The Gathered Home: DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Light Fixture _

Monday, March 24, 2014

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Light Fixture

Several months ago I found an amazing light fixture online and fell head over heels in love with it. It sparked a spinoff DIY idea that knocked my socks off, but I kept it under my hat for a while. I nursed the idea for a few months, plotting carefully, working up the courage to attempt it…

I’ve once or twice claimed to be a “fearless DIYer”, but that’s not actually how I see myself. If anything, I’m somewhat of a fearful DIYer. My creative side is restricted by my perfectionist side. I’m often intimidated by the processes/tools/skills required to make my ideas a reality, so I put them off or write them off. I don’t just dive in and hope for the best - I have best-case, worst-case, and zombie apocalypse scenarios worked out beforehand.

So the grand-fantastic-splendiferous-best-thing-in-the-world light project stayed tucked away…
Then one day, while feeling unusually bold, I linked up my plumbing pipe light fixture for a chance to be a contestant in Creating With The Stars, a DIY blogging competition with four weeks of themed projects and weekly elimination. Twelve projects would be chosen out of the roughly 300 that were linked up… Oh the suspense!

And as the time grew closer and closer for contestants to be announced, I knew, I just knew I was going to be chosen. (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t.) I was ecstatic with all the possibilities. At the opportunity – the excuse – to pull out all the stops and create four of the most mind-blowing projects I could invent. And obviously with the hectic pace required, I wouldn’t be able to let my fears hold me back.

I royally counted my chickens before they were hatched. I named and bonded with and started college funds for those little potential birdies. I brainstormed projects and gathered supplies and got my lineup all ready for each week’s theme.

And then I didn’t get picked.

I cried a little. (A lot.) And skipped a few days of blogging because the wind was knocked out of my sails just a little. (A lot.)

And then of course, I realized that I still had my ideas/plots/plans – they hadn’t magically disappeared with my ambitions – and that my determination to go big or go home didn’t have to die just because my ego did a little. (A lot.)

So fears be damned, I sat down and did some freaking geometry.

And, well, this happened…

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric



My light fixture: $50…
Inspiration light fixture: $2111…





Block 2 light, designed by Henry Pilcher.

I’m going to take you on a step by step… journey… of how I built this light fixture. Tutorial just doesn’t seem to cover the epic scale of this endeavor. Tutorial feels a little too middle school, while I’m going for a lot more middle earth with this whole “journey” metaphor. Come be the Samwise Gamgee to my Frodo on this adventure? (And yes, I’ve been rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy lately. Extended editions. Your point?)

We begin by facing our deadliest foe yet…

Step 1. Maths.

Remember when I said “I sat down and did some freaking geometry”? Like I’m all bad/tough yet good at math? Truthfully, I had a little help with the geometry. To say it is not my strong suite would be an understatement. I’m just impressed that I managed to figure out that my inspiration light fixture was 20-sided, composed of equilateral triangles, and called an “icosahedron.” After that, I needed to borrow Bryan’s brain.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

I began by tracing the base of my light fixture. I knew that I needed to fit the circle inside a pentagon (see this diagram to help you visualize how an icosahedron fits together), so we divided our circle into 5 sections with a protractor (72 degrees/section). Bryan helped me figure out that 7.5” sides for the pentagon (and hence, for the entire icosahedron) was a close enough number while giving me an easy length to cut. In retrospect, once assembled, the entire icosahedron came out a little large for the Ikea pendant light, so I probably could have shaved the sides down to 7.25” or so.

This seems so simple now, but I assure you, trying to wrap my mind around the circle-within-a-pentagon and pentagon-to-icosahedron was quite the headache. Grr. Maths!

Step 2. Spray paint.

The 10” Foto lights from Ikea come in silver, green, red and beige, but I wanted/needed black, so I taped around the wire and did a few coats of glossy black spray paint*.

*denotes affiliate link: shop from your sofa and contribute a few pennies to The Gathered Home – win-win!

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

Step 3. Cut the pipe.

An icosahedron has 30 equilateral edges, so I needed to cut my copper pipe into thirty 7.5” pieces. A 10’ pipe will give you sixteen 7.5” pieces (plus 1/2” to 1” extra, I discovered, as they aren’t exactly 10 feet), which is why I needed to purchase two 10’ pieces. If a 10’ pipe is too long for you to safely transport home, and it very nearly was for me even in the bed of my truck, you could always cut the pipes in half at the 5’ mark before loading them into your vehicle, using one of these*:

Copper Pipe Cutter

Although cutting all thirty pieces was a little tedious, this small copper pipe cutter worked just fine. First, I made dots at the 7.5” mark all around the diameter of the pipe with a sharpie.

Cutting Copper Pipe

Then I lined the blade in the pipe cutter up with the sharpie marks, tightened it, and laid it on its back on a flat surface.

Cutting Copper Pipe

I found it easiest to rotate the pipe against the cutter, rather than vice versa. Otherwise, my hand began to seriously cramp. After you turn the pipe to score it, you tighten the wheel on the top of the cutter, the blade scores a little deeper into the pipe, and a few turns later, the two pieces separate – easy peasy! I also put on a pair of nitrile work gloves* right after this, because my hands began slipping & burning on the pipe after a little while. So, pro-tip: wear gloves.

(Yes, I have a tattoo. It’s my wedding ring. It’s in Hebrew, and it means “weight,” in reference to our wedding song.)

All in all, the cutting process took a little over an hour with the majority of the time spent measuring and marking my cuts.

Step 4. Clean the pipe.

Once all 30 pieces were cut, I used some very fine 0000 grade steel wool* to remove the red ink markings from the copper pipe. It worked like a charm – fresh, shiny, pure copper pieces ready for assembly. 15 minutes.

Step 5. Assemble.

This is the most detailed step, and the one for which I have the least amount of advice and helpful photos. I began with three copper pieces and as long a piece of copper wire as I could manage.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

After I made one complete equilateral triangle, I kept adding triangles using one of the existing pieces as a side. (You might find this YouTube video helpful). While I wish I could be more informative, I’ll repeat that I do not have a geometrically inclined mind, so I had a hard time visualizing what exactly I was doing. I just kept in mind that each “point” of the icosahedron had five edges running into it, and the shape really did build itself. It was amazing watching it become 3D beneath my fingers. Gotta love that math!

When I ran short on wire, I twisted it off at an edge of one of the pipes and attached a new piece, tucking the edges inside the pipe. 50’ of copper wire was just enough for me to complete the icosahedron  (with literally only inches remaining), but that is partly because I had a false start and cut my wire too short at first, leading to some loss.

Before closing up the icosahedron entirely, I made sure to fit my light fixture inside. I didn’t do this at first, but you will want to run the wire for the light fixture through the center of one of the points of the icosahedron, and then close it up around it. I forgot to do this at first, so I had to open up one of the points after the fact and re-thread my wire.

Confused yet?

Hopefully these pictures will help make sense of everything.

This first shot is before I realized I need to run the cord through a point of the icosahedron, which is why it is looped around. If you loop it, the light fixture will not hang centered within the icosahedron and it will drive you/me crazy.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

Step 6. Hang it.

I mounted a plant hanging bracket on the wall up by the ceiling (with heavy duty toggle bolts – this light fixture isn’t a featherweight). My initial plan was to hang the light fixture with its own cord by looping it over the bracket, however I ended up using a piece of black rope (a shoelace, in fact) to remove the strain from the cord. This allowed me to position the lamp within the icosahedron exactly where I wanted it – I could separately control the height of the icosahedron and the height of the lamp. (In the photo below, see how it hangs down a little ways into the icosahedron?)

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

The purpose/destination of this light fixture? Task lighting over my side of our DIY Ikea hack double desk!

As you can see, I ran the cord down the corner of the wall to the outlet. (FYI, the Foto light has a plug on the other end of its decently lengthy cord). It may not make a whole lot of sense just yet in the context of the room, but we have these amazing reclaimed wood shelves that are going up across the other 2/3 of the desk, so this light is centered between the corner and where the shelves will start. With the slanted ceiling, this is the best placement for everything.

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

DIY-Copper-Pipe-Icosahedron-Light-Fixture-11

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

It’s perfectly easy to reach through the copper pieces to screw/unscrew a light bulb. I can’t decide if I love this light more on or off…

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric

DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric


DIY Copper Pipe Icosahedron Pendant Light | www.thegatheredhome.com #tutorial #geometric


And that is the incredibly long-winded tale of how I faced my fears, fought my polyhedron-shaped demons, and built one kickass copper light fixture. Also, I bared my soul on the internets and admitted to being pretty bummed out about not making Creating With The Stars. If you too had hopes and dreams dashed, let’s commiserate. Share an empathetic virtual drink. Do the Charlie Brown sad walk. And then go do something AWESOME because we don’t stop – DIY or die!

Brynne
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P.S. Um, have you SEEN the awesomeness that is Round 1 of Creating With The Stars? Go drool and marvel at the sheer unlimited creativity displayed, and then let's see about that consolatory drink, mkay? ;)

Linking up to That DIY Party, Making Monday, Frugal Crafty HomeThe DIY'ers, Link It Or Lump It, Do Tell Tuesday, CWTS Knockoff Link Party, Work It Wednesday, The Party Brunch, The Lovely Ladies Linky, Worthwhile Wednesdays, Thursday STYLE, Inspire Me Please, My Repurposed Life, Creativity Unleashed, & these awesome parties!

86 comments:

  1. the geometry is enough to terrify me! but it's stunning! it would be difficult to keep it in my office. pretty sure i'd stare at it all day! ;)

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    1. Thank you Kerri! The geometry was the biggest hurdle for the whole project. And I really do just sit and stare at it ;) I guess I'll finally get some work done when the newness wears off a bit!

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  2. I love it my friend! You are doing your own CWTS today. I think this project totally belongs there

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    1. Thank you Julia! You are so sweet! I visited CWTS last night to see the Round 1 contestants, and all I can say is - WOW! They all knocked my socks off!

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  3. This is amazing- nice work!!
    www.davenportdiy.com

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  4. Very cool! I love how it turned out! It looks great against the dsrk wall!

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    1. Yay! Thanks Corinna! Girl, I know you can sympathize about CWTS! Just keep on being amazing & rocking the DIY! :)

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  5. Dude. You're a badass. I have to say, I did feel the same way about not being picked. I even considered changing the name of the blog - I was in a glass case of emotion. A little happy tear came to my eye when I saw what you had done. I am so very proud of you and, although I am not a hugger, I WILL hug you at Haven for this... for the math, for the amazing light and, most of all, for the inspiration to never give up.

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    1. Hey - your comment made my day! I'm not much of a hugger either, but I will LET you hug me at Haven & maybe even hug back a little (a lot) ;)
      You ROCK and I love your blog! Your DIY projects always floor me - keep it up, Dena!

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  6. I totally agree with Julia! Your project totally belongs among the CWTS! I would have totally voted for yours, since oddly enough I voted for the chandelier one!!

    I cannot wait to see the next piece of your office, to say I'm jealous is an understatement :p

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    1. Aw, thanks love! Those projects... All I can say is, WOW. I'd have been honored to participate, that's for sure! You're so freaking sweet - thanks for all the encouragement Trisha!

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  7. Aww I know how you feel girl! This. Is. Incredible. Not only is it beautuful...but you did geometry?!?! Whaaaat??? Go girl!!! Love this!

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    1. Thanks Tania! Hehe, I thought my geometry days were behind me, but I guess it goes to prove that *sometimes* you do need math in the real world ;)

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  8. This is juuuuuust AMAZING. Brynne, you have some serious talent and imagination. You just make me want to get my hands dirty DIYing anything and everything.

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    1. Thanks love! You will have the chance very soon - yay! DIY or die! ;)

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  9. Brynne I am in awe. This is one incredible DIY!! I was excited by the tweet preview but this has surpassed my expectations. I am absolutely too intimidated to try this myself but it's exceptional and would absolutely get my vote!

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    1. Thank you Sammi! It was killing me not to post a million "sneak peeks" but, you know, that would defeat the purpose of a sneak peek, lol. I'm so glad you love it! And you absolutely could do this!

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  10. This is so amazing and beautiful! I absolutely love it. You did an incredible job with your geometry and the fixture! ;) Hugs friend!

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    1. Thank you Amber! You're so sweet! Hugs right back atcha!

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  11. Love this! At least you had the COURAGE to enter the contest....I couldn't even muster that off. Seriously a great project Brynne! Pinning!

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    1. *bear hugs & smooches* - thank you Ashley! We can still totally rock CWTS 2015, right? :)

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  12. That is stunning! Excellent work. Please stop by and share at our link party going on now.

    http://www.delineateyourdwelling.com/2014/03/link-it-or-lump-it-party-number-31.html

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    1. Absolutely! Thanks for reminding me about it! :)

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    2. Just wanted to let you know, you've been featured today! Stop by and grab a feature button. You've also been pinned to our feature Pinterest board.

      http://www.delineateyourdwelling.com/2014/03/link-it-or-lump-it-party-number-32.html

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  13. amazing!! loooove this soooooo much!! pinned and shared!! great job!!

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    1. Thank you June! I so appreciate the sharing! :)

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  14. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this project! Also, I have been bouncing around on your blog looking through tons of your creations and pinning them like crazy. :) P.S. - I would love it if you linked up at Do Tell Tuesday with the gals and me! http://www.vintagezest.com/2014/03/do-tell-tuesday-16-with-features-co-host.html

    Diane @ Vintage Zest

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    1. Thanks Diane - I'll hope over and check out the link party :)

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    2. Thanks for linking up, and congrats because I just HAD to feature your project this week on Do Tell Tuesday! :) Also, have been pinned to our features board, so feel free to grab a button and link up this week too. http://www.vintagezest.com/2014/03/do-tell-tuesday-17-with-features-co-host.html

      Diane @ Vintage Zest

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  15. This fixture is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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  16. Not only are you a super talented DIYer, but you are so funny too. I love reading your posts! Aaaand, I was pretty sure I wasn't going to be selected for CWTS so I wasn't too bummed, but now that I've seen the round 1 projects, I am relieved. Holy Moly... But this amazing light could have definitely been a contender! You are a total star, in my opinion.

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    1. Aw, thanks girl! That was my reaction on seeing the round 1 projects too - I was super humbled and impressed! You're so sweet - thanks for your awesome comment :)

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  17. This is so incredibly amazing that my jaw dropped while I was reading this and staring at those stunning photos. By the way I had the same reaction to the first round of CWTS so you're a winner in my book :) And it looks freakin' perfect in your office that I'm super jealous of. Pinned! I'd love it if you shared this over at The Makers Link Party!

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    1. Thank you Katie - you are so sweet! You'd better believe I shared this at The Makers - it's one of my favorite link parties :)

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  18. Brynne, this is seriously fabulous (even if math was involved :)! I wish I had a math class in my youth that made me appreciate how handy actual math would be to know in the future, like when I need to build this lovely icosahedron light!

    Amy | Club Narwhal

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    1. Thanks Amy! The things you learn in DIY projects... like how to figure out the angles for polyhedra! Lol :P

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  19. i think I've tried pronouncing that like 3 times. it rocks, great job!

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    1. Thanks! I keep pronouncing it wrong :P I want to say "eco" at the beginning due to the Greek pronunciation I learned in college!

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  20. Holy crap on a cracker, this is REALLY impressive. Stand proud my dear, you are officially a DIY badass!! :) xxx

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    1. Aw, thank you Kimberly!!! *hugs & kisses*

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  21. I cannot believe i haven't stopped by to show you bloggy love on this yet. It's seriously amazing, no fear evident! I love how it turned out! <3

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  22. I love this and I love your style. Your newest follower..

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    1. Yay! Thank you so much Jessika! So nice to meet you :)

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  23. So cool! I love it! I'd definitely pay money for that.
    -Katherine @ Pretty Little Lady Design

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    1. Aw, Katherine! That means so much coming from you! Our geometric light fixtures should be bffs :)

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  24. That lamp is amazing. You should be so proud of it! If I had room for it, I would totally make it.

    I was having a really rough time at the beginning of March. I seriously considered shutting down my blog. And every time I enter a weekly writing challenge and don't make it to The Freshly Pressed section, I die a little inside. And then I vow never to enter again. But I do. I entered another contest awhile back that I had my heart set on (is it sad that I cannot for the life of me remember what it was?!). That dream was crushed, too. But as we step on all of our crushed dreams, it just means we are getting closer to the top of the mountain.

    If they have that show on again, I am sure you will get picked. Don't give up!

    Jenni

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    1. Oh Jenni, it helps to hear that! But I would absolutely pitch a fit if you shut down your blog - I look forward to reading every post! Thank you so much, sweet friend!

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  25. Great job - this is beautifully done! Pinned it!

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  26. This is seriously amazing and super impressive! I would love one of these in my house :o) I already pinned to my DIY board; plan on sharing everywhere else also! Thanks so much for sharing, and I hope you are having a wonderful week!

    croppedstories@gmail.com

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    1. Oh, thank you so much! That is so sweet of you - I so appreciate the sharing :)

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  27. Icosahedron, love it! Great tip on polishing the pipes with steel wool. Seen on the CWTS link up, one of the standouts IMO.
    -Chris @ theuncommonlaw.ca

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    1. Thank you Chris! That means a lot coming from you - I'm still in awe over your Nelson bench knockoff!

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  28. This light is amazing. Thank you so much for baring your wounds and sharing your tutorial - I showed it to my husband immediately (we are in the process of re-doing our second home) and he said "I LOVE IT! Let's make it."

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    1. Thank you so much! Your comment was so sweet - comments like yours make EVERYTHING worth it! I hope you will make this light and send me pictures!!! :)

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  29. Love Love this light! I will be featuring it tomorrow night in my Whimsy Wednesday post at www.ohmy-creative.com Pinned it a couple of time too!

    Thanks for linking up last week!
    Susan
    Susan

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  30. I've been eyeing up a similar lamp for my dining room renovation that's just a little too expensive. This is exactly the tutorial I need, thank you!

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    1. Perfect! I love it when things work out like that! I hope you'll share pictures!!! :)

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  31. Oh Brynne... this is so very amazing. Goes so perfectly with your gorgeous desk. I even love just the pendant you picked out!

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    1. Thank you Amy! I can't ever have too much copper, right? ;)

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  32. Although you make it look easy, I know I could never make this - it's too perfect! The copper looks stunning against your dark grey walls and I love the industrial feel of the fixture. I can't believe they didn't pick you!

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    1. Oh, thank you so much Jen! I can assure you that the little details of the copper wiring are far from perfect, but it's really a forgiving project :)

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  33. Brynne, this is the coolest light! I'm featuring you over at the Do Tell Tuesday party tonight! I seriously love it!

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  34. Brynne, wow!!! Your DIY light is amazing!! I love the copper and the industrial light inside. It's incredible! Great job!

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  35. WOW, that's a brilliantly beautiful light fixture!!! You are so clever!
    What a smart looking piece, I t would win any DIY contest I would judge, hands down. A fabulous idea, excellently executed with a professional, fabulous result, you should be so proud. Your process is easy to follow because you and your Mr have done all the hard work for us, (thank goodness, bc math is not my friend either, you're not alone there). Thank you so much for sharing this, I saw it on Knock Off Decor and HAD to have a look, this is so well done it looks like it came from a lighting design firm's shop. I can't wait to show the photo to my son-in-law who owns a lighting design firm, I think he'll love it as well and will probably have one in their home or his office shortly! Thank you so much for sharing this great project! This is my first visit to your blog but I'll definitely be looking at all of your other projects.

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    1. VintageBeachgirl, thank you for leaving one of the nicest comments I've ever received! I hope your son-in-law does make one and that you'll send me pictures - I would love to absolutely love to see them! I'm so glad you stopped by today! :)

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  36. Wow, this is amazingly beautiful! I've pinned this inspiring project
    ~Bonnie @ Our Secondhand House

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    1. Thank you so much Bonnie! Pins are my favorite things in the entire world :)

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  37. Happy Monday! I love this so much, you've been featured on The DIY'ers today. http://homecomingmn.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-diyers-56.html

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  38. I love this! I want to make it for my entry way so I need to make sure it would clear the top of the door.. how tall is just the copper part of this put together? Thank you!

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    1. Hi Kianna! I apologize this isn't as prompt as I would have wished! The copper icosahedron shape is approximately 17" tall (from the point on the bottom to the point on the top). I hope this helps!

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  39. Wow, lamp looks amazing. Full respect for your idea and professional work. The end result is gorgeous!

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  40. Brynne, this is absolutely fantastic. I love it so much that it is the first thing I'm making for my new home. I've bought the pendant and pipe, but wasn't sure what diameter of copper wire you'd recommend. Do you remember the width you used - and has it proved strong enough?

    I had a thought whilst sourcing the piping - have you ever consider making one out of chrome plated copper pipe? I might try that at some point.

    Thanks for these brilliant instructions!

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    1. Thank you so much!
      The copper wire I used was 18 gauge and has definitely proved sturdy enough - I wouldn't go any thinner though. And no - I hadn't even heard of chrome plated copper pipe before, but that sounds like a wonderful idea!

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  41. Wow! It's so amazing. Im' proud of you! <3

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    1. Thank you so much for this sweet comment! Made my day :)

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Hello!

Hello!

Hi, I'm Brynne! Welcome to my little home on the world wide web in celebration of finding and making!

I'm an admitted Craigslist addict, cheapskate, and dyed-in-the-wool DIYer with a weakness for anything brass and a penchant for hyperbole. Read more...

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