Imagine this, if you will: Chris is outside, mowing the lawn, wearing earbuds, minding his own business, just doin’ chores and listenin’ to tunes. Suddenly, I come running out of the house and scare the crap out of him because he’s totally not expecting to see me outside of the house in my pajamas at 2 in the afternoon.
“Hey, Craigslist Master! I need you to find something for me.”
Chris: (removes his earbuds and shuts down the lawn mower in a patient and not-at-all annoyed manner, as if to say, “Go on.”)
Me: “I need you to find me a bunch of cheap microphones.”
Chris: “Okay………..I’m kind of busy…”
Me: “I don’t need them right now. I’m just telling you now, before I forget. There’s plenty of time. I just know it takes time to find good deals on stuff. So, you know…keep your eyes open.”
Chris: “Okay…………Like, how many is ‘a bunch’ Like, 5 or 6?”
Me: “I don’t know, as many as you can find? Like, 20? Maybe more?”
Chris: (gives me a look that I will interpret here as, “20 microphones? You think it’s that easy to find 20 microphones just lying around?”)
Me: “If it makes it easier, they don’t have to all look the same. Because I’m going to spray paint them all. Gold. Also, they don’t actually have to be working microphones. They just have to look like microphones. Like microphone skeletons, that’s all I really need.”
Chris: (I have to give him credit, he held off asking this for waaaay longer than I thought he would) “WHY?”
This is why:
LOOK WHAT I MADE WITH A BUNCH OF CHEAP MICROPHONES!
A sputnik chandelier! Out of microphones.
Guys. I don’t…I can’t…words cannot describe…
All I know is, this song keeps going through my head and I’m constantly battling the urge to drop what I’m doing so I can run up to the Boom Boom Room and just ROCK the SHIZZ-NIT OUT.
Tell me this isn’t the coolest thing you’ve seen since, like, two weeks ago, when I showed you the stenciled carpet. Now that you’ve seen it, you’re questioning how you’ve managed to live your life this long without a gold microphone chandelier. To quote the Black Keys: you wanna get my…you wanna get my gold on the ceiling. I ain’t blind. Just a matter of time before you steal it.
Don’t steal my chandelier, mm-kay?
But you’re welcome to try to make your own, in case you ever find yourself with a surplus of microphones and a hankering to put your electrical skills to the test. I’ll even tell you how. Although Chris did all the electrical work, and I didn’t take a ton of pictures, and I’m still a little punch drunk on awesomeness over here, so prepare yourself for the worst tutorial ever.
Here’s how it went down: Chris came through for me and scored 25 microphones on eBay for 50 bucks, because his Craigslist skillz aren’t limited to Craigslist. Then we argued off and on for a couple of weeks about the logistics of actually building a microphone chandelier, because neither of us has ever built a light fixture, let alone a light fixture made of non-light-fixture-parts, and also because I’m an “ideas” person and Chris is more of an “if-you-want-me-to-wire-it-for-you-you’re-gonna-have-to-give-me-more-than-‘ideas'” person. So eventually I dusted off my SketchUp skillz and showed him this:
I also showed him these real sputnik chandeliers from the Boom Boom Room’s Pinterest board.
And I showed him a list of lamp parts from Grand Brass Lamp Parts that I thought would get the job done. And then one day, I came home to find him systematically tearing out the innards of 25 blue plastic microphones and replacing them with these Christmas lights, which were perfectly sized for the job.
Fun fact: later, once my design plan was finalized, we would realize that we only needed 16 microphones. So if anyone would like to buy 9 gutted microphones, I know where you can get them cheap.
After soldering lighting elements into the microphone carcasses, we tested them to make sure they lit up. And also to make sure that they wouldn’t explode.
And then it was time to assemble. I posted this picture on Instagram:
This is the hollow brass ball that forms the center of the chandelier, with X’s on it where the holes needed to go. Yeah. We took a $39 dollar cast-brass ball — the most expensive individual piece in this project — crossed our fingers, and started drilling holes in it. I guess the DIY gods were smiling upon me that day, because by some miracle, it all went according to plan.
Then we threaded each microphone’s cable through a rod, and shoved the rod all the way up into the plastic piece that connects the base of the microphone to the cable.
I pushed each rod through a hole in the ball, and secured it on the inside and outside of the ball with nuts.*
*That’s what she said.
Then I gave it back to Chris to work his electrical magic.
I watched from the sidelines, offering helpful tips such as, “Don’t screw it up,” and “This isn’t going to burn the house down, right?” I’m fairly certain that it was my guidance that made our first attempt successful.
After that, I took out all the bulbs and covered the sockets with painters’ tape. Then I took it down to the basement, rigged up a hanging device, and got out my gold spray paint. One coat of primer and two coats of Design Master’s “Gold Medal” later, I was pretty sure I was a genius.
From there it was a fairly simple process of hanging it and re-installing the bulbs and microphone-head-cage-thingies. Or at least, I assume it was simple. I wasn’t there, but Chris accomplished it by himself one afternoon while I was at work. Without me asking him to do it.
Total cost for this project?
Microphones $50 (or $32, if you only count the 16 microphones we ended up using)
Spray paint and primer $16
Lamp parts $80 (or $65, if I had ordered the right pieces the first time)
Christmas lights $10
So, a bit more than I could have spent on a very nice, yet very generic chandelier. Or five new boob lights.
But. Designing a chandelier that is so awesome, even someone as light-fixturally challenged as Chris was excited to see it finished? That, my friends, is priceless.
Update (November 29, 2014): I didn’t think the chandelier was bright enough, so I replaced the “Christmas light” bulbs with 15-watt bulbs instead.
Update #2 (November 30, 2014): Chris installed a dimmer switch.