Hanging Lamp

As I’ve read over various blogs and tutorials, I’ve noticed people have a tendency to give background before the project when all I’m really interested in is the project. So I’m going to talk about the project first and then share my backstories and deep thoughts afterward.

From a standing torchiere floor lamp such as this one featured at Bed, Bath and Beyondfloor lamp

I made a hanging swag lamp and a sign holder for less than $20, but I’ll elaborate on that afterward.

The first step was to completely dismantle the lamp that I purchased for $8.00 from a thrift store. It was black with a frosted plastic shade at the top and came assembled in several segments, which easily came unscrewed beginning with the light bulb at the top.

The final step to dismantling it was to disconnect the wires from the socket. As I am not a certified electrician, I made careful note of which wire was connected to the gold screw and which to the silver. It might not matter, but I would hate to have a house fire show me that it did.

That left me with a heavy base, four threaded-end sections of thin pipe, a 12 foot section of chord, a light socket and shade, and several other pieces to hold the shade to the top.

The first step was to drill holes in the end of a section of pipe. Strictly speaking, the lamp could have hung from the funnel-shaped support piece, but I liked the look of adding the pipe. The holes were 1/8″ in diameter and directly across from one another so that the chain could be attached.

Then I used a cutting blade on the grinder (bolt cutters would also work) to cut a section of chain for hanging it. I believe it was a section of about 3′.

The cutting blade was used again as I opened a section of chain to attach to the section of pipe with the holes in the end. There are other ways of attaching it and additional kits that can be purchased, but this is how I did it.

Then it was a matter of changing out the twist-on switch light socket for a pull chain. This step isn’t essential, but it was the style I wanted. The change was fairly simple. I purchased the pull-chain socket from Home Depot for around $5 and then threaded the wire through the chain, the length of pipe and and the funnel-shaped support before wiring it in exactly as I had unwired the twist-on switch socket (wire connected to silver screw back to silver screw and wire connected to gold screw back to gold screw).

With that completed, my task was to beautify the lamp shade. I bought a few beads and jewelry making supplies from a craft store and then proceeded to measure the distance around the base (formerly the top) of the shade and divide it by the number of dangling objects I had supplies to make. They ended up being spaced about every inch and a quarter and there are 28 total. (I used some beads left over from other projects and they are a mixture of glass and acrylic).


Around the base, I drilled tiny holes (remember it is plastic, though with the right tools it could be done in glass or acrylic) using a 1/16″ drill bit. Then I assembled the four different types of pendants using jump rings and three different lengths of head pins.


After putting all the pendants on the shade and cutting and applying some designs crafted on my vinyl cutter, the shade was complete and the lamp ready to assemble.

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The final step was just reversing the process of taking the lamp apart to put it back together.

That left me with a base and several lengths of pipe. I could have recycled them, but I decided to make a sign post instead for all those signs I don’t have.

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The process took less than ten minutes.

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  1. screw the base and lengths of pipe back together
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  3. add a top
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  5. drill a hole and screw in a cup holder

Now the part I must include in order to be conversational. I made the lamp for my daughter for Christmas. She loves to read in bed (and in the car . . . and on the sofa . . . and on the floor . . . and at school . . . and at the table . . . and instead of participating in forced family fun), but the light switch for her room is on the other side of the room. She’s the second child. For the first, we bought a reading lamp, but he’s not really allowed to use it due to its potential as a fire hazard.

Logically, a lamp seemed the best choice, but not one that could tip over and ignite the carpet, so I searched several places for a hanging lamp. Unfortunately, apparently their widespread use went out with the 70’s and so I couldn’t find something that I liked for a price I was willing to pay. IKEA had some, but didn’t meet the above qualifications.

So I decided to make one for her. Realistically, it probably cost more than $20 when time and supplies are fully calculated, but the vinyl was scrap and most of the beads on the pendants were from beads I already had from other projects. My favorite are the little high-heeled shoes. I bought a package online of about 200 in assorted colors. I only really needed the red, so now I have a bunch of different colors just waiting for use. The pull chain and hanging chain I had on hand as well. The tear-drop shaped crystal on the pull chain was something my daughter bought to go on a necklace, but whereas it is approximately the same size as her head, I thought it would serve better on her lamp.

I’m apparently a bit of a hoarder – not like a dead-cat lady hoarder – but I just hang on to things that are likely to be useful.

For example, the leaf top on the sign post was a curtain rod end. I don’t think I ever used it as a curtain rod. I don’t know if there were ever two rod ends as there should have been. You can tell by the color that it’s something I’ve had since the late ’90’s.  The cup holder had to be painted because although it was once very likely brass, it was used for hanging Christmas lights on the exterior of my sister’s house. When she repainted, the cup hooks all came down and I saved some of them. And although it the parts to make it were just surplus from the intended project, I couldn’t just get rid of them, which means I will probably now have to make some signs to go with the sign post, which means I will probably use even more vinyl scraps and some of the scrap lumber I’ve saved from other projects.