My favorite past time is watching and feeding my visiting
squirrels. They are my only pets now. Trying to decorate a
balcony around their constant comings and goings has
presented quite a challenge. They feel that anything out on
the balcony is there for their appreciation and thorough
investigation. Some squirrels come, check for food and if
there is none kindly leave to search elsewhere. But some,
This project was another of many where I was able to make use of my
collection of old "junk" jewelry. I used this concha from which to hang my
first mirror chain. Conchas were commonly used in a segmented silver belts
known as a "Concho Belt". A concha is a round or oval metal piece
embossed with a western design and often inlaid with a stone. This one had
a white plastic bead which I replaced with an oval mirror. I glued 2 conchas
together to make this base ornament. Note how I have hung it from a barrel
swival so that it would turn more easily in the wind.
- 1" Mirror pieces (25 piece bag $1.74)
enough for a 12-mirror chain which is
approximately 18 inches from first to last
- Fishing line - strong yet thin
- Beads - clear or silver (12-13 per chain)
- Waterproof glue - I used Duco cement
- 2 - 1/2" rings to attach to both ends
- 2 - 2 sided ornaments to attach at both
ends of finished chain (optional)
- Clamps - one for each set of glued mirrors
(12) in chain (spring clothes pins work well)
- Needle that fits thickness of fishing line
and the hole in your beads
Each winter when the Linden trees in
the courtyard have shed their leaves
I am able to catch a glimpse of the
apartments across from mine through
the bare branches. For years now
throughout the winter I have seen an
inexplicable twinkling coming from
the third floor unit across from mine.
It was as though there were lights
winking or flashing in the darkened
living room. At first I thought my eyes
were playing tricks on me and was
even alarmed that something was
sending out sparks. There was no
rhythm or pattern to the flashes as if
they were novelty lights.
If I had not had a specific design in mind and could have found exactly the style I was looking
for I might have bought my mirror chains rather than making them. Truthfully this project
looked a lot easier than it turned out to be. While I am pleased enough with the finished
product, I found there was a lot more work gluing and assembling than I had expected.
Considering how reasonably priced some of the manufactured chains are I don't know if this
project was worth the time and work expended. For those of you who have more money than
time or talent and are satisfied with someone else's design I have included the following links
where you can purchase mirror garlands.
Hoping I could duplicate the effect I decided I must have one of these reflecting chains and
contacted the neighbor, heretofore a complete stranger to me, to ask where she had found the
chain of mirrors. Shortly after receiving my note of inquiry my neighbor called me and I now
have the information I sought and a new friend as well. My neighbor bought this ornament from
the local drug store across the street but she did so several years ago and had not seen them
since. She described the mirror chain to me in detail and thought it could certainly be made
with a few affordable materials. The first 2 chains that can be seen at the head of this article
are my attempt at duplicating her magical ornament that produced the dancing lights. The 3rd is
a variation on the sun reflector of my own design.
The last mirror or reflector chain I made is a bit
different. It consists of a collection of faceted mirror
balls reminiscent of the old time dance halls or a prom
night in the 50s. In this case these incredibly shiny and
reflective balls were Christmas ornaments. I strung as
many as I had together on a piece of fishing line in
Notice (in case, like me, you are a total moron in geometry) how a 1" square mirror tile is 1 3/8 "
when measured on the diagonal. By turning the square on its diagonal point to form the
diamond shape a larger piece is created.
After observing this phenomenon for so long it became an overwhelming mystery to me that I
had to solve. By taking a few photos, blowing them up and studying them I finally was able to
identify this string of tiny mirrors as the source of the light show. So why would a suncatcher
be creating such flashes in the wee hours of the morning when the sun and the owner had long
since gone to bed? The best I could figure was that the mirrors were reflecting the outside
security lighting onto the porch window glass causing the sparks of light to fly.
1. Plan and sketch how you want your chain to look.
2. Gather all your materials into a project box.
3. Lay out work mat or protect work table from glue.
4. Lay out your chain pieces.
5. Cut a 3-ft piece of fishing line for an 18" chain.
6. Tie fishing line to your first 1/2" ring, knotting 2- 3 times. Trim, leaving
7. Thread your needle with the other end of the fishing line.
8. Thread a bead onto the line up to the ring. Stuff the 3/4" shank into the
first bead along with your line.
9. Spread glue on the back of a mirror tile staying well away from the outside
10. Center fishing line down the middle of the tile and include the rest of
knot shank so that all the shank will be hidden.
11. Lay the 2nd mirror tile on top of 1st making sure the joined pair of mirror
tiles are as close as possible to the bead.
12. Clamp the 2 glued pieces together with a clothes pin.
13. Thread the next bead and repeat steps 9-13 turning every other mirror
tile on the diagonal to form a diamond and continue until you have
strung all beads and glued all tiles. (12 in a 25 tile bag)
14. When you get to the end of the chain repeat step 6 by tying on another
1/2" ring, feeding the shank back through last bead and into last glued tile.
15. Keep clamps on until dry. ( 8 hours or overnight)
16. Remove clamps and attach top and bottom ornaments.
Next you see my owl mirror chain. Here I used an
old necklace medallion of an owl. It is not
finished on one side but I did glue rhinestone
eyes on both sides and replaced a plastic faux
turquoise oval insert in its belly with a hammered
the lazy or most cleverm prefer to wait until I come to put out more food and
while waiting create what mischief they can. They taste all the plants, dig in
the planters, climb on everything and, yes, they sometimes chew on, hang
from or play with the balcony decorations. The mirror chain that hangs from
the silver concha had the bottom silver ball and the last silver bead
removed by a squirrel who wished to find out how it tasted. After several
weeks I did find both bead and ball but the bigger plastic silver ball had a
gouge gnawed out of it. This incident brought a real problem to light. There
is no way to fix a chain once it is broken. I do not believe that the mirror
pieces can be successfully separated without destroying the silver backing coat and there is no
spare line to tie on replacement pieces. For now I am content to leave the chain to end abruptly
on a square mirror tile without an end bead or ornament.
The finish ornament that I hung from the owl
mirror chain is a unique crystal pendent I found
in my old jewelry collection. It is real glass and
has been cut or faceted but why in this odd
shape I can not imagine. The holder that
encircles it appears to be real silver.
Crystal prisms are often used as suncatchers
and rainbow makers. The craft store sells lovely
faceted crystal that can be used in projects such
as this one. They are sold in both glass and
plastic and besides acting as a wonderful
reflector and refractor of light, they add an
elegant and decorative touch.
Here I have added a few crystal suncatchers and some crystal
bead projects you may wish to buy or try.
I found the faux crystal (plastic) clip on dragonfly
at the craft store and thought it would be a
whimsical addition. As you might imagine when
sun hit this string of reflective balls light dances
on all the walls and ceiling of my sun porch. It was
a good deal easier to make since it did not require
meticulous, messy gluing.
While on the topic of shiny reflective balls we
should spend a moment talking about gazing
balls. These are also know as yard globes, lawn
balls, garden balls, gazing globes, mirror balls, or
chrome balls. They are mirrored spheres typically
displayed atop a conical ceramic or wrought iron stand
as a lawn ornament. They can range in size from 2 to 22
inches in diameter. Some are smooth and others faceted
and some are made to light up and glow at night.
As you can see from the picture on the right,
garden balls seem to come in every color, size
and surface. Since there are not any set
parameters I made container garden balls with
these 3 shiny faceted silver Christmas
ornaments. They reflect the sunlight and even
spin on windy days.
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