Make a Pendant Light for Less than $20

Make a Pendant Light for Less than $20

Carrie McBride
May 17, 2010

(Welcome and thanks to Charles who is trying out for a spot on the Ohdeedoh editorial team. Comments are welcome!)

A room's lighting must be functional, but it's also a perfect place to make a design impact. These pendant lamps can be sophisticated, whimsical, or anywhere in-between and best of all, cost about $20 to make!

• Cardstock sheet
• Spraypaint
• Electrical cord and socket set
• Wire hanger
• Lightbulb
• Dimmer control (optional)

• X-Acto knife
• Pencil
• Cutting mat
• Hot-glue gun
• Wire cutters/pliers
• Straight-edge ruler (optional)


1. Outline: Look for cardstock that has a shiny side and a raw white paper side. (Craft stores sell 19.5 x 26 inch sheets which are a good size for small to medium rooms.) We used a geometric pattern for this modern nursery, but you can draw out any shapes you like. To replicate our look, mark half-inch intervals around the edge of the sheet and use the straight-edge to line out a grid.

2 Cut: Using the X-Acto and cutting mat, cut out your stenciled pieces. Don't make your designs too small - it's a lamp, so you need openings that let sufficient light through. Also, leave enough of a border on the short side of the cardstock so that you can glue it into a tube.

3. Paint: In a well-ventilated area, spray paint the white, raw side of the cardstock and allow to dry. This will be the outside of the shade, while the shiny interior will face the bulb.

4. Glue: Roll the sheet's ends together and hot-glue into a tube.

5. Assemble: The electrical cord and socket set can be basic, if you're going to run the wiring through the ceiling or otherwise hide it. For exposed cords, we recommend the "Hemma" set from Ikea. It's cheap ($3.99), comes in several colors and looks great all on its own. Straighten the hanger as best you can and cut in half. The Hemma cord set has a threaded clamp which you can use to hold the pieces in place while you glue them permanently. Using your tube as a guide, cut the ends of the wire so they fit nicely inside, then hot-glue each end to the tube.

6. Balance: It's pretty hard to get the balance exactly right when gluing everything in place. Get it as close as you can, then test-hang your light. Using poster tack, add quarters (washers work too, but can actually be more expensive to buy if you don't have spares) to the side opposite the lean. Once the balance is right, swap the tack for hot-glue.

Additional Notes:

Hardware stores offer a variety of switches and dimmers, or you can plug into an outlet controlled by a wall switch.

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