Google+ Nine Red: How To: Bird Cage Chandelier

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How To: Bird Cage Chandelier

Bird cages are readily available. Garage sales, thrift shops, previous pets... have you thought of making them into a light? Some stores sell birdcage chandeliers already, but that will run you upwards of $200 - $800 (no joke!).... lighting can be intimidating but it really isn't that hard! Today I want to show you how I took my old bird cage (sorry lil finches..) and made it into a sunny chandelier.  Take a look:
I chose paper cranes for mine, but another really cute version would be the "mushroom birds" you see at craft stores:
In that photo, you can tell it wasn't originally a bird cage, but a lampshade that has wires vs. paper. I promise to make one of those next time, and I'll do a tutorial for you then. But for now! Let's begin:

You'll need:
  • A bird cage! 
  • Primer
  • Spray paint in your color choice
  • Box to spray paint inside of (costco dumps these on us everytime we go)
  • Paper, if making cranes.
  • Thread & Needle
  • Super Glue
  • Bottle Adapter Lamp Kit (hardware stores)
  • Cute light bulb (I like vintage style bulbs available at all major hardware stores)
  • A spot to hang it!
To start, clean the bird cage. You don't know where that's been! Birds may be cute but they aren't the cleanest creatures in the world.  Now let's prime.
I chose to lay my cage inside of a box, and prime outside for ventilation.  Spray paint is serious business, you may think it just smells bad, but if you inhale it for too long you definitely feel a little fuzzy, and that can't be good!  The reason I'm using a box is because so much paint will be going past the tiny bars, that I hope it will circulate inside the box and coat other sides of the cage. And it worked! Yay me.... finally a use for those gigantic indestructible Costco boxes they pawn off on us.

After your primer has dried and you're happy with your coverage, let's jump into the color. I chose yellow!
This is definitely a weekend project  by the way, it didn't take long at all.  Turn the cage inside your box to get all the different angles, this surprisingly doesn't take much. Here it is finished, drying in the sun:
Meanwhile, while that dries, let's take a breather inside and start up these origami cranes.  I wanted to use old book pages, and have a few books lying around that can be sacrificed.  Don't worry, these are the "Readers Digest Condensed Reading" books from every thrift store in America... so we aren't missing much.   Using a box cutter, I carefully sliced out a few pages:
Haha - Yes - my scissors do say "paper only" - I'm crazy like that. I was taught early on that if scissors didn't have dedicated uses they would dull really fast.  It's true too, I have fabric scissors that are still extremely sharp after 10 years!  So now, we need to make some squares. This may be old news for some of you, but not everyone knows how to make a square:
To summarize, you fold the "good" edge, or the one you know to be true, against another good edge. In this case, the bottom and right side of the page.  Then, fold that triangle in half, so it's edges meet itself.  All your folds at this point become "good edges".  Now, simply cut (using paper scissors) along your last good edge.  Boom, a square! Now make a million cranes. I won't go down the path of telling you how, but I will give you a good link, that even has a great video:
After you have made as many as your heart can handle, let's take some power tools to the top of our cage.  If your cage doesn't have a top like mine, you can just run your wire into the cage as neatly as possible.
I just drilled right through, with a drill bit that seemed big enough.  Easy enough! Now take out your bottle kit, and skim over the directions on the back. They are super easy. You'll wonder why you haven't done this before (assuming you haven't!)
Familiarize yourself with the parts and assembly, then run your wire through the hole we just made.
After the wire is in, start your assembly.  If you don't feel comfortable with this part, call up an electrician, they'll have it done in a jiff. Note I did NOT use all the parts provided, because I wasn't installing this on a bottle.  I used the threaded piece, the socket, and one of the spare rubber bits to hide the threaded piece. I probably shouldn't have tested my light while the bulb was on the floor, but it was only a second,  I swear..! Now adjust the height you want the bulb, and tie a knot in the wire outside the hole in the top of the cage:
This may be common knowledge, but I have to say itSomething important to remember, and about wiring in general, is you don't want to have the wire supporting the cage.   The cage should have it's own hook, the wire is merely supporting itself within the cage.  If you need your chandelier to hang lower, attach a chain to the cage top and braid your wire through that.  Safety first people!  :)  

It's time to add our birdies, get our your sewing kit: (Yep - mine is a tackle box. meh! it works..)
It's as simple as sewing.  Tie a knot in your thread, make sure it's a triple or so, big enough to not come through the needle hole.  Send the needle through the base of the crane (there's a hole, you'll see) and out it's back.  Then we are going to simply tie the strings in at various heights.  Here's a tip, I used a paper clip bent into a hook, to help me pass the needle and thread in and out of the birdcage.
For extra security, seal your knots to the cage with a drip of super glue, you do not want to have birds falling out over time!  I put mine in random spots, sometimes putting two cranes at different heights on one string. 
There we go! And now, all finished in it's  new home:
My cage used to have a bottom, but I didn't want it to block the light so I ditched it. After all, we aren't keeping REAL birds in here.... poor things would burn up.  

So what do you think? This would be great in a kids room, and something that they could help make too.  You can even add birds over time.  I am really excited to try a similar version with the mushroom birds, and maybe some driftwood branches.  What variations would you do? Plus, you could even rotate it with the seasons if you're into holiday decorating. Crows in the fall, Doves or Cardinals in the winter...tropical birds in the summer.. so many fun options!  

Thanks for reading my tutorial, I hope you liked it! If you decide to do this, please share it with us! I love to see what you all are up to.  Have a great day, keep in touch:  Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter & Email.  Hit that Pin It button if you want to save this for later. Have fun!

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  1. Ca-ute! I like the cranes better than's more *modern*?? LOL Nice job.

  2. awesome! that gives me an idea to finally do something with Wholesale Mini Birdcage Candleholder that I found here...GalleyDirect I want to do something similar but put them hanging over the bar area. Thank you!!!! I'll share this once I get to making one. thank you again!

  3. Bird cages are readily available. Garage sales, thrift shops, previous pets...


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