As part of my bedroom makeover I was looking for a bedside light solution. I have long coveted the stunning Aurora Vita Eos feather light shade, particularly its ability to make a huge impact in a cluster arrangement. In its latest grey colour way, it would be a perfect fit with the layered natural textures in the bedroom scheme. Sadly though my budget would not stretch to one, let alone more. So I took on a DIY: tea-stained ombre feather light shades. Um, what, you might very well ask.
Let me explain. I sourced the Melito feather light shade from B&Q.
These were a steal at just £18 each. There’s a bigger version (40cm) too which would work as central pendant, but I opted for two of the smaller 25cm ones.
Pimping my shades
These are lovely fluffy globes of feathery gorgeousness just as they are but I wanted to do something a bit different. With the beautiful natural tones of the Aurora inspiring me, I googled extensively to find a natural method of dying feathers. If you live in the US, Kool-Aid might be an option (though that is no doubt stretching the definition of “natural”). However, tea-staining is a method that works on natural fabrics so, I reasoned, surely it would work on natural feathers too? This readers was pushing my DIY capability to its experimental limits.
Creating the tea dye was straightforward. I simmered about 30 tea bags in a large pan of water for about an hour. This created an intense red/brown dye. (If you’re trying this yourself, please see my comments further down about the results and adjust the method accordingly to the effect you’re aiming for.)
Next I decanted the tea dye into a large, high sided oven tray and dipped the feather shade in. It tended to float so I had to press it down a bit to submerge it, being careful to dip only the bottom third or so into the liquid. If you wanted, of course, you could sink the whole thing in, to create an all over colour wash.
I left it to steep for about 15 minutes, dipped it in some clean water to rinse off the tea, and hung it out to dry.
It was at this point that some friends arrived for a barbecue. Naturally curiosity was expressed as to what was dangling from my washing line. When I explained, proudly, that I was crafting a tea-stained ombre feather light shade, which I believed had never been done before, Simon (of My Friend’s Shelfie notoriety) wryly observed that perhaps there was a reason for that. Admittedly at this stage my feather light shade resembled a seagull following an unfortunate encounter with a bicycle pump and a muddy puddle.
A more fortunate encounter with a hairdryer later fluffed the feathers right back up and I was delighted to find that the tea stain had taken effect. It did have a slightly unappealing orange hue though. If I were to repeat this DIY I would use fewer tea bags and/or soak the feathers for a shorter time.
For my ombre effect, I decided I wanted to layer on a different cooler shade. I was unsuccessful in sourcing a suitable natural dye so I opted for Dylon hand dye in pewter grey.
I mixed a packet of the dye with water and salt according to the ratios set out in the instructions. Next I followed the same procedure as with the tea, soaking the shade, this time pushed over half way into the liquid, for about 15 minutes. Following a rinse in clean water, again the bedraggled shade fluffed up with the hairdryer.
Getting wired and hung up
With my shades complete, it was time to rope in (the initially somewhat skeptical) Mr Around the Houses, to get the shades wired and hung.
My plan was to hang my two shades at my bedside as pendants. However I wasn’t prepared to wire pendant fittings into the ceiling, so I opted instead to wire the shades as you would table lamps, to be plugged into wall sockets. However, rather than using a table lamp bases, I wanted to hang the shades from a fixing high up the wall to give the pendant effect.
As the cabling would be on display, I chose the very beautiful silver sparkle fabric lighting cable from the fabulous Dowsing and Reynolds. I needed a length of four metres for each shade. Mr Around the Houses attached a basic cord grip bulb holder and a standard plug to each.
I opted to hang my shades from a branch which I suspended from the ceiling using the same method as for my hanging branch light on the other side of the room. While some might say this is branch lighting overkill, I rather like the symmetry it creates. Hanging from an antler or any type of hook would be alternatives if you would prefer to avoid the sleeping in the woods effect.
So here they are: my ombre tea-stained feather lights. Mr Around the Houses skepticism is quashed (a bit). It worked! I’m rather pleased with them in any event. And all at a fraction of the cost of the Aurora. Now, I wonder what else would be enhanced by a tea-dyed ombre effect?