That Dang Light

Hi Y’all! Long time. Guess what? I finally finished the bedroom light!

I had some setbacks, but it’s done, and I’m really happy with it. Remember back in March when I started all this? I spotted a type of light fixture on ebay I hadn’t seen before, but I wasn’t willing to spend what it sold for. So I hatched a plan and bought this chandelier to modify instead. As you can see it had hanging sockets, but not for long.

It arrived from the ebay seller as described: broken, discolored and as-is.

I began by taking everything apart that would come apart, and cutting away the old cloth-wrapped wiring. I got rid of the hanging sockets not intending to replace them.

Then I gave it a bath! It was… gross. I knew it had been repainted at least once so it couldn’t be a whole century’s worth of dirt, but it seemed like it.

I readied my supplies: plain old acrylic paint (metallics). I don’t know that this paint will last a hundred years, but I think it’ll survive on something that doesn’t get handled often.

I mixed a color I liked, a nice rosy gold and painted all visible parts with a brush. I didn’t want it to look like a flat spraypaint job, so when the gold was dry I went over it with a watered-down wash of black paint, wiping it away with a rag anywhere it was too obvious. This toned down the gold and gave it some patina and dimension.

This is how it looked:

It was okay, but in the months since I started this project, I had bought some gold leaf enamel that had worked well on the house numbers, so I decided to accent with it. It helped make it look more like metal and less like paint.

I also bought scraps of mica from another ebay seller who makes lampshades and proceeded to cut out the shade inserts. I bought silver mica, not the usual amber color. Turns out working with mica is pretty easy, at least for simple curves. It cuts with scissors and all you need to shape it is a heat gun, some tongs and patience.

To secure the mica panels in place I used a rubber compound called Sugru that Randall had given me. It sticks to what it’s molded to and cures in 24 hours. That’s what the black lumps are. It’s not the best looking adhesive but it was perfect for this.

Here’s how it looked all painted with the mica in place. It certainly is gold. Now I just needed to wire in some sockets.

MEANWHILE, we moved our giant bed and went up the ladder to see how the current light was rigged up. Bad news – it was affixed not only by screws but with paint and plaster. We would literally need to chisel it out, and we wouldn’t know how to rig the new canopy until we saw what was in the ceiling, with the power turned off all the while. So we moved the bed back and delayed. For months. Until finally one day I realized that our local hardware store sells all kinds of obscure chandelier parts, and I got my confidence back. Randall got the old light down with a chisel and hammer, and we went right back to the store to get the couplings and bolts we needed to hang it. We bought the canopy there too. It’s not a great style match, but it’ll do.

Finally, after heroically wrestling with bolts and wires for most of the afternoon, Randall succeeded in getting it operational.

When I got the silver mica I was a little disappointed that it just looked like parchment when held up to the light, but with a bulb it looks lovely and crystalline. It’s a nice soft light for the room with a great silhouette design. I’m really happy with it and stare at it a lot.

Category(s): Before and after, DIY
  • Clara Walker

    Your persistence is admirable.  I love seeing each project completed and they all look great together in your house.  I wonder what it will look like the next time I visit!