diy project: filament lights



we were feeling inspired by all of the beautiful filament light bulbs we keep seeing! this week we took on making some of our own lights, something that sarah was in need of for her place. a trip to a lamp supply store provided a wealth of ideas, and we put together these simple light fixtures with these beautiful bulbs. it makes for a lovely and totally easy light installation! bbb craft sisters

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


what you need:

  • 40 or 60 watt filament light bulbs – Edison reproduction bulbs are some of our favorites because of the great shapes and quality of light, and are available at specialty lamp supply stores or houseofantiquehardware.com
  • lamp sockets – we used simple porcelain sockets much like those found on antiquelampsupply.com
  • lamp cord – you can use plastic covered cord (the least expensive, found at most hardware stores, and some can be bought with attached plugs to simplify the process) we used a rayon fabric covered cord found at specialty lamp supply stores or antiquelampsupply.com
  • wall plugs – a variety may be found at hardware stores – we used white Bakelite plugs much like the styles found on antiquelampsupply.com
  • wire cutters
  • needle nose pliers
  • screwdriver


what you do:

1. determine the length of cords you would like and cut your cord into equal pieces (or different lengths depending on your design). we decided to do several 12’ cords that can be plugged in and hung over a bookshelf or from hooks on the ceiling. note: the cord that we used has three wires inside of it. depending on the thickness of the cord that you use, there will be either two or three color-coded wires wrapped inside of the plastic or fabric outer covering of the cord. in this case, our lamp socket had 3 terminals (the place where you attach the wires, it is essentially a screw, also color coded), including a copper screw for the hot (black, red or yellow) wire, a silver screw for the neutral (white) wire and a third for the ground (green or green stripe) wire. for this amount of wattage the ground is not necessary. our wall plug had only the first 2 terminals so in this case you can attach the third ground wire with the white (neutral) wire to the silver screw.

2. take apart the wall plugs and lamp sockets with the screwdriver and thread the cord through the hole on the top part of each (this sounds more complicated, but often the plugs and sockets will come with a visual how-to for this).

3. cut a bit of the rayon fabric covering on the cord back so that you can get to the wires.

4. separate the wires and remove the insulation from the copper wire with the wire cutters by gently cutting through it and then pulling the insulation off. you should leave at least ½” of the un-insulated copper wire exposed. twist this copper wiring a bit so that it stays together.

5. using the needle nose pliers you will then wrap each length of exposed copper wiring clockwise underneath the proper terminal screw’s head in the wall plug.

6. once the wires are secure, screw the plug back together.

7. for the lamp sockets, do the same as you did with the wall plugs. there is often an additional ground terminal and the ground wire is noted with a green stripe.

8. once the wires are secure, screw the socket back together.

9. choose your favorite bulbs, and you are done!

we plugged them in to an outlet that is connected to a light switch, making it easy to turn them on and off. you can, however, buy a switch that can be plugged in to an outlet to be able to more easily turn the lights on and off.

  1. beautifully done article, love the choice of fixtures and bulbs.

  2. C.Alicia says:

    I’m speechless.

  3. Karen says:

    I am so excited to see this tutorial, can’t wait to try this!

  4. carolyn says:

    excellent article! a friend of mine recently purchased an edison bulb chandelier and i have been meaning to find a way to pull something like that together somehow. this is perfect!

  5. Abs says:

    This is amazing, I would love to try this but have no idea where to find similar fixtures in the UK. I have searched for them in the past. Great diy though!

  6. Leigh says:

    Did you make a string of these or is each light a separate light/cord/plug set?

  7. jen wheat says:

    These filament bulbs can make ordinary lamps look very cool too. We found some great vintage lamps and added these bulbs! The bulbs are pricy but look fantastic.

  8. Victoria says:

    This is so inspiring! I have been wanting to install some kind of light fixture in my home office, and I think this might be the answer! I think it would look really cool with the cords strung through semi-large holes drilled through a big piece of reclaimed wood…

  9. Lightopia says:

    considering the positioning of the lights (guessing at about eye level), the fact that they are not shaded, and the fact you are using several, I would recommend 15 watt bulbs. That should be easier on the eyes and electricity bill.

    Great use of lighting though!

  10. I love the design! Is there any way to connect them all into one single plug?

  11. Ari says:

    My question is the same as Leigh’s…is this one plug per bulb? I’d love to do this project but want to make sure I have enough outlets or outlet extenders. thanks

    1. grace says:

      hi ari and leigh

      i think it’s one plug per bulb, but i’ll ask anna. she just had a little one (yay!) so she may need a day or two to respond.

      grace

  12. bbbcraft says:

    hi guys,

    thanks for the question–grace is right, it’s one plug per bulb (we used an outlet extender).

    –bbbcraft sisters

  13. Tricia Rose says:

    Brilliant – thanks for a great new source~

  14. Summer says:

    I like the comment about using a lower wattage bulb. It would be easier on the eyes and more environmentally friendly…we’ve come so far! Beautiful!

  15. Roseanna says:

    Oh, I need to make some of these. So pretty around the bookcases. Thanks for the tutorial.

  16. Thank! I’ve been seeing alot of these and wondered for a long time about them since I don’t see any ready made ones here.

  17. Charteuse says:

    Where did you find the long beaker looking bulbs? They are not listed on houseofantiquehardware.com. Love this!

  18. How simple and beautiful.

  19. bbbcraft says:

    hi chartreuse,

    thansk! we actually tracked down that long slender bulb at a place called midwest lamp parts in chicago, 773.539.0628.

    -bbbcraft sisters

  20. i am trying this out asap :)

  21. Kate says:

    just in case people are interested, i managed to find everything online to make this at http://www.grandbrass.com, even the tubular lights!

  22. Connie says:

    too ambitious for me to try :(

  23. xtina says:

    Hi- which sockets @ Antique Lamp Supply did you get- high heat ones? Also, here they look kind of grey, but it looks like the only ones I can find are white…

  24. Laika says:

    questions: is this safe to keep outside – like if i did this for outdoor lighting?

  25. These are so fun! I’d be scared to make them myself, but it is definitely a project for my hubby!

    Thanks!

  26. Lianne says:

    Although I am surfacing an older post, would the cord kit from Urban Outfitters work and then just order some vintage-bulbs?

    http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=18624957&itemdescription=true&navAction=jump

    Thanks so much,
    Lianne

  27. blake says:

    Why is the ground wire used on the socket when the plug itself isn’t grounded?

  28. Andrew says:

    We’re going to do a bunch of these in our kids room (with shatter-proof bulbs), and we found the cords from http://www.nudcollection.com

    Thought others might want to know.

  29. daniel says:

    Hi All, we have a large selection of chandelier crystals if your intersted.

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