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First Attempt at a Tiki Light

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It all started with the “thing”. I found it at the local Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for a couple of bucks. The form vaguely reminded me of some old MCM lamps I saw back in the day. 8” tall, 6” outer diameter made of some sort of composite material. I’m thinking it’s a core for some sort of pump or filter, but it looked like a good start for a light.


It sat in the garage for a few years. In the meantime I had drooled over the beautiful lights in home bars here on TC, and reviewed some how-to’s (thanks Tikiskip and Prikli Pear!). This fall, after the temps in the garage subsided, I finally decided to take the plunge. So with proper sacrifices to the gods of tiki lights and rum I girded my loins and got started.

First up was to open up the “windows” on the thing. Awkward angles and weird material so it came out a bit rough.


Frankensteined some hardware.


Wrapped it with some cool Tiki Tony fabric from Spoonflower.


Added some cheap bamboo from AC Moore’s going out of business sale.


Some seagrass braid to cover the screw heads.


A coat of amber shellac to even things out and here it is in situ.



Lots of learning opportunities (in other words “mistakes”) for me in this adventure. I’m generally happy with it, with the exception of the chain I used to suspend it. That will have to do for the time being until I can figure out a better answer.


Well done!!!


Excellent re-purpose! Just use more of that rope for to replace the chain and you've got it!


Really cool idea!

Hearn, MaukaHale and TikiRobD - Thanks so much!

TIKIGIKI - Thanks - I'm workin' it!


Hey that looks Great!

You know TIKIGIKI is right you can use rope to hang your light and you can braid the wire into the rope as well to hide the wire.

The rope can be lightly burned too to give rope a better look.

I use brown wire as it blends in better with bamboo and rope.

You got some thick wire, there is a smaller size of that same wire.

That wire is called zip cord or lamp cord wire, with the smaller stuff you can weave the cord into the chain even and help hide the wire a bit.

One last thing try not to breath in that stuff when you grind, cut, sand, it as heck you don't know if it's good for you or not.

Breathing in shell dust can be deadly, as in really deadly.

Keep makin!

Skip – thanks! I appreciate the feedback!

You have good eyes. That is indeed 16 gauge wire. I probably over-engineered it. Not having a dedicated tiki space (although I’m slowly encroaching on Mrs. Monkey’s dining room), I had to swag the lamp, necessitating about a 15 ft run of cord. It’s only a 25 W bulb, but being ignorant of how long a cord you can get away with in the smaller gauge I erred on the side of caution. Of course they were out of brown that day at the hardware store, hence the black. I would much rather have an 18 gauge cord – and I’ll probably re-wire it after the first of the year.

As for hanging it, nothing in my bag o’ cords worked. Jute twine is too small, and too uneven to get a reasonable braid. The next size jute I had was too big – all you saw was the cord. Sisal is a bit too stiff and hairy at that size. At this point I was just wanting to get the darned thing hung up. I’m thinking about some of the braided seagrass that Jayme talks about in his YouTube video. But one way or another the chain has got to go.

Absolutely concur with masking up to work with this stuff. Even with hand tools the dust was flying.

[ Edited by coldwarspacemonkey on 2022-12-21 11:28:58 ]

coldwarspacemonkey it turned out great! I love making lamps out of found items and you hit the nail squarely on the head!

Thanks MadDogMike!


You know you can buy a whole roll of that wire that is 250 feet, I think it costs around 50.00 or 60.00 bucks.

So for me that would be 25 lights.

BUT I use that wire all over our house as we have LOTS of blow molds for decorating and I rewire those when we buy them also use it for lamps etc.

I have a need for many sets of wire, sockets and plugs so buying them in bulk and making that wire set up you buy already made is less costly if I make it myself.

AND I can make the cord as long as I want it to be on my tiki bar lights they are most times over ten feet long, and on blow molds I can know where they are going to go and put the cord right to the plug with no extension cords.

Nice one Came out great


Beautiful lamp! Looks great when illuminated.

Nice little light!

Skip - I'll check it out. Thanks again!

hang10tiki, maulrat, and SufferinSimon - thanks!

Well done! Taking the plunge on a new type of project is always the biggest step, but you've figured things out nicely! The uncertainty of the unknown is the creativity killer, but just forging ahead, using trial and error to get something working is the best solution. That, and reading Skip's lampmaking posts. If it weren't for those I'd still be tiking in the dark!

Now I'm waiting to see you next one!

Prikli Pear - Appreciate it! Your video was also instrumental (you probably noticed the obvious similarities). And thanks for the Spoonflower tip as well!

Pages: 1 16 replies