Suspended ceiling base for lighting

I want to create some form of wooden panel to suspend about 2 or 3' from the ceiling, in which to place a variety of lights (pendants and some small flush mounted fittings). I was originally looking at track lighting, but concluded that it was too expensive (about $500 for what I wanted, before any light fittings!) and moreover, ugly. So I am thinking that if I can come up with some creative shaped panel, fit the fittings to that, paint it to match the ceiling and suspend with just enough room to allow the wires and transofrmer (if I go for low voltage) to sit on top, it could look good and cost a lot less.
My questions are:
Any views/opinions? Anyone seen anything like this before?
What should I use for the base - plywood or MDF?
Do I need to use low voltage for the fire hazard?
TIA
Mat
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Of course, I meant 2 or 3"
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Anything flammable and not grounded would not be a good idea. 2-3 inches might not give you enough room. Most installed fixtures, even the lv's are 6-8 inches high. Unless your going to use surface halogens/ fixtures I can not see how to do what your trying to accomplish. If indeed I understand at all.
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