Wording With Purpose

Hoop Pendant Light

No matter how carefully one plans a project unforeseen circumstances can arise. Last summer I completed a rustic ceiling light to match daughter Michelle’s farm table. Even the installation went smoothly with all my cuts and preparations fitting perfectly into place. The unforeseen circumstance arose as I cleaned up the job site and walked my eight-foot ladder out of the dining room through the house rabbit’s gate and down the hall toward the front door. I caught the entry light on the ladder and shattered the glass.

My solution was to head to the home center a few miles away, find a glass the same size, and repair the damage. Michelle had another idea. “Dad, I never liked that light anyway. It doesn’t fit my decorating scheme. I will use it with the bare bulbs for now and find a picture of a design I like and see what we can build.”

Oh, my! In the next days I pulled together a few suggestions for Michelle to consider but months passed without her selection. I offered a couple of times to return to my first option and purchase a replacement glass. A few days before Christmas Michelle’s gift list appeared on Amazon. Occupying a prominent spot on the list was a tiny image of the light she wanted. I saved the image, of course, but warned her that the interval between that moment and Christmas was too short to guarantee completion. (Note: I finished and installed the light on New Year’s Eve.)

Pinterest and the upscale home furnishing catalogs are littered with pendant lights made from quilting hoops and a bulb or two. And for some reason the ladies are crazy over them.

We opted to use a triple bulb arrangement if I could locate an affordable socket. I took a short cut and made a quick trip to the Habitat Reuse store. Digging through the stuff some green-thinking souls kept from the landfill I found an old porch light with a triple candelabra socket and a $6 price tag. Sweet! I had a shot at making Michelle’s dream light.

One of the three sockets did not function as expected and I suppose that is the reason such a nice light was discarded. After a repair I had the fixture powered up and it passed my tests. Now to disassemble and remove what I need from the light.

Quilting hoops are offered in various diameters and we chose 14” hoops. For the uninitiated a quilting hoop breaks into two rings so two hoops provide 4 orbital sections for the light. I found mine on Amazon. See the link at the bottom of the page.

Our parts list:

  • 2 14” quilting hoops
  • 1 old light for parts
  • 7 #8-32 x ½” brass knurled head screws
  • 7 #8-32 brass knurled nuts
  • 4 #8-32 x ¾” brass wood screws
  • Stain
  • Wipe on polyurethane

The knurled hardware was bright brass and I need a way to dull that shine to match the antiqued look of the salvaged components. Craft stores offer products to age brass in minutes and a web search will return scads of how-to tutorials. In the end I soaked the brass in acetone to remove any protective coating, rubbed the heads with 220 grit sandpaper and plopped them in a bowl of vinegar sprinkled with 1 tbsp. (the big spoon) of salt. The hardware remained in the solution for about 24 hours, and when I returned to the shop and rinsed the parts I was happy with the change.

The outer rings of the hoops are secured to a wooden block (1½” cube) which has been drilled to allow a threaded rod to pass through. I fitted the parts together and realized I was about to skip an important step – staining the hoops.

Apply the stain before assembly.

Assembly requires many hands. I have two so I opted to deploy clamps to make up the deficit. Glue the outer rings to the four sides of the mounting block.

Perhaps it is the engineer in me but I added four screws to the top of the assembly along with the wood glue to connect the outer rings. Drill pilot holes and install the screws by hand or with the torque on the drill adjusted appropriately! Splits at this point will evoke feelings of great remorse.

Once the outer ring assembly has dried, insert and secure the inner rings using the hardware. Be careful drilling through the hoops as they tend to skate. I applied two coats of wipe on polyurethane at this point.

The best online tutorial I found for building lights like this one can be found at Petal & Ply and the author offers several helpful pictures.

No, I didn’t need the truck to haul the light, but I was short-handed and the tool box made a great stage.

My light design, using components from an existing light, is solid. The weight of the light is conveyed through the standard lamp components into the structurally mounted electrical box as it should be. Dangling this fixture from the cord alone as I see many on Pinterest doing does not seem a solid design.

We chose 40W equivalent decorative LED bulbs to complete the project. Michelle is delighted with her new light.

I was very careful hauling the ladder back to the truck.