Global Style: Fish Trap Pendant Lights

Please don’t judge this post by its title! If you haven’t heard of “fish trap” lighting before, you might be wondering if this post will be any good. Yes, it sounds weird. But these lights are actually beautiful. And this is a story of a vision to use something in a way that’s very different from its original use.

Fish traps are exactly what you might think they are. They are used to catch fish, and they can be found in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines and India. Here’s what they look like in their natural habitat, as captured by Sir Mart in Penang, Malaysia:

Malaysia Fish Trap by Sir Mart on Flickr

And here they are in our habitat, after you add electrical and hang them as pendant lights. From Côté Maison, a home in Tunisia:

Fish Trip Pendant Light via Cote Maison in Tunisia

Fishing Trap Pendant Light via Cote Maison

The Selby spotted and shared this vintage fishing basket used as a huge pendant light in a Japanese home:

Fishing Basket Pendant Light via The Selby

This trio of fish trap lights was photographed by a traveler at Bumbu Bali restaurant in Malaysia and shared on TripAdvisor:

Fish Trap Lights via TripAdvisor

Not all are really long. Here are some shorter ones, a good size to hang over a dining table:

Fish Trap Pendant Lights

From Architects Kauai, here’s six fish traps made into a dramatic chandelier in a large space in a Hawaiian home:

Kauai Architects FishTrap Chandelier

If you don’t need pendant lights, you can set them on a table or the floor as sculptural objects. Here A Thoughtful Eye shares fishcatcher baskets seen at Oly at High Point in 2012, so maybe now in 2016 we are late to the fish trap party:

Fishcatchers at Oly via A Thoughtful Eye Blog

Fishcatcher Sculpture at Oly via A Thoughtful Eye Blog

If you search for these, they’re also called “fish catchers” and “fishing baskets.” In Indonesia they are called “fish bubu.” These lights may show up in upscale places, but they have humble beginnings. They can be made of bamboo and reeds, and they are loosely woven. Here’s a fish trap being made in Indonesia captured by Petcha2 on Flickr:

Fish Trap Assembly in Indonesia via Petcha2 on Flickr

Here’s a close-up of an Indonesian bubu made of bamboo. As noted in the story, these fishing traps are not made or used much any more for their original purpose of catching fish. They’re more often decorative:

Fish Trap Made of Bamboo via The Star

They have organic shapes and wabi-sabi style imperfections, like these fish traps that are leaning this-a-way and that-a-way:

Wabi Sabi Fishing Baskets

The materials and shapes are good for many decorating styles from global style to beachy and coastal style, natural whites style. They can even be mixed well with modern style.

Sometimes they’re woven of metal, which is a very different look than bamboo and reeds. Maybe more industrial. Also, if you are interested in buying fish trap pendant lights online, be sure to check the measurements. They can get quite large! See the size of this fish trap photographed by Whoa Adventures in Sarawak:

Fish Trap in Sarawak

If you happen to be traveling somewhere and you see a pile of basket-type things with funnel shapes in them, like these found in Italy by Strangetrader, grab some! They make great pendant lights:

Fish traps in Italy via Strangetrader

Here is where you can find them online so you don’t have to travel far. You can buy these fishcatcher lights online from Our Boat House in Vero Beach, Florida:

Fishcatcher Pendant Lights from Our Boat House Shop

I’ve also found fish traps on eBay, but quite expensive, like $800 including shipping from Asia. Another option is to look for a similar style, like “woven pendants” or “basket lamps” like these from Modish Store:

Woven Abaca Lights from Modish Store

And these basket cloche lamps also from Modish Store:

Basket Cloche Lights from Modish Store

I made a whole board of fishing traps and pendant lights on Pinterest:

Follow Nomadic Decorator’s board Fishing Basket Lights on Pinterest.

As you may have noticed lately, I’m posting less often now but when I do, I’ll try to share lots of good stuff in a post for you!

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Seeking Vertical Wall Sconces

I have a weird thing where I don’t like lamps. Which is a problem if you don’t want to live in the dark! We have two interesting lamps in our living room and it was actually my husband’s idea to turn them into lamps. I wasn’t sure about the idea at first but I love them now — they’re unique and perfect for our global style. They’re made from carved wooden rice god and rice goddess we found in Chiang Mai, Thailand years ago:

Rice Goddess Lamp

These lamps are among the few sources of light in this 14′ x 24′ living room. The gold reading lamp above has been moved elsewhere in the house. So with only two light bulbs in this room now, the constant dimness is driving me crazy. It also makes the room feel smaller because the corners are dark and drab shadowy gray. We have 8′ ceilings which are low for a chandelier and I don’t like recessed ceiling lights.

So what’s left? Walls! I’m seeking four wall sconces to flank the two bigger windows at opposite ends of this room:

Living Room Wall Sconces

Where to add wall sconces

It’s so dark in this room at night, pictures turn out grainy and yellow!

Because of the vertical-ness of the drapes, I feel like it would look weird to have a round or square shaped sconce, which might look like small blobs squatting on the walls. So I looked for sconces with long vertical elements to them.

Here’s the unrealistic choice because at $599 and needing four sconces plus cost of an electrician, this one from Shades of Light isn’t going to happen:

Shades of Light Quatrefoil Sconce

But if you like this look, you could mount a sconce on a wood panel that you make. You can buy carved wood panels. Or you can stencil raised patterns onto wood with embossing medium, then paint the panels. I am thinking about doing that!

I found these Alsace and Lorraine Architectural Railing Sconces at Restoration Hardware which brings the cost down to just above $300 each (sometimes they’re on sale), then inexpensive wood panels could be installed behind the sconces:

Alsace and Lorraine Architectural Railing Sconces at RH

But like most things at RH, the Lorraine sconce looks over-sized and  too big a scale for the space I have available.

From Circa Lighting, there is this Cawdor Stanchion Wall Sconce:

Circa Lighting Wall Sconce

The Strie Wall Sconce from Circa Lighting is a simpler shape and would bring a vertical element without drawing too much attention to itself:

Strie Wall Sconce at Circa Lighting

Another option from Circa Lighting is this Dauphine Sconce (obviously you see by now I’m looking for burnished gold or raw iron color):

Dauphine Wall Sconce at Circa Lighting

This Serpentine Wall Sconce from Shades of Light is another vertical option and at $90 each, it’s a steal:

Shades of Light Serpentine Wall Sconce

But with four sconces in the room, I’d rather have less curlicue-ness. Maybe something more like this Bryant Sconce from Circa Lighting:

Bryant Sconce from Circa Lighting

A similar sconce is the Vivianne from triple7recycled on Etsy, a great price at $85:

Vivianne Sconce from triple7recycled Etsy shop

A few tips if you’re also seeking wall sconces

You may not need the sconces to be extremely bright, especially if they will be hanging too far from where you sit to serve as task lighting. In our case, the sconces will brighten the corners to lighten the room overall, and make it feel bigger. And maybe I will squint less often.

If you have a certain style in mind, check out different stores for different prices until you find something that fits your budget. As you saw above, you will often find the same/similar look at very different prices. Also keep an eye on the lampshade material. Belgian linen or silk will cost more than paper. Look for what fits your budget.

I usually do mock-ups to scale in Photoshop for purchases like this. Because sometimes when placed in a room, things don’t look as good as they did in your mind. Sometimes they’re too big, or too small, or just not right. It’s better to find that out in Photoshop than after ordering and shipping the products. Maybe the sconce I think I like the least actually looks the best. You never know. Off to Photoshop I go …

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