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Friday, March 27, 2015

Adding crystal to the arms of the Marie Therese birdcage chandelier

The template helped
make the reassembly
The last two weekends have been spent on attaching the crystal to the frame. A slow process indeed, but the results are amazing. With the crystals and metal parts cleaned and the frame re-silvered it positively glows. We cannot wait to finish the electrical wiring and get this thing hung in the dining room.

As you may recall, when we removed the crystals for cleaning and restoring the frame we set them on a large piece of tag board so that we knew how to put it back together. This made the reassembly very simple as the cleaned parts were laid out on the template kind of like a roadmap. I reattached the four tops first and then worked arm by arm.

The flat pieces have a channel through which you run 22 gauge wire to attach to the crystal to the frame. At the attachment points there are gaps between the pieces, where rosettes are attached to cover the gaps. The rosettes add a very decorative quality and hide all the wires used to attach the flat pieces as well as the lamp cord.

Here's a short video of me attaching the rosettes using a coiling technique used often in jewelry wire wrapping. 

We both marveled at the science of how this chandelier was designed and executed. Using pieces of flat glass that can be manufactured and cut at will into the right size pieces. Then the idea of having a decorative piece - also easily manufactured - that accommodates, complement and further decorates is brilliant. It also became abundantly clear that chandeliers of this type (and probably all chandeliers) are assembled by hand as there are so many variables in its assembly.

Here is the reassembled chandelier

With the crystals and metal parts cleaned and the frame
re-silvered it positively glows, even without the lighting 

And now, a few closeups of the reassembled chandelier.

Electrifying the chandelier

Now that the frame has been silvered and cleaned up it's time to do the initial wiring.

We used a clear plastic coated lamp cord that has silver colored wire. It will be nearly invisible on the frame -- this is important because the chandelier is wired to the frame.

Todd used kitchen string to measure the arms and then cut the lamp cord. Then he laid the cord on the edge of the frame and attached with the a soft 22 gauge wire.

On each of the four main arms the lamp cord runs from the top where the hanging chain attaches down the arm to the bottom of the chandelier. Then we wired in series the two branches of the arm to the candles. We did it this way because the chandelier was wired this way originally and because there wasn't enough space to run two full lamp cords. A downside of doing the wiring this way is that if one light bulb burns out, the second light on the chain won't work either. Just like Christmas lights that don't work when one doesn't.

Ready for adding the crystals to the frame. The candles
will be wired after the crystals are in place.
I purchased 30 feet of wire, hoping it was enough as John at the lamp restoration shop thought that the 50 feet I wanted was way too much. He thought about 20 feet should do it but I argued that this was a rather large frame. Turns out 30 feet is just about perfect. Well, we'll know for sure when we hang it. If not, we'll have to go buy a longer piece of lamp cord for the drop from the ceiling.