I’ve Been Stuck In Trial And Error Hell

One thing I love about DIY is trial and error. The thing I hate the most about DIY is trial and error. 😀 I know, I can be confusing. I do love trial and error as long as the trials and errors last just two or three rounds. Trial and error is a great way to learn about new processes and products. But if that trial and error phase lasts more than about two or three rounds before I come across the process and/or product that will accomplish my goal, I start getting really frustrated. And that’s exactly what happened this past weekend.

On Friday, I said that I was sure that I could get all of the spoons painted and assembled on the lampshade rings for the pendant light that is going above my studio desk. But I also said that I wasn’t confident that I could get the whole light assembled over the weekend. I just had a feeling that that would be the complicated part. And while I was right, I honestly had no idea just how right I was. I had no idea just what I was in for, and I had no idea that it would take me ten tries, and ten different ideas (and nine failures) before I found the right solution. Here’s how my weekend went…

Idea #1

My first idea was obviously to put the light back together using the first idea that I had when I just assembled the lampshade rings a couple of weeks ago. That first time, I used beading wire and screw-on crimp beads, both of which are used to make jewelry.

So I started off using that process to re-assemble all of the rings once I had all of the painted spoons attached to the rings. But the more rings I assembled, the less confident I became that the wire and crimp beads at the top would hold the weight of all of the rings with the weight of the spoons added. I had about five rings assembled, starting at the top and working my way down, when I decided to abandon that idea and find something sturdier to hold the lampshade rings together.

Idea #2

Since I had attached all of the spoons to the lampshade rings using jump rings, and I had plenty of those left over, I had the idea to use tiny jewelry chain and jump rings to attach the rings to each other.

That seemed like a great idea, except that I would get a few chains/rings attached, and then a chain would slip out of a jump ring and the whole thing would go askew. I’d get that one put back on, only for another chain to slip out of another jump ring, and the whole thing would go askew again. The problem was obviously that the chain was too thin, and I couldn’t get the jump rings closed enough for the chain to stop slipping through the break in the jump ring. So I needed a new idea.

Idea #3

I needed something simple, and my mind immediately went to S-hooks. How easy would that be?! I couldn’t imagine anything being easier or faster! Or so I thought. I headed to Home Depot and bought enough of these 1.25-inch S-hooks to assemble the whole thing. I had such high hopes.

I mean, just look at how easy! Slip an S-hook onto two lampshade rings, use pliers to crimp the hooks so that they would clamp around the lampshade ring wire, and taa-daa! Done! Right? It’s quick and simple!

Except that it was too short. It made each row of spoons cover over the next row of spoons way too much so that only about half (or maybe less) of the spoons on the next row showed.

And I got at about five lampshade rings assembled, second-guessing my decision the entire time, before making the decision that they were just too short. So I then had to disassemble all of those rings. And removing those S-hooks once they were crimped onto the lampshade rings wasn’t easy!

Idea #4

I just needed to come up with a way to extend the S-hook a little bit, so then I tried extending it with a jump ring. And I could have used a jump ring on top and on bottom to extend it even further.

But before I got too far with that, I decided to abandon the idea of jump rings altogether. They’re great for jewelry, and they’re great for holding each individual (and very lightweight) spoon to the lampshade ring. But they’re just not made for holding too much weight. And I didn’t feel confident enough in them to trust the assembly of the entire pendant light to small jump rings made for jewelry making.

Idea #5

So I moved on to my next idea — smaller S-hooks. I thought that these would be easier to work with, and easier to crimp onto the lampshade rings, than the bigger 1.25-inch S-hooks.

So I put two of them together, and…

…not only was it ugly, but it was too short. Of course, I should have known that. If the 1.25-inch S-hook was too short, then two 3/4-inch S-hooks put together are going to be too short since that’s literally the same length. 😀

Idea #6

Then I tried using one 1.25-inch S-hook and one .75-inch S-hook. The length was good. I’d say it was perfect. But getting those S-hooks crimped to each other, and then crimped onto the lampshade rings was not easy, and they just didn’t look good. It looked big and bulky, and I wanted something smaller that wouldn’t look so bulky.

Ideas #7 and #8

So back to Home Depot I went, and this time I bought the smallest chain they had with links that could be pulled apart (i.e., I couldn’t use chain with the links soldered closed). This is what they had.

I had high hopes. But the problem is that if I used three links, it was too long…

And if I used two links, it was too short.

Two links got me right back to the same length as one large S-hook.

I literally needed 2.5 of those links. That would be the perfect length, but I didn’t want to cut those links in half. Even though it’s possible to cut them in half because of how they’re made, and just use 1/2 of a link, cutting it in half looked ugly. I just didn’t want to do that. So I headed back to the drawing board.

Idea #9

I headed back to Michael’s one last look at any options they had, and I purchased these split rings. Split rings are like keychain rings, but these are for jewelry, so they’re pretty small.

I had the idea that I could basically create my own chain out of split rings. And since no jump rings would be used, and split rings are much more secure, I was sure this would work. So I bought all they had, and headed home. But I quickly realized that this idea was a bust. I sat there for a good five minutes just trying to get two split rings put together (and destroyed my fingernails in the process), but the split rings were so tight that I never even got two put together, much less enough to form a chain. So there’s no way I was going to sit there and try to assemble enough to put the entire light together. I don’t think there’s any way I could have gotten one of those split rings around the lampshade ring wire.


Then it came to me. The split rings were about the size of 1/2 of a link of the small chain. And 2.5 links of that chain would be the perfect length. So I took two individual links of the chain, and assembled them with a split ring in the middle, and this is what I had…

And…IT WORKED!!! Y’all, if you heard the faint sound of someone crying tears of joy and relief around 5:30pm yesterday, that was me. It took me ten tries, but I finally…FINALLY…found something that would work. It was strong, so there was no way it was going to come apart on me. And it was the right length. It’s not the right color, but that’s nothing that a small paint brush and some liquid gold gilding can’t fix.

So I got nine rings assembled to each other before I went to bed last night, and instead of attaching each ring to the next ring in four places, I decided to do eight. It makes the whole thing so much more stable. I don’t have them lined up yet because I’m still assembling everything. But once I get the whole thing assembled, I’ll go back and line everything up just right, and then start putting the spoons in place.

When it comes to DIY, I generally have quite a bit of stick-to-itiveness. But let me tell you, ten rounds of trial and error is almost enough to break me. Had I not spent all of those hours cutting, sanding, priming, painting, gilding, and attaching spoons to lampshade rings, I would have given up around round five and tossed this in the garbage. But after all the work I had put into it already, I was determined to see it through. But the next project that takes me ten rounds of trial and error probably won’t be so lucky.



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  1. Wow. You win the prize for persistence and tenacity!!! WELL DONE! This is going to be glorious in the end and totally worth the hair tearing. 😀

  2. It looks great Kristi! I hate to hear that it was so challenging to come up with THE SOLUION but glad that you had the perseverance. I was wondering if you are going to use some kind of clear plastic string to keep the individual spoons in place. I look forward to seeing your completed project. Your creativity and DIY skills always amaze me and the studio is looking great!

    1. I was coming on to say the same thing! My husband used to make big fishing lures and we would use these to assemble some of the heavy duty components. Lifesaver!!

  3. There’s a famous Thomas Edison quote that I love: “I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 things that don’t work.” So you know, it could have been worse! 😀

  4. I don’t know if you have a Woodworkers Store/Rocklers in your area but they have lots of misc. bits like this. Sturdy, brass, etc. They are also online.

  5. I don’t know how you were trying to open those S hooks and rings, but I found that two screwdrivers, put thru in opposite directions, opes them up with ease. For the jewelry rings, you would need those tiny tool screwdrivers! Much easier on the nails and fingers! (And I would have looked elsewhere for small chain, maybe a Farm & Home, Rural King or a tackle place for horse supplies?) Thinking out of the box when faced with a dilemma takes you to interesting places you would never normally go to!

  6. Remember, Edison didn’t get the light bulb accomplished for over 200 tries, so 10 is not a bad number. And here on the farm we always say when we are trying something new and perhaps it didn’t turn out like we thought or was a complete failure, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
    I can’t wait to see it finished; I know it is going to be a Kristi Masterpiece.
    Sounds like you deserve something frozen from Sonic on this win…sugar free of course.

  7. In addition to the split ring tool for opening a key chain ring, I have found that the little staple remover we all seem to have, that has 2 teeth on one side and two on the other, work great. Line up and squeeze.
    One of the neatest things I’ve seen to hang something and be virtually invisible was when my boss had spiral HVAC tubing that was visible the length of her vaulted ceiling. Hubs hung it with fishing tackle. Spyder Wire to hang the tubing and the little clamps that hold it together. Couldn’t see it from the floor.

  8. Just a FYI for next time, there is a tool that you use to open split rings. It looks like needle nose pliers but there is a hook at the end of one of the arms of the pliers.

  9. Kristi you have so much perseverance. I would have stopped after about the third try and would have been grumpy for a week. I’m glad you found the right lengths of materials to finish your light. It’s going to be beautiful.

  10. Girl, you have GRIT! I don’t have near enough patience to go through all that. Good for you! I am so glad you found a solution. I look forward to seeing the finished product. Thank you for sharing your messes and successes!

  11. Oh my gosh, I think I cried a little bit with you when you got to number ten! Hopefully the rest of the assembly is a lot more fun.

  12. I am so in love with this lampshade. I can’t wait to see it! Brava to you for hanging in there and figuring it out. I think your solution looks very nice, and you are brilliant!

  13. I would have thrown it away after trial #2. I have to give you E for effort, for sure. What a hard, time-consuming project when you could have easily ordered a perfect, pretty light fixture. I’m anxious to see the finished project and find out if you think it was worth the effort. Your other lights that you have made are so beautiful. The spoon artwork is lovely. I just don’t get this. I’m sorry. I don’t have to “get it” since it is not my light. You are not a quitter.
    Have a great week. I’m old and grumpy, I guess.

  14. Glad you came up with a solution that worked.
    I’ve made my own jump rings by wrapping wire around a dowel, then cutting it off (each coil becomes a jump ring) and soldering the seam on the ring. I’ve used them to hang stained glass windows that I’ve made. They don’t come apart because they soldered, and you can make them with whatever gage wire you want. I use pretty heavy gage because even a medium sized stained glass window is pretty heavy (especially if you make one using lead came). I believe its the same technique that historical reproduction folks use to make chain mail armor.