Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Outdoor Solar Wall Sconce

A few months ago, someone posted a link on Facebook that had fun, creative ideas for outdoor decorating. One that caught my eye was a reclaimed chandelier. The decorator removed the light bulbs, fitted the sockets with small solar lights, and hung it from a tree. I loved the idea but dismissed it because I couldn't think of the right place in my yard to hang it. (I couldn't figure out how the solar lights would charge if they were hanging in the shade.) Here is the link if you are interested: http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/brilliant-outdoor-ideas?sub=2160688_1107661

Several weeks later, however, I found this ornamental, metal wall sconce at Hobby Lobby and hoped that I could adapt the idea and hang it on my gate.

The first task was to find the small solar lights. At the beginning of the summer, I saw them at the dollar store, but--no luck. I went to the hardware store and found a large selection, but they were all too big (and pricey). On a whim, I stopped at Walgreens and checked in their seasonal aisle. Sure enough, they had some, and they were on sale for $1.50 each. Perfect!

I was a little worried about how I was going to dismantle it and get the light off the stake. But, fortunately, with this particular brand, the silver solar light simply twists off the clear plastic cup. And, I was excited to find that the light nests perfectly onto the rim of the glass votive cup.

Because the sconce will hang on a gate and will potentially get jostled a bit, I ran a bead of E 6000 glue around the bottom of each light so that it rests securely in the cup.

Now to let it charge. . . .

You would think that the picture above would be followed with a final photograph of magical, glowing lights. Well, that was the plan. Instead you get "Outdoor Solar Wall Sconce: Part 2." (Sequels are big right now, aren't they?)

Remember how I mentioned that I glued the lights into place because I was worried about them being jarred loose when the gate shut? It was a good idea, but it didn't go quite far enough. Just hours after I took the above picture, the gate closed with a bang. The glue job held perfectly! However, the entire sconce jumped off its hangers and crashed to the patio. So although the lights remained firmly affixed to the votive cups, several of the glass cups cracked on impact.

So. . . . I went back to Walgreens and bought new lights. (I should mention here--full disclosure--that I almost marched in complaining that most of the lights I had bought the week before didn't work. I discovered just in time that the lights have tiny on/off switches on the underside of the solar cells. Just thought you should know. It didn't occur to me that solar lights could be turned off. It seems a bit like turning off the sun.) 

Unfortunately, when I got home with them, I discovered that without the glass cups, the lights were slightly too small and slipped through the metal loops that were supposed to hold them in place. So the question became--how can I make either the loops slightly smaller or the lights slightly bigger? The answer? Jute! I ran to Hobby Lobby and bought a ball of jute. Armed with my glue gun, I wound the jute around the loops, which made the holes small enough to hold the lights and added some unexpected texture as well.

It worked well, looked interesting, and created a good base for gluing on the lights.

(The jute destroyed my scissors, however.)

Since the glass votive cups that came with the sconce were no longer usable, I decided to remove the solar lights from their stainless steel posts but keep them attached to the plastic reflectors which protect the tiny light bulbs on the underside of the solar cells. (Another advantage to using the plastic reflectors over glass cups is that there is no chance for rain water or condensation to collect in them. Thinking positively here :) Using my glue gun, I ran a bead of glue around each jute circle and secured the lights in place. 

Before I glued the last lights in place, I grabbed my hammer and tapped the hangers gently to tighten their grip on the sconce.

So, there is obviously more than one way to do this. Find a way that works for you
--and love the light.

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