How To Make "Icicle Lights" Less Clichéed and Dull
Let’s face it. "Icicle lights" are yet another over-popular fad. In moderation they’d be okay (especially if people straightened them out from the zigzag distortions imposed in packaging) but they’re everywhere.
And, in my usual response to something that irritates me, I’ve done something silly with them.
I’ve got a cheap set of the lights attached to the little lintel over my front door. For a few days, the "icicles" were pointing in random directions, but then I decided that my point wasn’t being made clearly enough; it was hard to see that what I had were icicle lights and not just a branching lamp set. So now the "icicles" are "hanging" upwards from the lintel.
It works like this...
I made clips which would attach the lights to the lintel, with a supporting wire built into each clip. Each clip was made from a short piece of galvanized steel strapping and a length of 14-gauge galvanized wire, both from the hardware store.
The necessary length of the piece of strapping was calculated as 11/2 inches for each of the top and bottom, plus the middle section: the thickness of the lintel, plus about 1/8 inch for the thickness of the wire, rounded upward to the next 1/2 inch. Since the lintel is about 3/4 inch thick, the middle section of the strapping was 1 inch long and the total length was 4 inches. The strapping has holes in it, alternately large and small, each 1/2 inch; I bent it at 90° angles at the holes bracketing the middle section (labelled "A" and "B" in the picture).
The necessary wire length was the length of the icicle strand (which varied from one strand to the next) plus about 21/2 inches. For each clip, I bent the wire into a hairpin curve at a point 2 inches from one end. The long end of the wire was passed through holes "A" and "B" (where the strapping was bent) and the short end passed through hole "C". Then the short wire end was bent downwards along the strapping.
For the clip to hold firmly, I found that it was necessary to bend angle "A" to a bit less than 90° and then bend the free end of the strapping back outwards again. This inwards bulge gave the clip a better grip.
I then threaded the icicle strand onto the supporting wire. At each lamp, there’s a small gap where the wires that lead into the lamp base separate from the other wire(s) in the strand. I ran the supporting wire through those gaps. This forced the lamps to be in a straight line and attached the icicle strand firmly to the wire.
At the end of the supporting wire, I used needle-nosed pliers to bend a loop with a small gap in it. This loop held the icicle strand wire, just at the base of the last lamp in the strand.
And then it was just a matter of clipping the lights to the door lintel, and bending the supporting wires in the directions that I wanted.