So we’ve moved into the new place, and it’s great, we’re really happy; but we needed more light than the ceiling fixtures provide. I have to mention, though, that the ceiling fixture in Patrick’s room is spectacular. It’s a crystal chandelier that can’t date from later than the Teens, and is shaped like Tovrea Castle turned upside-down.
The main object, which hangs from chains, is a broad brass ring or band, very ornate, bearing four Art Nouveau female heads that look like Glinda of Oz, each with a little brass tassel hanging under it. Alternating with the heads around this band are four dim little lightbulbs that look like ping-pong balls. Hanging down from the band are five successively smaller tiers of closely-spaced drop crystals. I added a faceted crystal sphere as a finial bit at the bottom. The whole thing is very pretty and more than a bit daft. Still, we needed more light.
This is why I’ve been getting into cheap lamps. One of the things that got me going was this site. I can’t tell what’s going on there, but it has something like four hundred different lamps on display, many of which are recognizably made from repurposed objects. When you look at so many, you see the form underneath: a lamp is just an electrical fixture, plus one or more bulbs, plus some kind of light-modifying shade. When you think about it that way…
Onward. If you’re serious about seizing control of the means of production, The Lamp Shop has, like, everything.
A mildly surprising number of people have made lamps out of AOL CDs. Other waster CDs can be used, but AOL is the obvious choice. (I’d be able to link to Jim Watters’ CD lamp design if he hadn’t exceeded his bandwith for this month, tsk.) Most designs call for drilling holes in the CDs and threading them onto rigid support rods two by two, each pair turned shiny-sides-out, separated from the next pair by washers or other spacers. Then you put a fluorescent tube up the middle. That 400+ lamp design site gets into the CD thing as well: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Since I know the subject must come up, dear hearts, I give you the Glowing Pickle Instructions; also The Pickle as Will and Idea; also the highly scientific Characterization of Organic Illumination Systems. If you’re a serious geek, with a garage full of equipment and spare parts (hello, Jordin), you can apparently make a very bright lamp indeed out of a pickle jar, though the recipe includes bits like “The lamp was powered using a small variac (variable auto transformer) and a step down transformer,” and “If you decide to try this, wear goggles in case the pickle jar implodes.”
I know shoji lamps are a cliche, but they’re also diverse, cheap, adaptable, easily replaced, and they make a beautiful light. We’ve got a 42” shoji globe hanging over our bed, and it’s like having a tame gas giant around.
I’m not sure those things are lamps, though. Call them illuminated art objects. They look like they’re going to hatch something strange.