The idea for our Monstera Chandeliers began as a napkin sketch during breakfast one morning while we were admiring a jar of seeds we had collected a few weeks earlier. It got us imagining plants as mobile beings. Normally we think of plants as stationary objects, taking root, but when you start to look into the processes plants employ to reproduce, you realise all the clever ways they hitch rides and get about. We wanted to create an installation that drew inspiration from, and paid tribute to, these amazing processes. Our Monstera Chandeliers appear to be floating in mid air, suspended by near-invisible lines.
Creating a Monstera Chandelier
For this project you’ll need a selection of foliage, such as monstera leaves, palms and any other hardy, green foliage. We like to use tropical-style foliages for our chandeliers because they generally last longer and dry out slower. Essentially, you can use any type of greenery, although we do suggest using at least a few leaves with a large surface area.
Materials and tools:
Monstera leaves, palms and/or any other hardy, green foliage
Flexible mesh wire, 1m x 1m (40in x 40in)
1 pair wire cutters or pliers
1 pair florist scissors or pruners
25 cable ties, 4.8mm x 200mm
Fishing line, 27kg (60lb) weight, 1m–5m (3ft–16ft)
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Note: For the mesh wire, we use galvanised chicken wire from a roll that we purchase at the local hardware store. The size needs to be approximately 1m x 1m (40in x 40in) – it’s fine if your piece of wire is slightly bigger or smaller.
Palm leaves give the design structure and volume. Here, we’ve used yellow palm, but any variety of palm leaf will work well in this arrangement.
The umbrella fern is long-lasting and will help fill the gaps in this design and give it texture.
The monstera deliciosa is the only type of vine that grows first towards darkness while on its mission to reach light. Once it finds the darkest point of a tree trunk, it uses the trunk for support to climb up towards the light.
Using the S-hook, suspend the wire mesh at a height that makes it comfortable for you to work with it. We like to hang it from a ladder frame or from the final point we want to suspend the chandelier from.
Roll the mesh wire into a roughly spherical shape, approximately 30cm–40cm (12in–16in) in diameter. Use several cable ties to secure the folded mesh to itself so that it doesn’t spring open. Using the cable ties, start attaching the leaves.
We like to start with a few larger leaves evenly placed around the sphere. This gives the chandelier its structure and allows for more coverage using fewer materials.
Continue adding smaller leaves, to give the piece volume and to cover up any exposed wire.
It’s good to step back and twirl the sculpture every so often to give yourself an overview of the developing form.
Finally, we like to add some line leaves such as palms. These leaves act in two ways: firstly, they add extra volume and interest to the piece; secondly, they soften the edges and disguise any irregularities in the final form.
This is an edited extract from Loose Leaf by Wona Bae and Charlie Lawler, published by Hardie Grant Books. The book is in stores and available online now.