LET THERE BE LIGHT: Re-styling a lamp
Making an Old Lamp New Again
One of my best friends gave Brad and I a lamp for a wedding gift. As we approached our fifth anniversary, the lamp shade was living its last days. I had managed to tear the lamp shade. It was just a slit, but did not look good at all when the lamp was turned on, so I had my eyes open for a new shade that would fit the style of our newly remodeled living room in Berlin. I have also been toying with the idea of making a wood and porcelain chandelier for our kitchen, but it would be a lot of work for something that I am not sure will work. So why not try a smaller version and make a shade to replace the torn one? Here is the shade I started with.
I also decided to do another experiment and try taking all my pictures with my iphone rather than my camera. So we’ll see how this goes.
First, I had to make the porcelain disks. To do this I rolled out a few slabs of porcelain to about a quarter of an inch thick. When the clay was leather hard, I cut the circles with a cookie cutter. I used a needle tool to poke small holes that I could use to attach the disks to one another. I poked one hole in some of the disks and two holes on others. It will be obvious why soon. The disks were all fired to Cone 10.
Next I stripped the shade off of its frame and cleaned as much of the glue off the frame as I could.
Now the funs starts! I reattached the top of the frame to the lamp base and began assembling strands of porcelain disks. I used jewelers wire that I had on hand to string up the disks. I would have preferred to use silver wire, but I only had gold on hand and God forbid I spend money on an experiment. The label was long missing from the spool of wire, so I have no idea what gauge it is.
In the picture you can see that all of the disks in each strand need two holes except for the very bottom one. Oh, that’s Brad;s strong back being used as a back drop for my fine iphone photography. He is so useful! After I had all of the strands done, I went back and trimmed off all of the extra pieces of wire that were sticking out of the connecting points.
I spaced the strands evenly around the shade. Because I had made the disks before I knew what frame I would be using, I hadn’t made quite enough disks. This meant that I couldn’t make enough strands of disks for them to hang as closely together as I wanted. So when I turned the light on the light bulb glared at me, making me see spots. Not a good lamp design! I needed an inner shade to diffuse the light.
I scrounged around the workbench and came up with some left over screen from when Brad repaired our storm door, but that alone still wouldn’t diffuse the light enough. I decided to add a layer of artists vellum to the screen. I cut the screen and paper to the appropriate size to make a tube that I could hang from the frame between the lightbulb and the hanging porcelain disks. I sewed the vellum to the screen, rolled them into a tube and put a stitch or two in to hold the tube closed . Phew, That was a mouthful. Good thing I have pictures….
Finally, I liked the way the shade looked when the light was turned on! Since I used vellum as part of the diffuser and I don’t really want to start a fire, I’ll be sure to use a bulb that stays cool, like a fluorescent or LED bulb.
On to the finishing touches. The bare frame at the top looked thin and bland. I though it would look nice to wrap twine of some type around the frame, but I wanted a thicker look still. The original shade that I tore apart, was a drum shade, so the top and bottom of the frame are exactly the same size. I added the bottom part of the frame to the top part and wrapped twine around them both to hold them together. The twine I used is the string used to tie upholstery springs. I bought it at Joanne’s in the upholstery tool section of the store.
The secret here, was to wrap very tightly. I didn’t use any glue, just tucked my ends in as I wrapped. This took a lot more string than I thought, which required a second trip to the store. Frustrating, and I thought I was good at math! Lesson learned, always get a little extra.
Finally a finished lamp!
The last photo was taken with my camera. It looks a little more focused than the iphone photos, but all in all, with a little practice I think the iphone will work in a pinch for useable blog photos. What do you think?