DIYdiy projects

diy project: brenna’s paper capiz shell chandelier

by Brenna

i love wax paper for packing lunches; i wrap sandwiches in a piece of wax paper and tie it like a present with a little cotton string. it’s so much better looking than a
plastic bag. wax paper comes in handy for more things than i realized, like rolling it up to use for a funnel, or how about rubbing a piece of wax paper on the top of your
shower curtain rod to cut down on that terrible screeching in the morning…problem solved. but who knew that if you iron layers of wax paper together it looks remarkably similar to a capiz shell? this discovery brought me to today’s project: the faux capiz chandelier. hung over your dining table, or outside at an outdoor dinner party, it is an easy solution to a dramatic light fixture and will look phenomenal in either setting. i hope you enjoy making your own as much i did! –brenna

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


– hanging planter basket
– white spray paint
– ribbon
– scissors
– 1-2 rolls wax paper
– 2 big pieces of parchment paper
–  iron
– hot glue gun & glue sticks
– circle cutter (i didn’t have any luck with a “punch”)
– cutting mat


1.  spray paint your planter basket. let dry.

2.  start making the capiz shells. lay out the two pieces of parchment paper on your ironing board or on a clean dish towel on the floor or table. (if you use your floor or
table, just make sure it wont be damaged by the heat of the iron)

3.  cut three pieces of wax paper about the same length. mine were about 18”. sandwich the three pieces of wax paper between the parchment paper. the parchment paper allows the wax to stay within the layers of paper, helps it stick together, and gives the wax paper a smooth finished surface.

4.  iron the paper sandwich on a low setting. remove the layered wax paper from between the parchment, and repeat.

5.  set the circle cutter to cut 2 ½ inch circles. with the circle cutter, cut circles from the layered wax paper on your cutting mat. it helps to tape the wax paper down to
the mat.

6.  cut ribbon pieces and attach the ribbon to the planter basket. the length of the ribbon will depend on the method of attachment to the basket… (single or double strand). my lengths were between 7 (single) and 16 inches (doubled). you can attach them to the basket either by hot gluing the end of a single strand to the basket wire, or by folding the ribbon in half, and creating a knot over the wire. start at the bottom, and work your way up.

7.  once you finish one tier of ribbon, attach the capiz shells to the ribbon with a tiny dot of hot glue near the top of each shell. i alternated two and three shells on each ribbon and only attached shells to every other ribbon. overlap the shells by about ¼”. finish an entire lower tier, then move on to the next higher tier.

8.  once you cover the hanging basket you are done! you can attach a simple bulb of you want this to be a source of light. hang in your desired location, stand back and

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  • I did this once on Trading Spaces, but I used real capiz shells and one of those metal forms from a glass chandelier that I found at a thrift store for $5.99 and that worked pretty well. But, this is MUCH better! Love this!

  • YES! Brilliant DIY!

    Im not a huge fan of the shell lamps–but I do want to apply this same technique to fringe using different shades and layers of grey.

  • Now don’t I feel stupid paying $100 for a real shell one… seeing how often i like to change things wax paper would have been soooo much more economical. Just a thought though – if you were to melt some pale crayons between the layers of wax paper it would give it colour. Must try soon.

  • i have an ugly light in my living room (rental apartment) that I might just have to cover with this! Love this idea! I’ve been trying to figure out how to emulate this look for awhile :) Thanks for the great tutorial.

  • Really nice work! I’ve always admired how chic these shell lights look in the evening when they’re softly lit.

  • One question– how to add light? I don’t see any cords sticking out. Any suggestions for simple fixtures that wouldn’t overwhelm this beautiful chandelier?

  • Wow! This is incredible. What a fantastic DIY project! Wax paper really does look like capiz shells, who would have thought?

  • Such a great idea, thanks for the tutorial… I was just wondering why you only attached the shells to every other ribbon?

  • Just beautiful! I wonder how much these “shells” weight… It would be worth trying with nylon maybe, to get a floating shells sort of look.

    I also second the “how to attach the light” question!

  • SO SMART!! I love this!! We used to make “stained glass windows” with wax paper, crayon shavings, and an iron when I was little. I had completely forgotten about wax paper’s more crafty uses!

  • thank you so much for all of the compliments!
    to answer your questions…

    eve- i think the crayon idea is great, it would be pretty to add color. you could also try ironing a piece of colored tissue between the wax paper to add color.

    courtney- the number of shells depends on the size of your basket. i probably used close to 5 hundred. sounds like a lot of cutting but it goes quickly.

    kate- i added a simple bulb on a wire type light fixture from ikea. i covered the chain on the plant basket with white muslin, and wrapped the light cord inside the fabric to hide it.

    emily- the ironing fuses the three layers of wax paper together by melting the wax. this creates a more rigid translucent paper.

    ava- i attached shells to every other ribbon because it looks cleaner and less crowded that way.

    thanks again for all of your kind comments!

  • looks very realistic + pretty! i’m all for the DIY, but considering these lamps can be found very inexpensively, is it really worth the time + effort trade-off to make your own? hmmm. i wonder too about how well they’ll hold up, versus a “real” version. again, looks very pretty!

  • Great DIY! Where did you get your circle cutter? Craftstore, I’m guessing…for about how much?

  • What width ribbon did you use, Brenna? It looks like about 1/2″, judging from the dimensions of the circles you specified. Small bones, I know…

  • Great project. Thanks for telling us the materials and giving us all the needed instructions. It’s great to be informed. The pics are great too and thanks for sharing all the info and the article. Thanks again.

  • wowie-zowie…..I have been pricing these for a long time and the one I wanted topped $400…..this has potential!

  • Wow. This is a stunner. I have always wanted something like this. Amazing adaptation of the concept and so easy to follow.

  • Your blog is amazing !!! Such a great inspiration to me.
    Im a BRAZILIAN new interior design blogger.

    Thanks for the lovely posts.
    bye bye

  • This looks beautiful! I suggested doing this to the hubs (we broke the glass shade in our dining room moving some furniture in the very first day we got the house), and he thinks it is beautiful. However, he is wondering if there’s any way it would be a fire hazard? We live in a high-hazard fire area, and get a bit paranoid about these things. Any feedback would be appreciated!

  • Hate to be a kill joy for such a dynamic creative resourceful idea but…………
    isn’t wax paper made with a petroleum product (wax) that could lend itself to a potential hazard (FIRE!), from say a light bulb or candle flicker, etc? unlike real Capiz Shells?
    Sorry to put a wrench in your fantastic idea but really has this been thought about?
    Love your site by the way!

  • Wow, what an amazing idea! I’m trying to maintain my ‘design graduate’ image on a budget whilst decorating my new flat, and this little project will be fab! Thank you!

  • My grandma has one of those in her sewing room from the 70s! Although not handmade, still cool looking! I wonder if she’d let me borrow hers? hehe–love this idea!! thanks :)

  • If I were to use this outside (I have a covered deck), I am thinking I could fasten a pillar candle with a flameless insert to act as a light source? Does this sound feasible?

  • If you use a compact fluorescent bulb, you don’t have to worry about too much heat. They sell them now with translucent glass covers so the light diffuses more like incandescent.

  • This is awesome looking. And great, too, because real capiz shell fixtures can be noisy if you have a breeze (esp in a bedroom w/a fan) and this one wouldn’t be noisy. Totally brilliant!

  • this is great, I have been looking for an chandelier for my new work space, and really I much rather take an hour or so out (hopefully!) and make this. I just saved time hunting for a bargain, and saved money. LOVE!

  • SO beautiful…and genius, I might add!! I would like to see or read about how you rigged up the light bulb inside. I have an ugly hanging light fixture in my dining room (rental) that I would LOVE to replace with this if I can!

  • HOW BRILLIANT ARE YOU??!! If you can do this with wax paper sister I’ll follow you anywhere!

  • I wonder if sb at etsy could start “mass producing” these at aa reasonable price ;) I would love to have such a chandelier

  • Great idea! I read a while back in This Old House Magazine about the capiz shell lights from World Market–which looked great in the magazine photo. I went to World Market’s site and read the reviews where some customers complained that the shells broke easily and the fixture got tangled when they hung it up. It was only $70, but when I checked it out further at their store–even the one hanging on display had cracked and broken shells. This is a wonderful alternative; I can’t wait to try it. PS-I was in Walmart this week, and they seem to be clearing out the Martha Stewart craft supplies. Her circle cutter was marked down at my local Walmart.

  • I think that this is one of the most beautiful DIY here on Design*Sponge.

    I’ve been looking for some sort of chandelier for my bedroom and to be honest I never liked Capiz Shell chandeliers maybe because they always seemed to beachy? But this! This one is STUNNING!

    I cannot wait to make it! Thank you soooo much for the tutorial.

  • really, really clever, creative and so on trend. fantastic tutorial, and something I HAVE to escallate up my ‘to do’ list. I LOVE IT!!

  • oo oo oohh
    at last a project I can use those cruddy old hanging baskets that are hanging around!! And I love love love the idea of putting coloured (see I am Australian) tissue paper in between!
    This is on my very very long to-do list!
    Thanks a squillion!!

  • Awesome idea. I’ve been trying to make one, but can’t seem to find a good basket or frame for it…any ideas???

  • I am a little concerened with the paper by hot lights, the paper can easily catch on fire other then that i think it looks gorgeous!!!

  • Love this DIY project, but I don’t understand how to attach the light bulb. Help me please!

  • I just finished making this and am in love! It’s simple, but time consuming. After I had spray painted my basket, I found a nice white one at my local garden shop. Much cleaner. I also used a die cutter for my circles and they are perfect! You can cut around 10 at a time and was a breeze. The ribbon was my only problem. I kept underestimating how much I was going to need and returned several times for more. I probably used 30 yards. Thanks for such a great project! By the way, the way that the light hangs into the basket, it doesn’t even come close to touching any of the parts. I suggest a light with low wattage.

  • I love this!! I have a question though about your ribbon lengths. Did you use one continuous ribbon length on each level. Also how many layers of ribbon on there? Is there just a layer for every horizontal wire on the basket? Can’t wait to try this!

  • brenna i love your project its great!!!i live in pakistan..i dunno where to find the parchment paper so i only used wax paper but they dunt stick together.

  • What size planter did you use? I am useing a punch. I just put card stock behind it. It help so the wax paper does not stick in the punch. I had a hard time with the circle cutter. I bought the Martha Stewart one and did not find it to easy.

  • Beautiful! I love how this came out, I love lighting. I have always wanted to replica the shell look, thank you!

  • Hi there I was wondering if I could apply paint on the wax paper and it would still be slightly translucent, I am far from home now but I plan on trying this chandelier as soon as i get home and just saw the marble paper video and wondered if I could do something to color texturize the paper and it would still let light through, thx! awesome site!

  • I just love capiz chandeliers. I definitely want to try to make this wax paper version. Speaking of wax paper, it is used for baking in ovens, so I feel that it should be safe for a project like this.

  • I love this! I still haven’t hung the light in mine, but I wanted to share how I cut the circles. I don’t have a circle cutter/punch at home so I used my Mom’s CRICUT machine. As long as I kept the speed on a slower setting it worked perfectly and didnt jam. I could cut tons of circles at once!

  • Just finished making this! This time of year, it is hard to find wire baskets (will probably go online to get some more), but plan on making a bunch of these to hang around my outdoor wedding space and then give to the bridesmaids as a gift! I have plenty of time and what a money saver!!! Thank you!

  • I love this! I also will be making several of these to hang up in trees/tent for my outdoor wedding. Love the idea!

  • I live in Argentina and would like to try this DIY because it is stunning!! But I have a question…what is exactly wax paper? I just can’t seem to find it here. Thanks!!

  • For a smaller version you could probably use a bamboo embroidery hoop and clear nylon thread… Then stagger the lengths from longest to shortest… I would think that would look cool! This is Amazing… I want to try!

  • I decided to tackle this project over the long weekend. I found a couple of time savers that have been SO wonderful. The first is that I ordered pre-cut 2.5 diameter parchement paper circles from Amazon. They are actually a baking supply. I decided that I could deal with the look of parchment (vs. waxed paper) if someone cut the circles for me. Secondly, I found those glue dots…specifically Zots brand. No messy glue gun. I have been able to complete two of three tiers in just a few hours and it looks spectacular. Can’t wait to hang it up! Thank you Brenna!

  • Where do you find wire hanging baskets with the cross sections? The only ones I’ve been able to find are just solid with no where to attach the ribbon. This is beautiful and I’d really like to try it.

  • Hello there! Thanks for this excellent idea. I like one person’s idea of coloring with crayon in between.

    Can you tell me how it is holding up over time? Is the paper still melted together and has the heat affected it in any way? I would like to make one, but want to be sure it will last after all the work.


  • Just to answer some questions I see were left unanswered (I saw this done a few years ago and still love it). Also like several ideas of making it so can be of diff colors. Another way to do that is to paint with glass paint; it isn’t just for glass anymore ;-)

    I like the filiment (otherwise known as clear fishing line) so would be just scads of “shells.”

    Don’t recall who asked so will just answer questions I recall.

    Wax paper is not generally used IN an oven unless on very low heat, it’s a product of clear paper with wax on one or both sides. Like to put cookies on to cool and they won’t stick after cooking them.

    If you are in the USA, Home Depot and Sam’s Clubs sell the baskets with the several wire crossing; they may already have moss in them as that is their use-planting in a bed of moss basically. Easiest to find in the spring since they are for hanging plants outside.
    But I think you could get embroidery hoops, as someone mentioned, and then use wire from a craft store (or even planting type wire at about 20 – 28 guage) to make your own cross wiring. Or just use the wire to make the whole thing.

    It is very cheap to purchase a light kit at Home Depot or a hardware store. It’s basically a wire in a socket with a plug to plug in to an outlet and you add a light bulb. Simply hang it from the chains just below them cuz you don’t want the wire to get too hot either.

    As someone else noted, you could use the light bulbs that don’t create much heat and are very cheap on the electic bill, or use a large Christmas tree light bulb, which could be in diff colors for a diff look. And yes, the candles that function on bateries would work with this, but would prob need more than one as they aren’t real bright.

    I do a lot of electical and substitution in my art/craft and it’s pretty simple really.

    If I can be of help to anyone, just let me know :-) @ rockmist@gmail.com

  • I absolutely love your idea and can’t wait to try it! I did something similar with a tomato cage, tissue paper, wood stain, shoe polish and dimensional paints. I know it sounds weird, but I was trying to make my own” faux goat skin” Moroccan lamp. It worked out great. I’d send you a picture but I don’t see a place to post. Thanks!

  • Please PLEASE let me know where I can find/order this hanging planter! I can’t fidn one anywhere!


  • Such a great look and so many nice comments. What a nice group of girls you all seem so happy to share. One question. Any thought on what you could use to make a rectangle one. Thank you!

    • If you have access to a Cricut Die Cutting Machine, you can set to the size and cut circle, square, or whatever shape you wish.

  • Where did you find the right hanging basket? I can’t find any with horizontal wire. Please write back!

  • hi all!
    just a thought, i see a lot of questions about where to find the hanging basket, or what to use as a substitution/ different shape…
    try a thrift store lamp shade… take off the cover, turn it upside down, and you are left with a frame, maybe add a horizontal row of wire if need be… i think it would work if you cant find a hanging basket.
    good luck!!

  • Love this idea! I want to have some of these at my wedding in May of next year. The only problem I’ve ran into is that my three layers of wax paper aren’t sticking together. I’ve tried using a higher heat setting on the iron but that didn’t work either. Does anyone have any tips for me? I’d appreciate it!

  • Brenna, you have inspired me. I really wanted this light from West Elm but don’t love the price. http://www.westelm.com/products/large-rectangle-hanging-capiz-pendant-w425/?pkey=e%7Ccapiz%7C3%7Cbest%7C0%7C1%7C24%7C%7C1&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-Common%20Rule%20Top%20Wide%20Kitchen-_- . I have purchased a couple tall rectangle baskets that I am going to strip down to the wire and add more, then paint and add a sewn string of faux capiz shells. I still have to figure out how to attach a hanging light to it (we do not have a fixture where I want to put the light). Wish me luck!

  • I wonder how pretty a stain glass look would be by doing the old melting crayons trick??? I think this is such a pretty project! I could even hang it on my shade arbor outside!!!

  • Excited to do this for my kitchen chandelier light fixture! thank you for such an amazing (and economical!) idea!! :)

  • @Brittany- This happened to me too when I bought a brand from costco by Kabnet- So I took it back and bought the more tradional brand at Walmart and yes it works!!

  • I’ve searched high and low for the hanging basket with no luck. Home Depot, craft stores, local nurseries, everywhere! I don’t know if I trust myself to make it out of wire either. The search continues…Also, I recommend a high quality circle cutter. I bought one from Michael’s that was off-brand and it was awful and just cut only part of each wax circle.

    • I happened on the hanging baskets at dollar tree, California. It needs a wire added but otherwise perfect for this project

      • One thing I’ve discovered about Dollar Tree. They have an amazing array of products but the selection is not the same at each store. I shop at one that has great book lights. When I needed one in Austin, TX, I search the town over and ended up paying a whole lot more at a different kind of store.

        • DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT buy cheap wax paper from Dollar store. It is crap! What a waste of time! Doesn’t stick together at all. Ironed it on high even and still doesn’t work. Just terrible!

  • I did see a few hanging baskets @ Walmart the other day when I was looking for a form for mine, however i opted to go with a mesh type chandelier that I got from Goodwill. I just cut the mesh type material out of it and used the form. It’s working well but I’m still not done, it’s taking forever its seems bc I didn’t get a circle cutter and i’m doing all the cutting by hand. ay ay ay…but i know it’s gonna be well worth it and it beats paying the higher price.

  • …estou de folga hoje e amei seu blog , maravilhoso; beatifuld . Gostei principalmente do lustre ou luminaria ou candelaria. Muito agradecida que Deus abençoe voces todos…. I don”t speak inglish

  • I have been making my own designer wrapping paper using waxed paper for many years. It is very interesting because you use flowers from your garden and create a lovely personal touch. Roll out about half a metre of paper (shiny side up ,not always easy to tell tho) arrange suitable flowers, leaves,bits of thread or anything that will lie flat; then place another sheet of waxed paper over this (shiny side down) and carefully iron with a moderately hot iron all over. Iron again to make sure the wax coating has melted between the sheets.
    Ferns, pansies, impatiens, small rose petals, violas or any small flower is suitable. Maybe the rose petals would look nice in this lamp design too. It is worth a try and an easy way to make lovely wrapping paper in a hurry!

  • How do u think using pearlized spray paint on some of the wax paper before you iron them together would look? Or using some pearlized or irridecent vellum card stock? This is so pretty by the way, going to have to make one myself :)

  • I bought a capiz shell hot air-ballon & part of this ballon has capiz shells with black spots on it, looks ugly to me. Is it possible to paint this shells? Some are not messed up, but most are. What can I do? Please help! thanks!

  • I wonder if this can be place over an existing small ugly chandelier. I live in a rental.

    I saw this same chandelier idea on another DIY and they used color sample cards from Home Depot. They used about 4-5 different colors in the same palette and layered the darker color at the top and the lightest at the bottom.
    Thanks again!

  • These are so beautiful! I am making four huge ones for my church-can’t wait to see how they turn out! Thanks for the great project idea :)

  • So clever…so shabby chic…I must tell my friend who has her entire vintage 1800’s victorian home done in shabby chic

  • Im going to do this for my sons prom,( small budget) so this would be great BUT im gong to add tinfoil circles

  • My biggest issue is that I attached the ribbon doubled over just like you did in the pictures, when you say attach the shells to each ribbon, do I glue the two strands of ribbon together or glue another set of shells on the second doubled over ribbon as well? You had said you had done every other ribbon, does that mean you kept the doubled over (2) strands in between each row of shells free or just one strand on every doubled over line of ribbon free? Sorry if it sounds confusing but I want mine to come out like the one in the picture and I’m not sure how to proceed! Thanks : )

  • I thought this would be great for my grandson’s winter wedding, with twinkle lights and ice blue ribbon.

  • Brilliant, I live in the Caribbean where raw materials are either too expensive or altogether unavailable. So happy that I saw this as I have to decorate a small hall for a Christmas Ball for Elementary school kids with no budget at all. Thank you Thank you. More more please!!!!

  • Oh I don’t have a circle cutter and there are none on the island any suggestions on cutting the circles??? Please help soon I really want to try this……..

  • I tried to use a circle cutter and it was terrible. Noting seemed to work, then I dug my Cricut out and set it to a 1.5 inch circle….ITS PERFECT. Why didn’t I think of this before. Huge time saver. You can some something mindless like watch TV and let the Cricut do all the work! I making a bunch of these for my winter wedding decorations!

  • I decided to do star shapes instead of circles for my baby’s room, and I cut the shapes out before I ironed the wax paper together. Now that they are cut out they won’t stick together when I iron them. Any advice?

  • Can you use the waxed paper discs that you can buy for making jelly and jam? I don’t know if a few ironed together would give the same thickness but it would save cutting out.

  • I think I’m going to try this, but instead of ribbon use fishing line and pierce right through it to take out the hot glue step. Thanks for the wonderful ideas!!!

  • This part of the directions confused me “i alternated two and three shells on each ribbon and only attached shells to every other ribbon.” Can you reexplain for me?

  • My sister asked me for a 2 inch punch, which I do not own so I made them on my cricket with the “Plantin SchoolBook” Cartridge. I couldn’t get the wax paper to stick so I taped it to the cutting mat on all sides and it works perfectly! So much faster than the circle cutter. Thanks for the great idea!