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DIYdiy projects

diy project: aunt peaches’ straw cluster chandelier

by Kate Pruitt


Believe it or not, I have a drawer full of old drinking straws — superfluous craft supplies are an occupational hazard. So I was thrilled to see this straw chandelier project come across my desk, because now I can use them for something beautiful! As those of you who saw Aunt Peaches’ coffee filter flowers know, she is a genius when it comes to creating elegant designs out of mundane materials; so good, in fact, that often you can’t tell what the material is at first glance. This straw chandelier is no exception. It reminds me of the garland light by Tord Boontje — I love the energy of the little straw bursts and the beautiful irregularity of the shape. It’s a perfect project for a rainy day and is a snap to build. Thanks for sharing, Peaches! — Kate

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

Materials

  • one bolt of 24-gauge wire
  • 120 drinking straws
  • 1 yard of 10-gauge wire (you can also use an old wire lamp shade or heavy gauge wire coat hanger)

Cost: $2.50 + light source (depending how you configure your base, this can attach directly to an existing fixture, including an ugly, old ceiling light)

Time: 3–5 hours, depending on size and scissor skills (80% of time is spent cutting straws)

Instructions

1. Cut straws into non-uniform sections, removing any bendy parts (is there a technical term for these?)

2. Use a small pair of scissors to make vertical incisions around the straw, leaving a 1-cm band in the middle. No need for precision here, just work toward the maximum number of incisions while leaving yourself something to grip on to later.

Note: you will find that straws from restaurants and soda fountain dispensers tend to be larger, sturdier and easier to cut than the ones you buy at the grocery store.

3. Run a 10” length of the 24-gauge wire through the remaining/unsliced tube and bend in half.

4. Use your fingers to twist the wire around itself, locking in the straw at one end.

5. Make your base by shaping the heavier 10-gauge wire into a loose spiral (wrapping around a sauce pot works well). You can also skip the spiral and go for a free-form bird cage shape, or just use and an old wire lamp shade. If you are hanging a pendant light through the base, use the lighter 24-gauge wire to form a star shape at the top, as this will allow you to slip the bulb in later.

Caution: whatever shape base you choose, just make sure there is at least a 6” open radius around the light bulb (you don’t want one of your straws touching a hot bulb!)

6. Wrap the twisted wire around your lamp base and secure. Note, 70% of the straws here are secured so that they remain suspended 4” off the base; the other 30% range from 1” to 10” to give it a more non-uniform, organic feeling.

VOILA!

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Comments

  • So… I’m assuming you do that straw and wiring set of steps for each of the 100+ straws and wire it to the big spiral at random intervals? I just felt like there was a missing step here or else I just need another cup of coffee. LOL This is a beautiful project though! Thanks for posting this :)

  • So creative! This reminds me of the Ikea PS Maskros pendant lamp a little only less bulky and more fun!! I may have to try it out, especially if I could find some bright yellow straws like the ones pictured in this post. (I have a small collection of vintage paper straws but I am not sure if they would be a good idea to use.)

  • I subscribe to Aunt Peaches’ blog and absolutely LOVE everything she does. Her resourcefulness is unmatched, she is the Macgyver of crafting. Her coffee filter flowers are on my list to try out. I will definitely save this one too. I think it would go great in a nursery.

  • so cool!!! LOVE it! but, when i first glanced at it i read ‘straw’ as in ‘hay’ not drinking straw. i had a brief panic about the crazy fire hazard, looked closer, and breathed a sigh of relief. too cool! i just might have to try this out!

  • Thanks for all the kind words y’all! What I would give to have a real life conversation and show you the smile on my face :)
    Just a quick note on above…
    *Kate –you are very perceptive! I bought the Boontje garland light years ago as a gift and when I saw it come together I thought “THIS IS TOO EASY!”…I love his stuff. That man’s work is like a walking, magical fairy forest. * Swoon*
    *Jai, yes, you just fasten them on in random intervals, which will vary a bit depending on the base structure you use. I like to make short/fat garlands and work from there. It’s a matter of preference and nibble finger skills.
    *ourlittlelovemest –I get my big fat yellow staws at Au Bon Pain (I know they are clustered around the US, check them out. Delicious pastries!)
    *Paulina J –thanks for the shout out, Lady!!! And I never thought about a nursery, what a great idea!

  • I *LOVE* this! But… is it safe? Or is it a fire hazard?

    Any recommendations for what would be safest for lighting?

    • april

      i promise you we wouldn’t run anything that hadn’t been tested first or that we knew was a fire hazard ;)

      that said, you’ll want to steer clear of using really strong bulbs here. one single string light should be fine. if you notice the straws get a little soft or bendy when you leave it on for long periods of time then you may want to consider moving down to a lower watt bulb.

      grace

  • IF you are concerned about the safety issue, I would recommend using an LED bulb if you can. That is going to be the most amount of light for the least amount of heat. It’s going to be a little pricier, but LED come in all types of bulb types these days.

  • This rocks! – I am definitely making one, it looks like a good therapy for a rainy day! I am often throwing out half chewed staws so now they will have a new life.
    thank you

  • *genius* and so very pretty – like a sparkler frenzy in frieze. i would definitely use LED lights here. no sheckles are spent on the building materials so why not put the environment (and safety) first? Thank you!

  • I LOVE this! I can see a bunch hanging from the trees in my backyard to light up a summer party. Better start now for next summer.

  • Ohhhhh my word! I LOVE this! I have an obsession with straws (probably because I never want to muss my lipstick) and I always have one stashed in my purse so I don’t have to do without. My fiance bought me glass straws earlier this year so I can cut back on my waste and it was such a thoughtful gift. But I digress… I have been looking for meaningful DIY projects for my wedding and this is definitely something I am going to incorporate. I can’t think of a better decoration for a straw lover like me. THANKS!!

  • Saw it, love it, doin it! I picture it hanging above the bar in the corner for my wedding reception. I cut one straw and found that it didn’t like to stay open. Any suggestions?

  • i am currently making this and let me just say-it is very tedious and takes way more than 5 hours! i would plan a few days for this one because no one has the patience to cut straws for so long in one sitting.
    i’m using store bought straws and i just tug on them extra hard after cutting, then they usually stay open.

  • Ally, I’m sorry to hear you are struggling with it. Regular tore-bought straws are definitely harder to cut than the ones you pick up next to the fountain dispenser (as mentioned above)…the faster and easier it is to slip your scissors each the straw, the quicker it goes. If you really want to use only store-bought, then the best I can suggest is using dainty manicure/embroidery scissors. Best of luck to you!

  • I’m working on one right now in translucent sky blue (store-bought) straws for my living room – loving it so far. I find the cutting almost meditative – it’s kind of fun. Then when I’ve got one snipped, I bend the snipped ends completely backwards, and then they stay put. I think doing some in different shapes and colors to hang in one room would be cool, and I might give that a try.

  • This is incredible! So creative and beautiful! Someday I
    want to make one of these I really like the yellow/white
    combination of colors too

  • They have the most beautiful bright pink straws at the coffee shop I frequent, and every time I throw one away, I think, “There has to be a way to reuse this!”
    Thanks for the tute!

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