.

Here she is, done and ready for wiring.  If I see more special looking birds, I’d like to buy a few, just for varied colors.

So far, I have a shade but I need to find a wiring kit or cheap pendant to use to hang this whole thing from.  Off to Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I think.  Who knows when I’ll actually get around to wiring and hanging this guy.  Who’s ready for a price break down?

Lampshade: $2.99

4 packs of fake birds: $7.96

Roll of hardware cloth: $8.34

Sticks: Free from mother nature

Fishing line, wire, wire cutters, and tape measure:  Already owned

Total spent so far:  $19.29 and I still have the top fitting of the lamp shade and enough wire netting to make a second pendant, if I so choose.  Perhaps I’ll find a pendant or wiring kit for less than $5.71 to keep my total under 25 bucks.  Think I can do it?  Yeah, me neither.  Fingers crossed ReStore has something.

So, how does this DIY rate against a 600 plus dollar fixture?  Are you constantly drawn to making lights like I am?  Ben jokes that I only make pillows and light fixtures.  Sadly, that seems to be true.  We really need to start on the kitchen so I can focus my energy on something else.  Do you make the same items over and over again?  Please tell me your house is crowded with some sort of DIY project?

17 thoughts on “Going Out on a Limb

  1. I’ve gotta admit, I have a completely irrational fear of birds yet I still think this is so cute! Love it!
    Do you have an Ikea near you? They have a HEMMA cord set for $3.99 (http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/10175810/)
    If that’s what you’re looking for, I will grab one from the Ikea 10 minutes from my house and mail it to you! (Yeh, I’ll take any excuse to go to Ikea – even if I only leave with a $1 ice cream cone!)

  2. what a fantastic knock off. I like this better than copper!
    mybee you should try stealing the idea of one bird on top as well, I think it gives the whole thing something extra special…
    Good luck on the lamp kid!

    Lately I have done guite a few pillows as well (and it started with one inspired by you, so it is really your fault 😉

  3. This is so cute. I should do this in one of my rooms since I am Caity Bird and I do love Birds. I think I am going to attempt to make your cool circular pendant for my laundry room. I will post pics if I do. 🙂

    1. Aww, you’re all so sweet! Thank you so much for such encouraging feedback!

      Lizzy, that’s exactly what I need. Too bad our closest Ikea is 12 plus hours away. 😦 I’ll see if I can bribe my sister into going for me, but if I can’t find something, I might take you up on your kind offer.

      Jenn(ifer), Great minds think alike! I thought about adding another bird to the top. If I find a special bird, I think that’s what I’ll do. 🙂 I’ll gladly take the blame for your new pillow obsession. Why not when they can add so much to a room for so little money?!?

      Thanks again! You all rock my socks and keep this blog going. 🙂

  4. Hey, that turned out pretty cool! Nice job….I love birds too. But, ever since that Portlandia episode “Put A Bird On It” I hold back from…well, putting a bird on everything. ;o) I still sneak them in here and there- can’t help it! hee!

  5. It’s me again! [lol] I’m making my own quirky version of this right now! sending a link back your way for the tips and inspiration! ❤ hope mine comes out as awesome as yours! =) trying to rig it to a tripod of sorts #fingerscrossed! =)

    thanks for the inspiring DIY project!

  6. wow fantastic, I’ve seen this bird cage pendent before on Pinrest.
    Wow it’s a small world , i’ve just found who made that.!!!

    I will try to make this myself , this weekend 🙂

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