August 8, 2012

DIY $9 String Globe Bar Pendants

When our house was being built and the lighting fixtures started going in, I knew they were going to be on the top of my list of things to replace. The #1 fixture(s) that needed to go? The two pendants that hung over our breakfast bar in the kitchen:

There's nothing wrong with them, they just aren't my style and they're a little smaller than what I had in mind. I lived with them for the past two months while I searched for some alternative options.

Option 1: Industrial Pendant Lamp // West Elm

[ Image via West Elm ]

I really love the look of this pendant but I could never really get a sense of how big it was in pictures and, even though I measured out the diameter (11"), I still couldn't get a sense of the size in the space.

Also, in order to hardwire it, I'd have to spend an extra $15 per pendant for a conversion kit. That's not bad but every time I decided it was "the one" and I was going to order two of the pendants + two conversion kits, they were on back order and rather than waiting any longer, I looked for something else.

Option 2: Oiled Bronze Pendant Lamp // Lowe's

[ Image via Lowe's ]

I fell hard for this pendant when I saw it online and fell even harder for it when I saw it on display at my local Lowe's. It's big and beautiful and adds a little bit of the industrial flair I've been wanting to add into the house.

The only reason two of them aren't hanging above my bar right now is because they're $118 each x 2 = $236 + 9.1% AZ tax = $257.47 which is much more than my little wallet can handle at the moment :(

Feeling a little overwhelmed by how expensive lighting actually is, I decided to DIY a pair of string globe pendant lamps to replace the frosted shades my builder had installed. I had successfully DIY'ed a string globe pendant lamp that hung in my old condo's dining room so I figured I'd make two more, but on a smaller scale.

To make the pendants, I used the following:

Items purchased:
  • 2, 10" rubber play balls -- Ace Hardware, $6 ($3/each)
    • Sidenote: I used rubber balls because they don't deflate as easily as balloons do and they tend to hold their shape better
  • 400 yards of mercerized cotton yarn/string -- Michael's, $5
  • 16 oz of Stiffy fabric stiffener (any brand will work) -- Joann's, $7
Items already owned:
  • Rubber gloves
  • A bucket
  • A garbage bag (to line the bucket with)
  • A plastic drop cloth (to cover the garage floor/my legs with since things get messy!)
TOTAL: $18, or $9 per pendant :)

Note: this project may cost you more than $18 depending on the supplies you need to purchase and where you purchase them from.

After I had covered my working area with the plastic drop cloth, I put my bucket down and lined it with a small, kitchen-sized garbage bag. Then I poured the entire bottle of fabric stiffener into the bucket and dropped the whole ball of string in so it could soak up the fabric stiffener. I let the string soak for a minute or two before I put on my rubber gloves and began wrapping the fabric stiffener soaked string (say that 10 times fast) around one of the rubber balls.

There's really no step-by-step process I can share for wrapping the string, except make sure you wrap it around in random patterns and try to fill in any open gaps that you don't like. Keep randomly wrapping the string around until you like the pattern/fullness that you see, then cut the string and tuck it underneath another string near by so everything doesn't unravel while the globe is drying.

I don't have any other in-progress pictures because things get really messy, really fast and it's kind of hard to stop in the middle of the project so make sure you have at least 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time to complete one pendant (each of my pendant's took about 30 minutes to complete).

After I had finished the first pendant, I started the process over again to make the second one:

Once both pendants were done, I set them down on the plastic drop cloth and let them dry overnight in my garage. When I got home from work the next day, it was time to get the rubber ball out of its string shell. To start, I used a wall anchor that had a sharp point on the end of it to pop the ball but you can use scissors, a nail, a knife, etc. - anything with a sharp point than can pierce rubber will work!

Once it was popped and the air started to come out, the ball pulled away from the string:

To get the ball out, I found a section of the string globe that I didn't like and cut a plus sign in it (+). Then I cut a curve from one end of the + sign to the next end. I cut 3 more curves until I had cut a small circle out of the string:

The circle was wide enough for me to squeeze my hand through to grab the rubber ball so I could start cutting it into pieces:

And eventually pull it out of the string globe:

I repeated the same circle cutting/ball removal process on the second string globe and once the string shells were ready to go, it was time to figure out how to actually hang them on my existing bar light fixtures.

You see, sometimes when I start a project, I don't actually think it all the way through! I just do it and then wing the important parts - like getting these globes to hang!

Thankfully I had a happy accident when I was test fitting one of the globes around the lightbulb to see how it'd look.

As it turns out, the hole I cut to get the rubber ball out was big enough to fit over the existing pendant lamp's down rod base (no idea if that's the technical term) - AKA the silver dome piece in the image below - but small enough to sit on the edge and hang around the bulb.


Looking into the living room:

When the lights are turned on, they look like little glowing globes :)

In case you're wondering, the lightbulb sits in the middle of the pendant (about 3" away from all sides) and therefore doesn't touch any part of the string globe so I'm not worried about it being a fire hazard.

Also, we hardly ever have these lights on and if we do, I've switched the bulbs to CFL's which burn much cooler than the previous incandescent ones we were using so everything should be OK!

How about a little before and after action?


Pendant light comparison:


I don't know if I'll keep these string globes around forever (maybe Santa will tuck two of the Lowe's pendants under my tree?) but they're definitely a big improvement over the old frosted shades I had!

What do you think? Not bad for $9 each, huh?!

I'm sharing this project on: DIY Showoff, House of Hepworths, House on the Way, Home Stories A to Z, Not JUST A Housewife and One Project Closer


  1. Wow those are great! Sure beats over paying for the Lowes pendants too. That didn't look too hard either.

  2. Thanks John! It wasn't hard at all, just a little messy haha

  3. I love them and I love the rubber ball tip instead of a balloon - they turned out so nice and round! haha. AZ tax is high!

  4. They came out great!

  5. Crystal - Yes, AZ tax is high but we don't pay tax on food items so that helps a little bit :)

    Thanks Anonymous!

  6. Those came out so great!! What a beautiful project. Thank you so much for the inspiration!!

  7. Thanks Karah! Glad you liked the project :)

  8. Fabulous! Thanks for the tip about using a rubber ball. Thanks for sharing!

  9. SO MUCH BETTER! I made tiny versions of these as christmas ornaments, but I LOVE how you've used them as pendants. Looks super expensive!

    PS - Why is lighting so dang expensive?!

  10. Thanks Kelly! Christmas ornaments sound so cute, I might have to make some for my tree this year :)

    I have no idea why lighting is so expensive! It's so unfortunate that 90% of it (like the 3 ceiling fans I need) isn't DIYable too!

  11. Wow! I love them! You make it look easy and the price is awesome. They look gorgeous in your kitchen! Beautiful job! I'm going to include a link back in this week's highlights! ;) Thanks so much for sharing your creativity!

  12. You're so welcome! Thank YOU so much for including me in the highlights! :D

  13. Love your globe lights! I'm looking for a creative replacement for my glass shades on a fixture hanging over my sink and this is so cool I will consider it :) Thanks for the great how to details.
    Robin @

  14. I love it! plus i love that i am not the only one with dark kitchen cabinets! :)
    Thanks so much for linking up and linking back. Be sure to like us on facebook for contest updates and winners!

  15. Thanks Robin!

    Jocie - Thanks! We painted the kitchen cabinets in our old condo white and we were over them by the time we moved haha I chose our granite before I chose our new cabinets and, while I was considering white ones, the chocolate ones looked much better :)

  16. I love them. They look so modern and bright.

  17. This is such a cool idea! Great pictures and tutorial! They are very Chic. I'd love for you to share them at my linky party, Twirl & Take a Bow at It's every Tuesday. Hope you can stop by!

  18. Wow, these look awesome! Pinned =)

  19. I think these are awesome!!! I had to show them to my hubby - who isn't really a fan of pendants (He's quite tall... enough said), and he even thinks they are cool. :)

  20. Love it! Very cool. :)


  22. I tried this but how do you remove the extra fabric softener between the yard? We removed our ball but there is so much extra clear film from the fabric stiffener and it really shows and doesn't look very good once the light is turned on. Suggestions? Thanks in advance! Love the great improvement in your kitchen and hoping to do the same in our entry way!



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