fractal chandelier

The chandelier looks great hung low over my
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This is a suspended light fixture "grown" from 31 nested twin-lamp socket adapters. 32 7.5 watt bulbs draw a total of 240 watts. All the adapters and fixtures are rated for 660 watts, so this figure is well within the safety range. 15 watt bulbs would also be acceptable, and would generate more light. As it is, the fixture puts off very little heat. You can put your finger on the surface of one of these tiny bulbs for an indefinite period of time without experiencing any serious discomfort.

Even when unilluminated, the ivory color of the nested twin-lamp 
adapters goes well with the white bulbs, socket base, and cord.

The chandelier is essentially a binary tree in 3-space. It is symmetrical, with each adapter, except the top one, being positioned at a 90-degree angle relative to the axis of its parent. After assembly, a drop of cyanoacrylate glue was applied to the junction of each pair of adapters to keep the structure from deforming if the chandelier is moved or jostled.

My original

The first manifestation of this idea was as a table lamp, incorporating only 15 adapters and using pink bulbs and a commercially-bought lamp base. The fractal arrangement of the adapters in space suggested nerves innervating tissue to me, and so I chose the pink color to suggest (hopefully) a brain. The lamp was called "Brainiac" and was dated 9-18-2001. It was, in fact, quite ugly, and the light it gave off was fit only for a whorehouse. It was eventually dismantled, and the adapters cannibalized to make the much-more-successful fractal chandelier.

A single twin-lamp socket adapter of the type used to grow the fractal chandelier. These are available at any hardware store.

The rule of symmetrical assembly and uniform 90-degree rotation used for assembling the adapters to make the fractal chandelier is but one of literally countless possible rules. The rule used by "Brainiac," wherein one branch off the top adapter has a right-hand 90-degree twist and the other branch has a left-hand 90-degree twist, is another. Experimentation is the best approach, and may yield more interesting results than I've obtained here.



Nimbus chandelier hanging in my living room.

This is my latest creation using socket adapters. It's called the 'Nimbus,' and I consider it an improvement over the basic fractal chandelier presented at the top of this page. It is based on a four-way lamp socket (see picture below) and uses 44 twin-socket adapters and 48 7.5W 130VAC white-frosted bulbs. It is symmetric about all 3 axes.

Nimbus lamp from below.  Note 4-way symmetry.



By far, this page has been the most-viewed of any on my site. I've had dozens of e-mails, many with questions about how to duplicate these pieces. Most commonly, people want to know where I got the four-way lamp socket at the middle of my "Nimbus" fixture, shown immediately above. I bought the original out of a bin at a Mom'n'Pop hardware store here in Austin, having no idea at the time what a fluke it was, market wise. Since then I and many others have spent hours searching hardware stores both virtual and actual in the effort to find another.

The Satco 90-464 four-way multisocket. They also offer a three-way multisocket, which is model 90-463.

Happily, I've finally identified a manufacturer and a model number and an online source for this item. It is the Satco model 90-464 four light cluster . They are available at, among other places, for a price that doesn't require structured settlement annuities to afford. Satco also makes a three light cluster, which is the model 90-463, available from the same source. The one I used in "Nimbus" was a four light cluster that looked just like this one when I bought it; I modified mine by drilling out the rivets holding it together so I could remove the bottom shade fixture bar. While it was disassembled, I separated the two halves of the brown plastic casing and spray-painted them gloss white. Then I reassembled the adapter using screws and nuts with washers and lock washers where there had been rivets before.