A fun chandelier, made from scratch


She stopped by to visit my new nest.

Truthfully, I was a little nervous. She is a tastemaker and my house is so empty that it actually echoes. The lack of furniture makes it hard not to focus on the dated old kitchen and awkward wood and tile flooring. Before she came in I tried to shrug off my insecurities.

1004236690 FL_SAR_AHARCHER04This must be how it would feel to have Julia Child stopping over for a bite while you heat up some instant oatmeal.

She breezed in and was politely impressed with the house’s “potential.” I blithered on about what I envisioned and shared a stack of samples and photos with her.

She floated around and casually tossed a few design tips my way.

Then, something utterly surprising and seriously wondrous happened. I was showing her a chandelier that I was obsessing over, but had to scrap the notion of buying since it cost $4,600. Paige looked at the photo and casually said, “I’ll make you a chandelier.”

“Holy Mother” I thought, is this one of those polite things people say but don’t mean, like “Call me if you ever need anything”? Nope, she looked serious.

She continued, “Let’s look for a used chandelier to start with, something with a good shape and I’ll work on it.”

It was all I could do not to whip open my computer and start searching for the perfect piece that she could work on that flippin’ second.

For days we exchanged pictures from Craigslist and different sites until we agreed on a two-tier, French-looking chandelier that was teetering on hideous. It was garish, with a rusty-red finish, and cost $135.

Paige drove a hilariously massive RV to collect it. When she cracked open the side door, there sat a little Parisian-style sete covered in an apple green velvet. We lugged the dated behemoth of a fixture into her mobile living room and secured it for the ride.

Before she drove away, she brought into the house a strand of craggy gray, chunky oyster shells and plunked them down on top of my fabric and paint samples.

They looked absolutely incredible.

She smiled; these would be her muse. Oyster shells.

Before she left she told me how she worked.

There would be no sneak peeks or input from me.

She will deliver it when it’s done. For a major control freak like myself, this is a rough road. However, I agreed.

For the next couple of weeks, the only update I got from her was that she was going to the back door of local seafood restaurants and tipping the kitchen staff for their shucked oyster shells.

I smiled knowing that I was getting a chandelier made by an epic jewelry designer with shells from local appetizer plates.

The day it arrived, I actually gasped.

The rusty iron was now charcoal with subtle touches of silver. Each candlestick has been subtly imprinted with a burlap fabric which gives the impression of a gorgeous ghost weave. At the base hangs a humongous luminous shell.

It felt excavated, elegant and rustic.

While I moved here for the long sunny days, I have to admit that now I let out a happy sigh at nightfall when I get to blaze up my mermaid chic “shell-andelier.”

Amy Archer

Amy Archer is owner of Sarasota-based Creating Inspired Design and writes the Barefooted Designer blog. She can be reached by email.
Last modified: December 3, 2015
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