Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the third industrial pendant

One of the first art lessons I still remember is the one in which we were introduced to the fact that in nature, things often occur in odd numbers (plant leafs, flower petals, etc.). It was an introduction to the Rule of Odds, which is used often in art and design to keep your brain interested and engaged, and you can find it in art from ancient Japan through the Renaissance all the way up through current day.

At the end of a previous lighting post, I mentioned that the idea for a certain spot in our house was to eventually have three hanging pendants for balance. That's the Rule of Odds at play in our living room.

Light number 1 was a five-cent frosted pendant.

Light number 2 was a metal cage light made with salvaged parts. (I've switched out the light kit since the original tutorial to accommodate a standard-sized Edison-style lightbulb.)

And this, the third, is was originally a plastic cage light, like this one, purchased used for 50 cents at Bring (but I've seen them similarly priced at the Habitat ReStore).

I hung it from a coat hanger in the yard and sprayed with gentle layers of primer, aluminum finish, and flat black spray paint to give it the look of aged metal.

Here are all three together at last:

I have them all hung by hooks from the ceiling. 

My original hope was to hard wire them all together, but since I lack the practical expertise for that, the cords run bundled down the edge of the window frame and are turned on and off via a power strip. I hope to get the curtains rehung to hide them a little better soon.

I've seen a few lighting solutions lately that involve swooping black cable and exposed bulbs and while I love the look in a loft space (like the one Brooks designed on DesignStar), it's not practical with 8-foot ceilings. I'd likely accidentally hang myself.

Okay, now you know what you need to know to diy three pendant lighting fixtures on a teeny tiny budget. Of course, if you have a bit more money you want to spend, you can buy industrial metal light cages:

And if the price isn't much of an issue:

But in my house, I'm likely to spend the $1000 per fixture on that last link towards the mortgage or something else really practical, and hang up the diy version instead. How about you?

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

what's up in the alley

There's an awkward area of our yard that's about six feet wide and borders the neighbors' property . . . where, in defiance of -- I don't know -- a million local building codes, they've built an addition about a foot away from the property line. It was there before we moved in, it'll be there after we leave. Unless the branches of our nut tree fall and crush it. I'd kinda love to see what kind of insurance claim would attempt to be filed on something like that.

Anyway, I digress. This awkward area of our yard is something I've ignored since moving in several years ago because: a) I'm an expert at avoiding things that drive me bananas; b) it's a very narrow area; and c) we had to break into our house through the fireplace one Fourth of July, and the alley has been full of rubble.

(That's a funny story; it starts with an unusable sixties-era fireplace separating from the foundation {Ha ha! Funny already, right?}. The plot thickens when we lock ourselves out of the house on a holiday weekend, then, to regain entry, bust through the decades-old brick and mortar with a sledge to the shock and awe of the house cats. Finally, in the conclusion, your intrepid hero and heroine patch up the wall and, eventually, re-side the entire house, but leave a pile of urbanite, pea gravel, concrete blocks and river stones in the alley. For a couple of years.)

It's a major unfinished project to just have laying around, and I started to finally tackle it because my kiddo is getting older and more exploratory, and I don't really want to leave him to the mercy of (possible) rubble-dwelling black widows and (possible) rusted nails from our roof replacement.

Here's a sneak peek, then, of some of the projects going on in the alley. My goal is to use mostly recycled materials and stuff we have on hand to beautify the alley and make it safer to traverse. This trellis, for example, is something I built using some cedar garden stakes from an estate sale (25 for $5!) and a busted extension ladder.

The raised beds are built of fireplace rubble ("urbanite") and filled with dirt from another spot in the yard, mulch from the city's Free Wood Chips pile, and plants from the local garden center's end-of season sale plant rack. I searched out shade-happy vining plants to help fill in that trellis.

And I made these planters out of a couple of old buckets and some split garden hoses.

There's a lot of work to do here still, but I'm feeling good that progress is happening. It was a scary, weedy, rubble-y mess that was in desperate need of attention . . . and now it's getting a little. I'll definitely be back with updates and details as this project progresses as it's far from finished; I have so many ideas! So much to do before the weather turns! So much stuff for my kiddo to get into while I'm slaving away in the alley! What about you? Are you trying to make something out of nothing this summer, too?

Thanks for reading.

p.s. Hey! You can make these images larger just by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that, clever you.