A few of you actually called us on something that we said a while back for our BHG & Home Depot sponsored porch makeover project. In the early stages we mentioned that we were planning to whip up some twine mobiles among a slew of other projects but there was nothing of the sort in the big reveal. Of course we were allowed to change gears mid stream, but you can imagine how thrown we were when our little twine mobile project was a total bust and were back to the drawing board for a way to add a bit of ambiance to the corner of the porch. Sure things worked out in the end, but here’s the long circuitous route that we took to create those hanging candle holders that we used to gussy up our front porch:
A while back John and I had seen a really cool idea in ReadyMade magazine about using string, a balloon and fabric stiffener to create a one of a kind hanging light fixture. So when we were trolling Home Depot for something that we could hang to create interest on our porch, as soon as we laid eyes on some jute twine we decided there had to be a way to make some great woven mobiles using the same basic method. Sure twine is heavier than string and Home Depot didn’t happen to sell fabric stiffener (all of our tools, materials, and furnishings had to come directly from Home Depot so we couldn’t hit up a craft store for any supplies), but we were certain there was a way that we could make those twine mobiles work.
We decided to switch out the suggested “fabric stiffener” for indoor/outdoor urethane (in clear gloss) which we reasoned would stiffen the twine after we wrapped it around a balloon to create a nice round shape. We figured that it would harden to create a pretty strong shell around our mobiles so they would keep their globe-like shape and could happily live outdoors through rain or snow. First John blew up a balloon and tied the end of the twine to the end of it. Then we submerged the twine in urethane and wrapped it around the balloon to create an awesome woven orb.
It was definitely a messy job, but doing it outside over a huge piece of cardboard made it go pretty quickly and before we knew it we had a good thing going on.
Within about thirty minutes, we had three different sized twine mobiles hanging to dry in the garage. All we would have to do is pop those balloons after the twine stiffened up for a foolproof trio of textural mobiles to add interest and fun to our little porch project.
Or so we thought…
Yes, that’s me holding our beloved twine creations. And yes, they look like something a giant cat might cough up. Before we left town to celebrate Easter with the fam they were hanging happily in the garage, but somehow in the time that we were gone they experienced technical difficulties that caused them to collapse prematurely. We have a few theories about why this happened (#1: the urethane was so corrosive that it actually ate through the balloons causing them to pop before the twine had adequately dried therefore resulting in the demise of the orb shape, #2: the twine is just too heavy for the urethane to support in that globe-like shape, #3: light cover lanterns were our destiny so the universe intervened to sabotage our first project). Whichever was the case we were sure sorry when we came home to this sad state of affairs.
So it was back to Home Depot to totally redeem ourselves. Or fail miserably under pressure.
Our first thought was that we could save our twine mobiles (first stage of grief: denial) by sticking something round inside of them to stretch ’em back out into their old globe-like shape. So when we happened across these cheap-o bulb covers in the lighting department (just $4.99 a pop) we decided to snag three of them and give ’em a whirl. We intentionally went with the thickest ribbed glass we could find so they wouldn’t be too delicate for the great outdoors, and as soon as we loaded them into the car our conversation shifted from trying to save the hairballs, er twine mobiles, to making little hanging candle holders with our new discoveries. So we stormed back into Home Depot to grab some thin wire for stringing up our light covers.
But how did we get our bulb covers to hang? A little trial and error taught us that securing a ring of wire tightly around the neck of the glass cover was step one. We used our needle nosed pliers to cut the wire with about an inch of extra wire on each side. Then we twisted both ends around each other to create a strong, tight bond, so there was now a ring of wire that rested firmly beneath the lip of the glass (using our needle nosed pliers to tighten things certainly came in handy). Then we cut a super long piece of wire to create the “handle” that we’d use to hang our candle holders from the cup hooks that we installed in the ceiling. We secured this extra long piece of wire by looping it under the existing wire ring around the neck and twisting about an inch of wire on each side around the ring and itself to secure it in place. We had about a half inch of extra wire on each side so you can see how we tucked it tightly around the lip of the glass cover at a right angle, which seemed to help the handle from sliding around the ring (each side stayed more securely in place across from the other after we added this modification).
In short: a ring of wire around the neck of the glass bulb cover was the foundation that the loop of wire for hanging could be twisted around so the whole shebang could be strung up with a cute pillar candle inside. Each lantern took about five minutes to make and ours have been hanging happily on the front porch through rain and even a tornado warning for the past month.
In the end of course we love the added ambiance that our trio of candle-lit accents bring to the front porch project (all for just $20!), so although we’re sad that our little twine mobiles were a bust, we’re happy to say that the second time really was the charm for this project.
So how about you guys? Have you used anything unexpected (from the hardware store or even the grocery store) to amp up your home decor? Do tell.
Laura C. says
Sherry, you look so sad in that pic! I love the glass candleholders – beautiful.
We got creative in my youngest’s room once with ribbon. We attached a short pretty curtain rod to the wall, and looped various colors and lengths of ribbon around it. Made for interesting wall “art” that we really liked.
Also took smallish, thin planks of wood and wrapped ribbon in patterns to completely cover the front and sides, and attached a ribbon hanger on the back.
Thanks for sharing your decorating bust with us! It’s nice to know I’m not alone in such DIY projects seeming to work for others in magazines and not for me at home.
Just a thought, would (a maybe watered down) Elmer’s glue work for the twine project?
The bulb covers are so pretty! I really want to try something like that on my screened-in porch.
are you going to try the original idea again with the products listed in the article? maybe for the sunroom?
oh and i just voted! i hope you guys win, i really want to see what you do with the prize money!
Thanks for the vote! We need all the help we can get. As for trying the original project again with the correct materials, it’s definitely on our list (actually we’d like to create a large round light fixture for one of the guest bedrooms) but our list is always so long that it might be a while til you see it resurface. Stay tuned…
UMMMMM LOVE THOSE! That is a wonderful idea! I am a fan of using stuff that no one expects I have a glass cylinder in my bathroom for makeup brushes that I’ve filled with shiny bb gun pellets! It looks sleek and classy and no one knows! Super cheap too!
Oh, you look so sad Sherry. Fear not, your “plan B” worked just beautifully!!
kristen davis says
i bet the twine was too heavy when it was wrapped so much! you could’ve probably succeeded if you wrapped it less, and used fabric stiffener for the beginning phase, then after it was popped and outta there, sprayed ALOT with a clear poly spray. perhaps. :) who knows! oh well. really cute idea, nonetheless :)
I love the lanterns — I wish I’d seen that before I got married last year. I love your porch project — it’s easy for anyone to do, and makes good use of the $500 you were allowed. I’ve been voting and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you…
I’ve also seen the twine, elmers glue project done where they covered a small rectangle trash can with plastic wrap first to protect it. They put the watered down elmers in a bucket and let the twine soak for awhile, then proceeded to wrap it around the trash can, let it dry and slid it off. Looked really nice!
I do love the glass globes, excellent plan B.
I’ve been voting for you every day, good luck.
im confused, i thought this was a 48 hour project? if you left for the weekend of easter wouldn’t that be more than 48 hours?
Good question! The rules were that the completion of the entire project must be physically possible within 48 hours (aka: one weekend, so really it’s more like 24 hours since you wouldn’t work through the night both days). But the challengers were allowed to work on it in chunks of time (4 hours here, five hours there) to get it all done on their own schedule (to work around the weather, holiday/weekend plans, etc).
The idea is that anyone who wanted to transform their porch in a weekend could, but they could also do it a little bit at a time (just like we did). We think the time limit is just so that no one got too complicated and drummed up a plan that would take five months to execute (building a pergola for instance… they really wanted simple and do-able ideas). Hope it helps to clarify!
Sherry (& John)
I actually prefer the candle light covers for your porch – love the ambience!
However, those twine mobiles are awesome…I’m going to have to give those a try (with the right materials :) ).
Personally, I liked plan B better. The twine would of been interesting to see, though.
I love the lanterns too. I may try that for my screened in porch. I would love a YouTube how to video :)
The twine would work, but not with urathane. You needed to use liquid starch, and once that it was dry and stiff, then you could hit it with spray varnish to make it more weather proof, I think. White glue mixed 2 pts to 1 pt water would work well too.
Elizabeth Mann says
Love the twine idea. Thanks for the link. I might try that for our porch.
Thanks for posting this tutorial! I noticed that ingenious idea when you first posted the reveal, and LOVED it. (I even tucked it away in my “when I stay in one place for more than a few months” mental book!)
I’m planning to take on the same project and I found a great tutorial here: http://www.craftynest.com/2009/03/hemp-pendant-lamps/
Your final lanterns turned out great!
heather s. says
Hmmm…do they sell balloons at Home Depot? If not, wouldn’t this project be against the “rules” since everything you use has to be from HD? ;)
This was not at all what I was picturing when you kept saying twine mobiles since this isn’t what I picture when I hear the word ‘mobile.’ I like the glass lanterns much better.
Hey Heather S,
Good point! We actually were allowed to use a few accessories/low budget small items that weren’t from Home Depot- especially if we already had them laying around (for example, we used a Pellegrino bottle to prop the side table and Nicole used soda, napkins, plates and cups to dress up her adorable pink table). We reasoned that since we already had balloons laying around and they wouldn’t actually be in the final reveal (we would have popped them and removed them) that they would have been completely within the parameters of the challenge. Going to the craft store to seek out a fabric stiffening product seemed like it would have been pushing it a little though, because it’s not a small everyday item that we already had around the house. Hope it helps!
lylah ledner says
Way cool idea! Love it~
You two are so stinkn’ inspiring!
Would a bouncy ball have worked?
That’s so funny because we debated whether a beach ball would have worked. As long as the item could have been popped or deflated and removed after the twine hardened it probably would have been just the thing! And Kristen’s idea to spray the twine with clear poly spray to further reinforce it is definitely a great idea as well!
i used safety cup hooks (the safety kind that have a lever that latches closed) on my deck railing to hang small lanterns from, that way if the wind started blowing they wouldn’t get knocked off their perch! worked great. i also gave one to my sister in law to hang her holiday decorations from on her front door.
Lesson learned Sherry! You need to make fabric stiffener a regular fixture in your cute laundry station. That way it will be layin’ around the next time you need it!
The glass candleholders are really cute! Great idea!
since we’re sort of on the topic of lighting, can i ask you guys what kind of light bulbs do you use? your lights look so white and makes everything look so natural in your kitchen.
We love compact fluorescent bulbs and have found that some of the most natural ones are labeled “soft white” as opposed to “bright white.” Of course now we’re in love with the idea of LED lights since they’re even more energy efficient and long-lasting, but they’re still pretty pricey and hard to find in a bright enough wattage. Hope it helps!
my favorite unexpected use is to hang placemats as wall art/decor….Pier 1 has the best ones if you get the textured natural looking ones, love them for $3 each!
I made a lantern just like yours from the globe which I bought at Home Depot. I had it hanging on a shepherd’s hook by our patio, but moved it to my front porch before it rained. I like it a lot. Thanks for the idea.
Laura Beth says
Hey Sherry! This is probably a VERY dumb question but what did you use to hang your lanterns from? Did you just use a little hook that you screw into the patio ceiling? I’m off to Home Depot right now to get my materials to try to copy your beautiful lanterns. This will be my VERY FIRST DYI project… you inspire me! :-)
Hey Laura Beth,
No it’s a good question! We actually just picked up some super cheap ceiling hooks at Home Depot (they can easily be screwed into the ceiling and they’re built to hold weight from below without shifting or coming loose). Good luck with your little lantern project! We’d love to hear how it all turns out!
wrap & glue the twine to the glass globes.
Things happen for a reason. Love the glass bulbs! :)
If nobody posted it before… :)
here you go!
wow, I am in love with your blog!! I am truly inspired to really try out some of the projects that I have set on the back burner…
Thanks for working so hard on keeping the blog going!
i LOVE this! i actually did the something very similar this weekend. i used small votives from the dollar store, 4/$1 to be exact, i wrapped the wire around the lip and i used fishing line to hang them from underneath our patio umbrella. i used 8 total in varying lengths.it looks so cute!
I actually like the bulbs better than the twine idea. Cleaner or something. I used a pool noodle, a curtain rod and a blanket to make a headboard. That’s pretty unexpected!
I have those same earrings! LOL. Just purchased them from good ol’ Target. :)
Brandy Smith says
Ok, so that really did seem like a great idea! I was excited about it while reading it, getting my wheels turning in my head, and rooting for y’all at the same time. I still give you an A for coming up with the idea to use light fixtures!
Ok, so I re-did my dining room table. I posted some before and after phones(I now you love those). That was not as easy as I thought it would be, but turned out alright! Check it out and I am up for any suggestions!
I’m a visual arts student and the Canberra Institute of Technology. Currently I am working on a piece for my final assessment and I have been making balls of sting just like your attempt.
If you wanted to make them again, try using PVA glue mixed with a little water. As you coat the balloon make sure the twine or string runs through the glue. They come out pretty sturdy but I am unsure if a candle in them would not end up being a fireball.
I love plan B! Perfect for an outdoor party and so easy! Ill be linking.
That’s a happy mistake! I plan on copying right away…there’s a good variety of bulb covers out there at super cheap prices. I’m gonna get out there and get some before this catches on!
Just saw this on Apartment Therapy today: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/lighting/how-to-make-hemp-pendant-lamps-085324
YAY! I’m sorry about all the nagging, but I AM glad it got you to post about these! I’m making them this weekend to help in making my backyard oasis bar mitzvah party-ready.
And “giant hairballs” made me almost pee in my pants. thanks for that too!
Mrs. Jones says
That looks really cool!
Kimba @ A Soft Place to Land says
I love this idea! Seriously brilliant.
I linked to it from my post today.
Oh, these are adorable! Sorry for all the trouble it but turned out amazing… Linked to it on my blog!
Erin Fudge says
Hey guys! I love the stuff you do! I’ve been redecorating the offices for my church lately and I was trying to think of something to hang in the front window and I decided to make a few of these and they’re a hit! I’m going to be making more of them.
Also, we were inspired by your den redesign and putting your office corner so we decided to move the things out of our guest room that were “office” and use an unused formal dining room for our office. If you want to take a peek at our progress check this out: http://freshfudge.blogspot.com/2009/05/remodelredesign.html
It’s definitely a work in progress but thanks for your inspiration!
Just wanted to let you know that I was at Hobby Lobby this weekend and they have rounded glass vases/candleholders (like a light fixture shape) for .99 and they were on 50% discount this past week, so only .50 each. They would work perfect for this project I think! I bought 2 and filled with some river rock and stuck a citronella candle inside for the patio, but can certainly imagine them strung up as well, just like yours- in fact it’s what I first thought of. I’ll take some pictures and stick them on my blog Monday, of what I did with them- nothing diffucult or expensive.
Run out to the Hob Lob for those of you interested in making this great project!
Great tip! We actually don’t have a Hobby Lobby here in Richmond but hopefully others will run right out and snag some of those fabulously cheap glass candle holders.
I didn’t have Hobby Lobby when I lived in Michigan, but I am HOOKED now that I’m out here in Colorado. It’s the best thing ever… crafts and home decor all in one- dangerous! I just posted on my blog a picture of what I bought and your lanterns that I had in mind when I bought them :)
I just saw a project like this on TV. They used a beach ball and wrapped it with Rafia dipped in wood glue. It worked for them.
Loved Plan B. Purchased the materials to make them myself, but did not want to walk outside each night to light the candles. Bought solar candles to see if they will work.
i love this idea! Question…if i decided to try to make the hemp version, can they really be hung off a porch? What about weather/rain?
I remember making Christmas tree ornaments as a child with Niagara starch (dissolved in less water than was called for), cotton rug/crochet yarn and balloons. As the empty forms were rather fragile, I doubt they lasted more than a few years. By that time we were on to something else.
And INDOOR mobile made this way might be fun, especially hung near a window so that the shadow play would be interesting.
As I was reading the initial description I was surprised that the balloon lasted long enough to finish the wrapping, as the solvents in the goo would surely dissolve it. Since there were restrictions to what Home Depot could provide …
Now as I think of it, since HD does carry laundry-related items, if they carried detergents, then expecting them to stock fabric starch isn’t all that far-fetched either.
On the whole, as candle lanterns, the glass globe idea is much safer. Reaching in to light them, even with a long matchstick, and maintaining an upright candle when completed, must be a challenge.
Liz Bond says
This is a great idea…as far as lighting the candles why not just use tea lights and one of those long bbq lighters? Great job guys!