13 February 2014

It's Lighting Time Again!

I believe I mentioned that I have a couple of antique (maybe?  Not sure exactly how old they are, maybe 1960s), homemade light fixtures given to me by a friend last Summer.  In an effort to get some of the project backlog in my garage dealt with (because my garage is starting to look like a junkyard), I decided to tackle cleaning up and refinishing both of them this week.

This is the first.  It's a really lovely little design - I took the candle fixtures out before I took this photo; basically the lights "bloom" from lily flowers springing up from the base of the fixture and "growing" out along the frame.

The whole thing was painted gold and then gilt by hand;  both finish layers were peeling, rust was setting in, there were splotches of ceiling paint on one side where someone painted and didn't bag this thing beforehand.  The candle covers themselves, once white, were yellowed with age and cracked in a couple of places.

There was a LOT of disassembly on this light fixture (it seemed at the time), and cleaning it was rather difficult.  I scrubbed the whole thing down with steel wool and a toothbrush, and sanded the rust off of the worst of the rust spots; the cleaning also removed most of the gold leaf that had degraded and was already flaking off.   You can see in the above picture the difference in  color and tone, between the two round pieces in the foreground of the photo, and the lily flowers and chain in the back, which hadn't been cleaned yet.  Big difference!

The second chandelier was much simpler in basic design, but positively encrusted with glass crystals, all wired together with, I discovered, jewelry headpins.  Points for ingenuity, maker!

Believe it or not, but this photo was AFTER I'd already spent a good fifteen minutes removing crystals.  It may not need to be said, but I don't plan on putting all of them back!


The base underneath all that is pretty simple.  And it's in great shape.  The only thing I'm going to change is the color - I don't like this coppery gold, I want a paler gold, almost a champagne sort of color.  Fewer than half the original glass is going back on this thing (the rest is already earmarked for another lighting project), and what does return to the fixture will be arranged quite differently.

I don't have pictures of exactly where I'm hoping to take these pieces, but for now, here are a few inspiration photos:

(I'm kidding) 

More on these as work progresses!


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