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Photo by Stephanie Staton
For most of our house, I’ve selected unique but timeless (at least in my opinion) lighting options that fall in step with our old-meets-new approach to decorating. The ambiance I wanted to imbibe into each room was taken into consideration when choosing each fixture. Being trapped in a tiny camper last winter afforded me a lot of time to find the right fixtures at the right price. There are lots of sales around the holidays, so keep this in mind if you foresee a new lighting fixture in your home’s not-so-distant future.
When it came time to select a lighting fixture for my son’s room, I wanted something playful and bright but not too kid-centric. I scoured the Internet for ideas, and decided it would be fun to do a bright-colored antler chandelier. With his approval on the concept, I began searching for preassembled antler chandeliers that I could paint—a task that I assumed would be fairly easy to accomplish for an affordable price. I was wrong. Countless hours spent searching yielded only one verdict: a preassembled antler chandelier was out of my budget.
Disappointed but undeterred, I decided to go the do-it-yourself route—after all, how hard could it be? (Ha! You’ll soon find out.) I found several online tutorials on assembling and wiring antler fixtures that looked pretty simple and straightforward, put a call out to all the hunters in our family willing to donate antlers for the project, and started gathering materials for the project.
My first hurdle was finding the correct materials listed in the tutorials. I never found them, so I improvised. (When I asked for a chandelier kit at local hardware and big-box stores, I got a deer-in-headlights look. Go figure!)
My second hurdle was implementing the seemingly simple and straightforward instructions. Cutting the horns with a reciprocating saw is not as easy as it looks, and drilling into the center of them where the marrow is supposedly soft was impossible because it was harder than a rock—we destroyed three drill bits just trying.
Once I came to terms with the fact that we wouldn’t be hiding the wires within the horns, I moved on to laying out the horns for attachment. I started with the two biggest horns and built it up from there, working my way out to get a fairly even distribution. I got them the way I wanted them, and took a picture. This is an important step, as the horns will get moved about during assembly and no matter how well you think you remember where they’ll go, well, you know you won’t.
Photo by Stephanie Staton
I couldn’t fathom glue holding these heavy horns in place nor did I want to chance it with my son playing around them (not that I’m saying he might throw, hit or in some way maim them, but he most likely will). So that brought us back to the drill. I predrilled the holes, killing yet another bit in the process, and attached the antlers together with screws. It sounds easy but it took me four different types of screws to find one that would secure the antlers together without stripping or breaking off midway into the process.
With the antlers securely positioned, I used a rope to suspend the chandelier from a tree while I spray painted it a glossy red. I let it air-dry before hitting it with a second coat. I planned to reposition the rope and cover the voids it left, but before I got a chance my husband decided to surprise me by wiring and hanging it while I was running errands … oops. He screwed the chandelier sockets to the tops of the antlers and strung the wires back to center. Unfortunately, the wires are a little on the short side, so they’re a little more visible than I’d like.
I plan to pull the chandelier back down and finish touching up with paint and maybe address camouflaging the wires a bit better, but overall, I’m pretty happy with the project—as is my son, which makes it all worthwhile!