Nov 14, 2011

Tutorial: Glass Bubble "Light" Fixture

Have I got a whopper of a tutorial for you today!

Our kitchen lighting consists of pot lights and one pendant over the desk (which we installed). I wanted something to define the island because it's the main hub of the room. But even though we have NINE pot lights, none of them center over the island. Sigh. We didn't want to move the electricity (plus will all those lights and a full wall of windows, we don't really need the light), so I had to find another solution.

Enter inspiration.

So here's how we did it.


Wood board (we used a 1x4 foot, white MDF)
Glass bubbles (we got ours here and used 5 large, 10 small)
Drill and bits (we used 3/16 and 3/8 but this will depend on the thickness of your string)
Screws and dry wall anchors
Small finishing nails and nail set or wood glue
Caulk or wood filler (only if using finishing nails)
Paint or stain
String or fishing line
Ornament toppers (we got ours here because they had some real small ones - 5/16 in. wide)

Alrighty. Well the first steps are to prepare your board.

After deciding where you want your bubbles to hang, drill your small holes all the way through the board.

Then on the back (the side that will be against your ceiling) drill halfway through the board with your larger bit, like so.

So each hole looks something like this... (you can disregard my numbers... I'm kind of wacky)

If you really want to do it JUST like us, than you can drop your board at this point and smash the corner so you have to start all over. Oh life.

Next you'll need to attach some molding. I guess you don't need to, but we wanted ours to have that 'finished' look, so we did. I didn't take any pictures of this (I know, terrible) but I'll sum it up for you.

We considered using wood glue to attach the trim, but after reading that it would take DAYS (DAYS!) to fully cure, we opted for finishing nails. If your more patient than me (which is probably 99% of the world) feel free to use the glue. If you're like me, read on. Just hammer small nails into place, and then tap them in the rest of the way using a nail set. Then you'll need to caulk (or use filler) to cover the holes, and once that's dry, sand it down so it's smooth. Sounds like a lot of steps, but it isn't hard and goes faster than you might think. Just be sure to wait until your caulk/filler is really dry before you sand or you'll end up with a hot, gooey, mess.

After the holes are drilled and the trim is attached, go ahead and paint or stain it if you are going to. And while that dries...

Onto the bubbles!
So take your little ornament tops (I spray painted mine black beforehand), in case you've missed the holiday season your whole life, here's what I'm talking about..

Loop your string through it like this (let's all just pretend I have pretty hands, deal?)

And then when you stick the little legs into the bubble (I bent the top flat) it looks like this:

(No that's not dust... no way is that dust..)

Board, check.
Trim, check.
Bubbles, check.


This is pretty straightforward, I'll admit. All you need to do is thread your string through the holes (from the front to the back, so the bubble is below). Then tie a good knot at the top.

When you pull it tight the knot will hide in the larger hole you drilled, but the smaller hole will keep it from pulling all the way through. Then just trim off the top of your strings and your board will sit flush against the ceiling. My brilliant husband thought that one up.

Now just secure it to your ceiling. We used screws and dry wall anchors to make sure it was really secure (the bubbles are VERY light and delicate, not heavy at all, but better safe than sorry.. especially with this much glass involved!)


There you have it. Surprisingly affordable, and actually pretty easy. And it makes a huge difference in our kitchen. The nice thing about this project is that you can customize everything about the outcome. Make it bigger, smaller, add more or less bubbles, make the board chunkier if you want, use white string or fishing line to make the strings less noticeable, or change them to a really fun bright color. The possibilities are endless!!

Thanks for reading, what do you think?
Anyone else found a way to define a kitchen island or dining room table when the light fixture was conveniently "missing"?
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  1. I love it! Such a creative way to get the look of a bubble light fixture for a fraction of the price. I want to make one too - just need to figure out where to hang it!

  2. Just had an Ah-ha moment - I know exactly where one of these babies will go :-)

  3. Looks awesome. I really want to try and make this. I want to add light bulbs to these bubbles...any suggestions?

  4. Nimisha,

    Thank you! The openings of the CB2 globes are REALLY small, but you might be able to convert this to a light fixture if you use something with a larger opening. I googled a quick search and there are some options out there.

    Or if you can find a really small bulb (possibly LED) you could treat each globe like a pendant. Your bulbs would have to be 1/4" or smaller though.

    Let me know if you do make one, I would really love to see it!

  5. You would want to use LED's because they don't give out heat the same way that normal bulbs would.

    Great idea though. Someone should put little fishes in them and make them little floating fish bowls!

  6. This is really cool!! I did something similar for the exact same purpose: to define my kitchen island. See my project here:

    Really like this version and may have to give it a shot. So pretty!

  7. i loved it! Surelly i'm going to try. Thanks for are awesom!

  8. ADORE bubbles. Good for you. Thank you for showing this. For several years I was collecting Xmas ornaments and using clear fishing wire. Sadly, several bubbles were broken during transport and the past few yrs, I cannot find the pure glass bubbles as the tops have the metal finial.

    Thank you so much for the link on where to buy. These look wonderful in your kitchen. You are lovely.

  9. Ooh! Love this idea! Would like to have something similar in my apartment :-)

    Hugs from

  10. Wow, it looks so fantastic!! So creative. Hope you'll consider adding it to the PDB Projects Gallery. Great job!!

  11. You already did! That's where I've seen this amazing project before!! :)


THANK YOU for taking a minute to comment, I love hearing what you think! You rock.

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