Pandemic Lighting

Pandemic Lighting

I have been thinking lately of the lighting projects that I have tackled over the past couple years while the world patiently waits for COVID-19 to go away, and realized that during this time, I have basically installed about 50% of the house lighting. So I started digging through my pictures for a good “before and after” blog post.

In October of 2020, I pulled the paint off of this badly rusted metal ceiling fixture and sprayed each piece with a rust preventing primer before painting it a glossy white to match the ceiling. Crystal Cut bulbs (which burn out a lot since my child leaves the light on) finish off the look. New sockets, wiring, and pull switch (which you cannot reach because it is 8.5 feet off the ground) were added.

Meanwhile in the dining room, I had been gifted Milk Glass Sconces from a friend. I knew I had to add hard wiring and replace some of the broken/bent pieces. This was my first attempt at “making a lamp”. Google is a wonderful thing and allowed me to identify each part of a sconce and purchase them online.

Next I started to work on these tulip shaped wall sconces. They had so many layers of yellow and blue paint on them, that it took several efforts to get rid of all the paint. They were probably originally either brass or silver plated, which with age and paint removal had also gone, but I liked the dark look as a contrast to the blue walls. I added sockets, pull chains and acorn finials to the bottom.

The Laundry Room/Mud Room was once the back porch. A previous owner enclosed it entirely and the washer and dryer now live there… the ceiling is slanted, making it difficult for lighting. When we moved in there was actually a dust encrusted ceiling fan there. This overly painted little light was simply stripped and polished. I purchased new sockets and cloth wire for a more period look and hung it with crystal cut exposed bulbs.

When I saw this light on Etsy, I had to send the owner a note to ask if it was brown or brass as he had said. I took a chance… The light was filthy, as you can see from the comparison of the glass. This took some time to polish, due to the extreme tarnish. I had to look up how to remove the pink from brass to get this one to sparkle.

I had coveted these oil lamp bases on Etsy for over a year when I finally got the nerve to purchase them and create a lamp. I knew the look I wanted, and used mostly left over pieces from my stockpile of lamp parts. I gold chose cloth cords and navy lampshades.

Meanwhile, in the living room, I had picked up this 1930s torchier lamp on Facebook for $10. There was a crack in one of the pieces, and while pieces of the the cast iron still had its brass coating, the aluminum pole was missing most of its brass, so it received rust preventing primer and gold spray paint. I visited a couple stores to find the right socket and replaced the cord with a cloth covered one appropriate for the age. Then I splurged on the shade that i had come across after months of searching on Ebay.

I purchased four of these sconces on consignment from a Wisconsin Catholic Church building. The idea was to swap out the hall and living room sconces with these… NOPE, it took over six months of plotting to get these things up. The problem was the sconces had no switch… but the locations were not wired to a wall switch. Finally I was able to put these up on Christmas Eve.

Emboldened by my Christmas Eve accomplishment, I trudged forward to put the remaining two sconces in the living room/ parlor. The delicate blue flowers compliment the blue tile on the fireplace below.

After the Living Room/Parlor Christmas tree came down, the corner chair I had refurbished in November found its permanent home, but there was something missing, something tall, a lamp! This broken bridge arm lamp from the Art Deco period needed love, it was just $20 on Facebook. I utilized cold welding (JB Weld) on the cast iron arm, and figured if it didn’t work, I would replace the arm… but it is holding. The cast iron had lost its brass coating, so it was painted and a new socket and cloth covered wire were added. The shade I found on EBay, has an adorable silhouette on it. My child is fond of turning it on and off with the switch, I really hope it doesn’t end up in pieces on the floor!

This is my current “in-work” project. I plan on installing this in the back stair from the 2nd floor hall to the kitchen. What is there now, was a temporary thing I threw up when we opened the stairwell. I know this might seem “fancy” for the back stair, but there is no door closing it off from the hallway and it can be seen from everywhere. Also, since I AM the servant, I want something pretty in my staircase. Again, the brass had not survived, so it was cleaned and painted. Removing and replacing the wire through the small U-shaped arms was not easy… but my child’s fuzzy pipe cleaners worked wonders! The sockets were replaced and I even found vintage crystals to replace the ones that were not there… but the little holes were there. I am held for a round mirror for the center (see my cardboard template?). I would LOVE to waddle over to my local mirror and glass store and have a 3 1/4″ diameter mirror cut, but alas, I am in quarantine with my child. So it sits, patiently waiting for my 10 day sentence to be over.

And there we have it… I never thought I would be able to wire a lamp, but owning an old house and being stuck at home has taught me this, nothing is out of my skill set. I have tackled carpentry, plumbing, electrical, drywall and plaster, painting, furniture repair, upholstery, window glazing, and landscaping. The only thing I haven’t done is roofing, and who knows, if I continue to stay at home, that might even be something I learn.

Stay safe and be kind!