Snowstorm on a String: $3 and 10 minutes (updated!)

Do y’all know Tord Boontje? He’s a Dutch designer and just about my favorite living *artist. Have you seen his stuff? If not, you should take a look.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait for you.

One of Boontje’s best known commercial pieces in this beautiful Garland Light. If you have visited a museum gift shop in the last 4 years, you have probably seen one in person. They usually retail for around $100.00, which is surprisingly affordable considering all the awards its won, but still, I knew I could make one for less. Actually, $97 less.

Yup, this light cost exactly $3.00 and all materials can be purchased from the dollar store, or in my case, Ikea.


  • $1.00, string of white twinkle lights (50 bulbs)
  • $2.00, two wire garlands (5 yards each, 30′ total)
  • Free, one wire coat hanger (I like the skinny white ones)
  • Free, dental floss or thread to hang

No tutorial here. It came on me like a bolt of thunder and I didn’t bother to document along the way. It’s just as well because it is SO EASY. This is one project that would be hard to mess up, but just in case, I’ll break it down.

  • Disassemble your wire coat hanger and wrap it around an old vase or pot, forming a very loose cylindrical shape.
  • Cut your wire garland into 20″ stretches, bending them in half and twisting onto the coat hanger. Repeat.
  • Hang your twinkle lights down the center of the cylinder, occasionally using the garland to twist and shape it to the coat hanger.
  • Curl the ends of the wire around the neck of an old bottle.
  • Tada!

Hope that makes sense. This took about ten minutes, so if it’s not clear and anyone needs a full a photo tutorial, let me know. I’m not opposed to making another one down the road 🙂

You know, I made this as a Xmas decoration, but I like it so much that it might stay up all year round. Or what about using colored metallic garland as a New Years party chandelier? Or what about making a pink one for a little girl’s room? Or what about one big magnificent ball of collected garlands hanging in your powder room?…You could add to it as years go by and eventually people would start giving you gifts just so they could wrap the box in wire garland and contribute to the fun!

You see, it’s not just a party chandelier, it’s the gift that keeps on giving!

The white leaf garland above came from Ikea and retails for 49cents a bolt, year round. If I get my act together and get back to Ikea, I might just make this lamp a twin sister and hang them on either side on the bed. Or what about three of them hanging above a long, rectangular dining table?  Oops, I better get a long rectangular dining room first 🙂

* sadly, in the realm of “living artists” –the painting cat does not count.

UPDATE 12/17/10: several people asked me to clarify some points on this project. Apparently it’s a little more confusing than I thought. I didn’t have time to recreate from scratch, but I took some photos that might help illustrate  the process…

 Start with a base shape of strong wire shaped into a funnel/tornado shape. If you have a hard time making a circular shape, use a pot or vase for help.

 Wired Garland is cheap and plentiful this time of year. Look for non-holiday stuff and you can hang it up all year long. Get at least 30′ or (that’s about 10 meters, right?) …the more the better.

 You will need a strand of twinkle lights. Chord or battery operated…you decide, just be sure if you are using paper garland that it doesn’t generate a lot of heat.

Note: As I have had this piece for a few weeks, I have seen it in the day often enough to realize it really doesn’t “need” lights at all.  It’s pretty cool as a simple decorative object all by itself.

 Wrap some of the garland around your wire base. If your base shape is droopy, use the garland to shape/support the base how you want it.

 Once your base is set, cut up the rest of your wire garland into 20″ (or so) pieces.

 Use the 20″ pieces to twist and attach the Christmas lights to the inside of the funnel/base shape. Just tack it in 3 or 4 spots, no big deal.

 Attach the rest of the 20″ pieces by twisting them onto the base wire. They will stick out and look odd –don’t worry, that’s a good thing.

Now use the neck of a bottle to curl the ends of your wire pieces. Don’t make them all crazy tight like you are curling your bangs for the friggin prom. Just round them off a little to give them some shape. By the time you are done with ALL of them, it will look like a mass of swirling snow drifts. Wahoo!


  1. says

    So much fun! If only I had the time to go to Ikea (we live smack between two and they’re both about an hour away…boo!)

    You could probably make a flurry like that with anything, though…red poinsetta flowers would be really pretty with the light glowing through.

  2. says

    ok. seriously. this is creepy. i have collected his stuff whenever i can find it, heavily discounted of course, and have adored tord since i saw him too!!!
    i picked up a tyvek lamp of his at a yard sale in bucktown like 4 years ago but it always smells like a dirty hamster cage when i turn it on. LED’s are the way to go.

  3. says

    Ahhh! I love it! He’s one of my favorite artists too…I’ve always considering giving an arm for one of his hanging pieces…thanks!

  4. Rebecca says

    Okay, I don’t know my way around Michael’s and I have never used my glue gun. I’m lost. Do you take the vase out once you’ve used it to form the cylinder shape? What is wire garland, just bendable wire with tinsel on it? Love your site. Thank you!

  5. says

    Hi Rebbecca….your not the first person to ask me this. I got a couope emails too…actually, I took a couple photos last weekend thinking I will eventually do a full tutorial on a similar piece, but since it appears other people want this before Xmas, I think I’ll just post them today…stay tuned.

  6. says

    This is lovely! I bought that garland a month ago at ikea and have been thinking of what to do with it. This is perfect!

  7. Anonymous says

    Love the part about curling your bangs for the prom!

  8. says

    I found the lampshade in question on eBay and will buy it on Friday (pay day). £20 and no need to tearfully search any longer for suitable paper garland thingies that prove darn elusive once you NEED them in your life!


  1. […] at these chandeliers hanging above lobby! Wish I had seen these before I tried my garland light. Oh well…next […]

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