Cranium Chandelier

I haven’t posted a lot lately, because the fall brings marching season (and drowning busy-ness), and we’re taking a hiatus from major house projects so that:

a) Doug can get the basement EXACTLY the way he wants it after the flood, and….

b) we have to refill the project bank account.

Being a responsible adult is boring and tedious. I’m hoping to find some small, free, or cheap projects to get started on between now and Christmas….because otherwise my creative juices will get stuck and I’ll explode – which is terribly hard to get out of the drapes.

So, bear with me – I wish I had GIANT room-sized projects to show you, but this is real life, so we have to wait. So lame. But once we’re done waiting WE’RE DOING A BATHROOM!!!!! I’m so beyond incredibly excited.

I love lighting, I love chandeliers, and our street is FAMOUS for Halloween – everyone goes all out. So last year, I said to Doug, “Would it be ridiculous to make a Halloween Chandelier, and we could switch out the lighting on the porch just for Halloween?”

He said, “Yes, it’s completely ridiculous. But I’ve met you, and so has everyone else. So this seems totally rational.”

So I decided this would be my Fall Break project!

I started with a really plain run-of-the-mill brass chandelier.


These are the types of builder-grade chandeliers often used in new construction that no one really loves (but they’re FINE), so people switch them out for something that they adore, and then these end up at Goodwill or Habitat Restore for $10.


This is good because it’s cheap, and it’s a really simple palette to add things to.


I wanted to paint it, so I taped off all the electrical bits with painter’s tape. You can also give the brass a light sand to make paint adhere better – I skipped this step, partly because I was lazy, but also because I wanted the light to look old and beat up, so if some of the paint scratched off, it would add to the effect.


And then I took it outside and sprayed it purple! In this picture, it looks a little more navy – but it’s got some plum in it.


I sprayed the candle covers black. As we’ve been restoring lights, I asked Doug to build me a stand to be able to spray candle covers any color I want. I have used it so much!


I wanted to use skulls as candle covers, and I found some at the Dollar Store. If you do this, buy a few extra so you have some to make mistakes on! I used the real candle cover as a template.


I drew a circle using the candle cover as the template.


Then I cut to the inside of the circle with a blade.


The circle is ugly and jagged. But THAT’S OKAY, because the pressure of the imperfect circle is going to be what holds the candle cover in place.




The Dollar Store skulls look pretty cheap (because they’re a dollar), so I did a little faux painting to give them a little texture. I used an almost dry brush to get some black paint on first.


And then I used a towel to blot and wipe a lot of it off.


And THEN I used some champagne / metallic paint to go over the whole head and make it a little shiny. Because skulls need a little bling. I ALMOST painted a gold tooth. But I thought it might be too much.


I wanted to add some crystals, and I found some chain that was in a box of crystals that I got at auction. These were so dirty and filthy that they looked gray, so they couldn’t have been more perfect.


I used chandelier wire to crudely attach the crystals. If this was a year-round chandelier, I would do this more permanently.



Time to play outside!


The house skeleton is keeping a fierce eye on Doug throughout this process.


Awaiting their close-up.


All hung up!


Doug switched the breaker back on – and we have light! I used itty-bitty low-wattage night-light bulbs.


The next three pictures are really fun. Doug grabbed the camera while I put the covers on, and he COMPLETELY captured my joy at seeing the light come through the skull for the first time.


Total joy. I love this shot that he snagged.


Final step? Add some cobwebs.




I took a few at night, but it’s so hard to get good night shots. But you get the idea!



Cheap. Easy. SO FUN. And there were already people who stopped their cars on the street to look at it. I’m super excited about it!


This is going to be a fun Halloween!!!!


  1. The timing of this post couldn’t have been more perfect! I just finished reading your entire blog yesterday, it took me a month to catch up after I found you through Circa. Your bedroom turned out fabulous! I had thought, “Black, ew gross, but it looks great. The black really sets off the wood millwork.


  2. I loved this idea and I think at least one of your skull folks should have that gold dental work “done”. Thanks for all the inspiration!

  3. I agree — one gold tooth isn’t too much. It’s a bonus for people who really are paying attention.

    This is a fabulous idea!

  4. This is such a creative and fun project idea! I am going to have to modify this for my dining room chandelier!

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