DIY: String Globe Chandelier Tutorial

As promised, here are more pictures and the full string globe chandelier tutorial! We are very proud of how it turned out and think this is something anyone could do for themselves. I know one person who made these globes to decorate a nursery (much smaller versions) without the light fixture. The possibilities are endless.

Andy is really the only one equipped to give the full tutorial, so I will hand the keyboard over to him, and will note when it’s my experience talking 😉

When I [Andy] saw this string globe chandelier on Pinterest (I think I must have mis-typed espn.com…) I knew that it would fit our kitchen and dining room… even before we had what could loosely be called a kitchen or dining room.

Over the course of the past few months I’ve been itching to start this project. Unfortunately, I had dirtier and harder [but more important jobs] that had to come first. The globe chandelier was literally the light at the end of the tunnel. I knew that when the chandelier was finished that meant we’d successfully completed the kitchen project.

During the past few months I read every DIY and blog post available on string globe chandeliers. We didn’t copy any single DIY but meshed the parts that we liked from several versions into what we wanted. Each globe that I read about had helpful tips and strategies that helped us make our chandelier. However, I was frustrated there wasn’t a single place with a well-defined supplies list and easy to follow, step by step, instructions. That’s what I hope that this post can be for someone who likes this concept but wants to be sure that if they do ABC everything will work out.

Here is what we ended up with. If you like what you see then keep reading to find out how we did it.

What you need to buy:

  • 3 foot balloon ($5)
    We bought this one. I would recommend red or another bold color so that you can easily see your string coverage when you are wrapping it.
  • Ikea Hemma Cord Set found here ($4)
  • 1400 yards of Red Heart size 10 thread found here ($10)
    Our Walmart didn’t have the 1000 yard spool so I bought up their whole supply of 350 yard spools (5, then I botched 1…read on). I knew that I wanted this thread after seeing the way that this globe ended up. Of all the blogs, theirs was the one that I relied on most.
  • 1 tub of petroleum jelly found here ($3)
  • 2 bottles of 16 oz Mod Podge Matte found here ($12)
  • Corn starch
  • 1 sheet of clear acetate ($6)- I bought it in the crafts section at Hobby Lobby.

Optional Supplies:

  • 6′ x 8′ tarp ($3). Your floor will be sticky otherwise. We did this in the garage and still found it very necessary.
  • White Chandelier ceiling mount ($6). This is the one we got at Lowes.

  • 16″ Oversized White ceiling mount cover
    We got this one at Lowes ($20). I thought this was the most outrageous price for a plastic frisbee but it was necessary to center our chandelier in the room without some serious drywall work. You may not need this if you had previous home owners who were competent.

  • Drywall anchor/screws. If you are relocating the chandelier somewhere other than your current junction box make sure you use these to keep your new chandelier from pulling out of the ceiling and crashing down. We had these on hand.
  • Adhesive spray ($5) found here. I honestly don’t know how much of an effect it had but I hoped it would give the globe a little more durability.

Tools:

  • Hands, total of four
  • Pen
  • Large Bowl
  • Stirring stick
  • Wire cutters and strippers (wire strippers, pervs)

Step by step:

1. Blow up your balloon. Make sure you have a spotter in case you pass out.

2. Draw a large circle around the knot of the balloon with a sharpie. This will be the bottom of the globe where you access the light bulb. I would not do a hole smaller than 12″ across because you will have trouble getting your arm in to change out the bulb. The easiest way to draw the circle is to trace a bowl. I botched my first circle, that’s why we had to draw a second.

3. Hang your balloon from the knot at a height that allows you to see the top of the balloon while standing and the bottom of the balloon while squatting. We tied ours to our garage door opener. We used a few feet of the thread we bought for the globe to hang it.

4. Put the tarp down under the balloon. If you like sticky floors then you can forgo the tarp under your balloon and drink shaken up soda while you’re working.

5. Grease up your balloon with the petroleum jelly. I think we applied a little bit too much in retrospect. We have some little petroleum crystals between some of the strings on our globe. Becca likes the sparkliness so it worked out. You want to put enough jelly that the string will stick to the balloon temporarily, even without the glue solution.

6. Create your gluey substance. We did two batches of glue because we ran out halfway through. I think you could do one big batch and save time. Pour your two bottles of Mod Podge into a bucket. Add 2 cups of water. Add enough corn starch to make the glue the same viscosity of the Mod Podge before you added the water. We used probably 5 tablespoons.

7. Cover your string with your glue substance. This is a two person job. I thought that because the thread was wrapped so nicely around the core that it came on that I could dunk the whole ball in the bucket of glue and let it soak as I unraveled it and swiftly wrapped the balloon. I literally had not pulled the start of the strand of thread from the bucket to the balloon 2 feet away before it glued itself together in a knotty mess. I saw some tutorials that recommended doing this. I think they were either using thicker string or they are magicians. I had to throw away that whole roll of thread.

8. This is really just point #7 but the correct way. One person (Becca) needs to tend to the bucket of glue. Rest the spool of thread outside of the bucket and slowly feed the line through the glue as the other person pulls out the tension and wraps the balloon. Glue coverage on the string is key to a globe that will last once the balloon support is taken away.

*From this point forward you will be covered in glue. I now understand the lack of pictures in the other DIY’s I read.

9. Wrap the balloon. This is tougher than the DIYs I read made it seem. Remember the circle you drew around the knot of your balloon? Don’t let your string wrap through that circle. You want to keep that clear for access to the globes innermost secrets…the lightbulb. We had 4 rolls of thread so I wrapped 1 horizontally oriented then 1 vertically oriented and then repeated. Wrapping the thread horizontally is easy. You will want to feed the thread onto the balloon with one hand while you gently spin the balloon with the other. Your “feed hand” should go up and down to vary the thread coverage. It is important that each wrap splits the globe in half as best you can. This is what creates the tension on the string. Does that make sense? Here is the best way I can explain it. If your string is a flight, you don’t want to fly from Canada to Russia and back to Canada. That would let the string slip up off the top of the balloon and lose tension. If you’re flying from Canada you want to fly southeast all the way down through Australia and back. This will keep the tension because you’re wrapping the full circumference of the balloon. The key is to vary each wrap slightly while still keeping that globe split in half with each wrap. This is easier said than done.

This is after two spools of string (700 yards)

When you are wrapping vertically you still want to slowly spin the globe, but you’ll be adding some squats as you spin. Start each wrap along the edge of the circle you drew. You want lots of thread coverage around that hole but none crossing through it. As you wrap the thread down towards the bottom of the balloon spin the balloon so that the thread is held tight against the balloon but is facing away from you. Then pull the string under the balloon and wrap it back to the top while the balloon spins back towards you. This is hard to explain in writing but you will get the feel for it. The key is to pass the string across the bottom to the balloon and keep it there even though it will want to slide off the balloon because it is not splitting the globe perfectly (because of your no fly zone over the north pole). Vertical wrapping is the hardest part. This is why I chose to do my final thread horizontally, so that I could tighten everything down with the easier and tighter horizontal wrapping.

This is after four rounds of string (1400 yards)

10. Once you’ve used up your thread let the balloon dry for 24 hours. We actually only made it 20 hours and things turned out fine.

11. Pop the balloon. Make sure someone is holding the globe when you pop the balloon because the only thing supporting the globe is the string tied to the balloon you’re about to pop (obviously). Hold the globe gently. When the balloon is popped the tendency will be to crush the globe because you are removing that outward pressure from the balloon.

12. Optional- spray the balloon with the adhesive spray and let dry for a few hours. I don’t think this did anything but I’d hate to have your globe fail and that was the missing ingredient.

13. Prepare your ceiling for mounting. Remove the old chandelier and disconnect your wires (turn off your power please)

14. Cut your Hemma light cord to the desired height. Strip back the white outer sheath to reveal two inner wires. Strip back the sheaths around the black and white wires so that there is an inch of exposed wire at the end of each.

15. Cut a 12″ circle out of your clear acetate sheet. You can use your same large bowl. Cut a straight line from one side of the acetate circle to the center. Cut a little circle notch in the middle of the acetate big enough to the feed through cord through. I don’t have a picture of this because I rushed through it on my lunch break…

16. I think our hanging was a unique situation so I won’t go in-depth. You will want to use your lamp cord like a shish kabob with the bulb being the first layer. The second layer is your acetate circle. This will bear the weight of the globe against the light bulb. We added this one day after we hung the globe because in 12 hours our globe started to buckle at the top and sag. A small surface area of string can’t be expected to hold this 3 foot globe.


17. Next on your shish kabob is the globe itself. Feed up through the hole you left at the bottom so that your bulb is left inside the globe with the acetate buffer.

18. The next layer is the white ceiling mount plate. If you needed a 16″ ceiling cover plate that would go next.

19. Wire your black and white wires to the existing ceiling wires by braiding them to together and fastening then with the caps that should have been on the wires from your old chandelier. You will need a second person to support the globe while you wire the new chandelier. Make sure that you have support for the globe inside your ceiling. Do not expect your ceiling wires to hold up your globe. At the very least wrap the Hemma cord around the support bar that is over the junction box in the ceiling.

I didn’t want my clothes getting in the way of this installation…

[Becca’s Note – he was wearing pants. I don’t permit my husband to do electrical work in the nude]

20. Screw down your white mounting plate to the junction box.

21. Turn your power back on and pray the light works.

I think this is a pretty exhaustive (and ridiculously long) tutorial on making a string globe chandelier. If I left anything out that you would find helpful leave a comment and I’ll update. Altogether we spent about $65 and about 6 hours. If you had a straight forward installation to an existing junction box you should be under $50 and 4 hours. We think we ended up with a chandelier at a size that would cost $$$, but the fact that we did it ourselves from scratch makes it priceless.

It provides plenty of light, and is high enough that I [Becca] can walk under it. We are excited to hear what all of you think of it!

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10 thoughts on “DIY: String Globe Chandelier Tutorial

  1. Michele Green says:

    Amazing and beautiful! I love the light patterns on the ceiling and walls. Andy, your instructions are so clear. Good work.

  2. Crystal says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I had read others and, like you, I found them very vague. I’m so glad I came across yours before I tried to ‘wing it’ using those other instructions. It’s so beautiful! Great job!

  3. Charbarrebar says:

    Lovely! Thanks for the tips, you did a great job. I’m going to be making one with a yoga ball, so I don’t think I’ll be able to hang it though. Hmmmmm. I’m thinking of using wallpaper paste or Weldbonds for the adhesive, so we’ll see how it goes!

  4. Arshi says:

    I am so glad I found your tutorial. I have been wanting to do this for my wedding where I’m DIY’ing most parts of the decor. I almost backed out of doing it as I did not find clear instructions to doing it. I can go ahead with it now.!!! Also, I’m planning to spray paint it Gold. I just have a little request. Could you explain how it is to be installed to an existing junction box? I’m a total Newbie when it comes to electrical work and would love to have some clear instructions in that aspect. Thank you once again for this tutorial.

  5. Bill says:

    Thanks for the informative and humorous tutorial. I’ll be making one for over our dining room table. We live in a desert contemporary house in Palm Springs and it gets sandy. This light is open and airy and I’ll be able to clean it with the leaf blower.

  6. Amy C. says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post. I was wondering – since its been a number of years since you made this light, do you still use it and how is it hold up? Is the shape holding up alright and what about keeping it dust free? Thanks again!!

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