Monday, January 13, 2014

Progress on the Shack, and How to Make a Track Light Pendant.

When we last left the story of the renovation of our outbuilding that we call The Shack, it was October and we had finished insulating the floor and reinstalling the plywood, and we removed the unnecessary framing to create a vaulted ceiling.  Next item on the list was to install track lighting along the length of the ceiling at the ridge.  

Part of this process involved converting three vintage light fixtures into pendants that would clip onto the lighting track.  This turned out to be an incredibly simple process, and the results are so unique.

As a bit of review, the outbuilding in question is this one ... 17' x 24', and I have it ear-marked to use as a studio or a shop or maybe a guest house.  (Click HERE if you want a reminder of everything that we have done to The Shack so far.)

Though there is an electric meter on the front of the building, and two outlets inside, there were no lights.  After a bit of thought, I decided that the vaulted ceiling is perfect for a simple installation of track lighting. 

The Husband is my electrical guy, and he got up onto the scary ladder to screw the track along the length of the ridge, wire it to a switch, and install the spotlights ... as I directed things from below.

Now for the lesson in how to convert a regular light fixture into one that will work with track lighting.  I have three glass pendant lights that I bought at Goodwill a while ago.  (There are only two of them in the photos, because I thought about writing this tutorial after I had already finished and hung the first one.)

The label inside the shade of each pendant says Vianne, made in France.  A quick Google search showed that the Vianne factory made high-quality glass, and it is no longer in business.  Shades this size are fairly expensive in the second-hand market.

These three lights were a very lucky find, at the astounding price of only $6.99 each ... and they are in perfect condition.  I bought them because I loved them, even though I didn't know what I was going to do with them at the time.

While planning the lighting for The Shack, I saw the lights on the shelf in the garage and I had an idea ... and I found the part to do the job while I was at Lowes.

The first thing I did was cut the wiring on my lights, and I unscrewed and removed all the electrical parts.  

To prepare the Pendant Fitter, unscrew and remove the silver nut on the white receptacle.

The wishbone looking tool comes with the kit and is used to tighten the nut when reassembling the fixture.

To enlarge the hole in the brass top of my lights, I used the fitter's nut as a pattern.  Center the nut over the existing hole, and trace inside the nut with a pencil or a fine-point Sharpie.

I used tin snips and I cut slices in the brass cap, just past the line I had drawn ... then I used pliers to bend the cut sections up and out of the way.  There was no need to try to cut a nice circle, because none of this shows how when I'm finished.

That's Dorothy's tail.

Insert the Pendant Fitter into the hole.  I needed to snip some more and rebend the pieces to make the hole a little bigger, because the fitter didn't go in on the first try.

The kit comes with two washers, a narrow one and a wide one.  Slip the appropriate washer over the fitter (I used the narrow one), and screw on the nut. 

I put the cap back onto the glass shade with the set screws, and my new track pendant was ready to use!

When The Husband snapped the first pendant into place on the track, I clapped my hands and squealed with excitement!!

Now that all three pendant lights are in place in The Shack, I have an effect that WAY exceeds my initial investment of $21 for the three lights, and another $19.97 per light for the pendant kit. 

The best part about this project is that I can now go out to The Shack and turn on lights ... the fact that they are lovely lights is icing on the cake!!


  1. I love those lights. You won't believe this but, just last week, I was wondering about your building project and how it was coming along.

  2. Ok, those lights are drop dead gorgeous...what a find! When you said you had light in the shack, I had no idea it was chic shack lighting!!!

    xo Kat

  3. Ooooooooooh, those are awesome!!!

  4. I love these. It looks fantastic! We have talked for a long time about building a shack up on our mountain, for camping purposes. We wouldn't be able to have electrical up there though, and would have to use propane lighting.

  5. I would be clapping in delight, too. They look great! My husband is my electrician, too.

  6. Good idea, Connie. You got a good buy!

  7. What a GREAT project--
    what a GREAT place to hang them!
    (Totally in love with the raised collar ties for an airy ceiling height! Again, I am j e a l o u s!)

  8. That is awesome and so beautiful! What a great find and I'm so happy you've found a use for them!

  9. Those shades are gorgeous...what a find! They look beautiful in your wonderful shack!

  10. Hi Connie, I love your lights, they're perfect! I've been thinking of you. I started my Master Gardener's class and I'm loving it!

  11. Green is my favorite color. It must be lovely to see those shades lit up.

    I'm glad you have good help!

  12. Awesome!!! I love the lights!!! This is going to be so cool!!! I need a building like this!!!


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