Happy sloppy, schweaty July!
I just want to say to the friends/fam who’ve been enthusiastic about my blog that I love you dearly. It’s fun to write about and have a receptacle for my projects, but it’s a really nice feeling to know that it brings some levity to people’s days.
First: A photo I took yesterday of sweet sweet little Ramona, perched on my cherished Terence Conran house books. Me-ow:
Speaking of levity. I confess to leaving Blogoland because working on things without Pete’s help, feedback, eyeballs, and approval made me incredibly sad. Many of the projects I have yet to do are things he gave me. I’ve also got boxes of his stuff in the basement that I’m slowly going through, and each time I come across something of his my heart hurts a little more. So I’ve been avoiding it.
But I must carry forth the wisdom of my teacher.
Lamps are a good way to ease back in, because they are totally fun and simple to rehab. Not quite instant gratification, but in the world of furniture it comes close. I always see them at estate sales, for not much moolah, and there are some really funky, excellent old fixtures to be had. They are also ridiculously easy to rewire. (Whenever I tell someone I’ve rewired a lamp they’re totally impressed, which is hilarious because it takes about five minutes and you can buy a kit at Home Depot for cheap.) Not much to it but to do it.
This lamp (one of a pair) sat in my closet at Mom’s house for years. After Pete died I decided to bring them home to work on:
They’re made of plaster, and I’m guessing they’re from the 50s or 60s (based on the wiring, which is similar to others I’ve worked on from that period). I think Mom said she and Pete picked them up at a sale for around $10.
My original plan was to paint them gold metallic (using leftover fireplace paint), but once I started priming them I loved the white, so I used BM’s Sheep’s Wool semigloss mixed with a little bit of the gold for a teeny amount of sheen. The big ticket items were the lampshades (about $100 apiece, handmade, bought at a shade store; the finials came from the discontinued bin, for $2 apiece). I never thought I’d spend so much on shades, but I’m okay with it because I think they turned out spectacularly.
While I was at it, I figured I’d tackle these teak lamps my mom and dad bought at Maurice Villency in the early 60s, shortly after they were married. These had been sitting in my basement since 2009, getting all kinds of filthy:
The wiring was fine and the teak was in good shape, but the brass bases needed some serious steel-wooling and polishing. I bought the burlap shades and column finials at the same store as the others. These were on sale, about $40 apiece.
Handsome fellows, right?
And now for a colorful little parade of the lamps I’ve accumulated over the years. You can tell I was really into 1950s granny lamps with the fiberglass shades (which I would dismantle, scrub down, and reattach with boondoggle lacing from the craft store—totally fun, and really cheap to do).
Above is one of my favorites—with the crazy carved Picasso-esque face. That’s a birdie Xmas ornament perched on top. Peter called this the “leg hair under pantyhose” shade.
This lily lamp is from the same litter as the leg-hair lamp. (One of the first sales I ever went to—and which I cleaned up at, too! I think I furnished half my Queens apartment from it.) I remember people were laughing at it. Jealousy is such a terrible thing.
I love this little dressing table lamp. I bought the pair at an antique store somewhere in Maryland when I was judging the Junior Miss pageant with my friend Robbie. That was one weird weekend.
These alabaster lamps I got from my friend and neighbor, Connie, when her brothers were cleaning out her house to sell. She intercepted them on their way to the trash and (naturally) handed them to me. They remain as-is till I have somewhere to use them.
Lastly, my latest acquisitions in the lamp department, bought last weekend at an estate sale near my house. Mom was visiting for her birthday, and two elderly siblings were selling the contents of their childhood home in anticipation of some jack-off builder’s wrecking ball. These lamps were still there with 30 minutes left of the sale, so, fearing their fate in some dumpster, I grabbed them (though I’m not sure what I paid; I had a whole bunch of goodies, and it was around $40 for the lot). Behold:
So, um, anyone need any lamps?
Love that you are carrying on the refurbishing tradition. You learned from the master, Mr. Pete.
You are so, so, so incredibly talented. I love what you do, especially with stuff from the 50’s/60’s.
Thank you kindly, sweet lady! Miss you.
Love em Sal and love the post. I’ll have to consult or witness a rewiring at some point. I’ve got a few that need to be rewired. Oh, we need to touch base as I’ll be through your hood in Sept; so we’ll see if it works out.
Yes! Bring your lamps and we’ll fix them up!
Those plaster floral pieces are something special! You have such a talent and you always inspire me when I read what you’re up to! Thanks for sharing, and I’m glad you’re finding some joy again through the sadness of a big loss.
Thanks Kim! I love the photos of your morphing home as well! Wish you were closer so we could do some sales together.