Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jam Jar Pendant Lamp Tutorial (sorta)

We succeeded in our efforts with the jam jar lights that I'd been dreaming of earlier. I have to say this was my idea, Stefan's manpower, and some know-how contributed by a friend with electrical training (thanks Eric!). We think they're pretty cute in the kitchen.
This was a good summer vacation project as it didn't require much money (the most expensive things were the energy-saver bulbs), but it did require a LOT of time. This was due to our inexperience, even though we did work visually from the links in this post. Things you'll need:
  • access to the fuse box for the socket you're working in so you can shut off the power when you fiddle. The light switch alone is not enough. 220 or 120 volts is nothing to mess with.
  • jars with lids that screw tight
  • energy saver bulbs that will fit inside said jars
  • awl
  • wire cutter
  • electrician's screwdriver
  • electrician's cable cutters/splicers
  • raw cable
  • bulb connectors*
  • ceiling hook
  • cable hook thingies*
  • electrical connector pieces*
  • decorative casing(s) for the ceiling
* I barely remember what these were in German, let alone know what they are in English, so you'll have to look at the pictures to see what I mean. This is where this becomes a 'sorta' tutorial. I take no responsibility for your safety, so check with a trained electrician.

IMPORTANT: because the bulb is essentially encased in a thick glass jar and lid, there is no way for the heat generated to escape. This is why energy saver bulbs are essential. They generate far less heat than a regular bulb. You wouldn't want a jar shattering everywhere!

We first used our wire cutter to cut the large center hole in the jar lid. This will be where our bulb and it's connector will go through. Our bulb connector had two rings you could tighten on either side of the lid. Some will just be bigger on the inside of the jar to keep the jar/shade from falling off the bulb.
We then used an awl to punch ventilation holes in the lid. This was deemed optional, but we wanted to be extra safe. Because the lamps hang so far from the ceiling to be near the table, we don't see a ring of speckled lights on the ceiling (which I was actually hoping for, but whatever).
Now it gets a little tricky. There's some stuff going on inside the bulb connector's casing to get the white raw cable connected. I didn't get a picture of that. We had this explained to us by the salesperson in the hardware store. I didn't understand the technical German. She apparently forgot to sell us one piece, so when it didn't work, our friend, Eric, told us what to get. So you're on your own for this part.
Because we had 3 lamps (1 wasn't bright enough and 2 looked stupid somehow), we had to get them connected to meet the one connection point in the ceiling. This is where you need the electrician's cable cutters to shave off the casing of your raw cable and connect the insides to a sharing box that is then connected to the ceiling lines. Before you connect everybody, first slide the decorative cover on, then slide on cable hook holder thingies (see picture) to each pendant's cable. Screw a little hook into the ceiling right where you want your pendants to hang from. The hook will carry the weight of your pendants. Slide the cover up over all the hook and electrical gadgetry and you're finished!
We had to cut a wider hole in the bigger decorative cover to accommodate the three pendant cables. You'll notice we actually have 2 covers on the ceiling. This was because our ceiling connection wasn't centered over our table. The little cover just has the basic ceiling connection in it. The bigger one is to hold all the other stuff from 3 pendant cables, hook, etc.

The only thing I don't like about our project is that the energy saver bulbs cast a blue-ish light when it's dark out and we don't have enough natural light to counterbalance. I'm not sure if bulbs are made that don't do that, but if so, we don't have them in our area of Germany. I suppose you could paint the jars with a thin coat of paint to offset this, but it doesn't bother us that much. I would also wonder about any off-gassing of paint that close to a heat source.

Now to get a real cushion on the bench and some art on the walls!

PS: If you like the look but don't want to do it yourself, you can buy them here, starting at 45- Euro each. Pendants like mine start at 72- Euro each. So mine is worth 216- Euro, yet...not! DIY rocks!

PPS: Here's a better photo as of April 2013:


Andrew Jones said...

Well done, gang. By the way, we need to catch up. Phone date?

Juliette said...

Yeah, give us a ring when you're home w/H and the little man. Same bat number!

Meg said...

LOVE this idea!

Wanda said...

Cool, but have to eat some marmelade first;)

Claire Mercado-Obias said...

Genius! I collect these Bonne Maman jars =)

Traveling Mama said...

Genius, girl! I love it!! Now I cannot wait to see what you have for us next!

Allison said...

DIY projects are the best... plus these are really super cute!

Saw your post featured on Decor8... props to you!

Holly said...

Thank you so much! I once saw this in a store in NYC but wasn't brave enough to copy without details.. lovely blog you have.

Leililaloo said...

This is a great tutorial! As is your blog, i'll be back and thanks!

Amy {The Red Chair Blog} said...

Very cute! Love your comments in the tutorial pics too.

icandy... said...

Oh my~ how cute are these?! I would love to make them for my retro kitchen!! Thanks so much for the great idea!
Happy day!

Vintage Pendants said...

out standing work these pendants and the place where these are situated are most beautiful

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