We keep a large selection of the world's flotsam and jetsam in our stash at the studio for use in making recycled, re-purposed and re-imagined household items. We are particularly fond of making Steampunk style lighting fixtures. We buy interesting parts all the time because you never know what you will need or what will work together. Sometimes a new find is just the spark that is needed to put an earlier find to use.
Step 1: Parts
We pick up items that have a certain character and personality of their own because we know that they are a great starting point on which to build. We pull out a lot of pieces parts and try combining them in various ways until we have a combination that looks right. That is how we came to use an Eiffel Tower lamp base, and umbrella shaped bird feeder cover, a mesh pencil cup, and an antique insulator to make this lamp. (Note: we ended up NOT using the second cage in our picture.)
Other items we've used in the past include old oil lamps, glass domes, pulleys and old wooden wheels for lamp bases and copper bowls, wire fruit baskets and industrial cage lights for lampshades.
You'll also need an assortment of general electrical parts. For this project we ended up using:
- candelabra socket
- threaded 1/8th IP pipe sections
- hickey (yes there is a lamp part called a hickey)
- knurled nuts, steel nuts, washers, lock washers
- electrical cord
- C-bracket harps
- brass support bar
- candelabra light bulb
- inline switch
- zip ties
- matte black paint
Step 2: Creative Consolidating
Experiment phase! We started by stacking the parts together to determine the proportions. The Eiffel Tower style lamp base gave us a good head start and would just need wiring.
Step 3: Fine Tuning How Things Fit
We trimmed the pencil cup down using tin snips so that the bottom of the umbrella shade came to the top of the insulator. We drilled a 1/2 inch hole in the bottom of the pencil cup. The light bulb is not hot but the mesh cylinder formed by the pencil cup would be a nice way to ventilate a lamp if needed.
Step 4: Getting Serious - a Little Drilling and a Little Painting
We marked the center of the top of the insulator and drilled a hole using a 1/2 inch diamond core bit in a cordless drill. When drilling glass put it in a container so that it is just covered by water. The key is to keep the glass wet and the drill dry. Start the bit at an angle until it has "bitten" into the glass and then gradually straighten the drill up as you drill until it is straight.
We wiped all the parts that were to be painted with a deglosser to make sure that the paint would adhere well. Then we spray painted the pencil cup and a few miscellaneous small pieces flat black.
Step 5: Settling in the Light Bulb JUST Right - Step 1
We knew we wanted the light to shine through the insulator so we had to create what's called a "harp" to fit inside of the insulator to hold the socket and light bulb. (We also thought ahead with this assembly, adding a threaded post so that the umbrella shade can be removed to change the light bulb.)
First we altered two "C" bracket harps by putting them into a vise and pounding them into long narrow squared off "U" shapes. We calculated what length the harp needed to be and soldered them together with some brass support bar. Our photo shows the harp with the added "hickie" used in the next step.
Step 6: Settling in the Light Bulb JUST Right - Step 2
We then threaded the finished harp and a hickey onto a 3 inch post of 1/8th IP pipe. That assembly screwed through the upturned insulator and into the top of the lamp base.
Step 7: Settling in the Light Bulb JUST Right - Step 3
We installed the candelabra socket from the top of the harp by screwing it to the end of a 2.5 inch section of 1/8th IP pipe and holding it in place with a locking washer and a knurled nut. We threaded another knurled nut onto the pipe before putting the pipe through the hole in the top of the harp pushing it through from the underside of the hole. The placement of that knurled and two more knurled nuts threaded onto the pipe from the upper side of the harp determined how far the socket and light bulb hung into the insulator. The two knurled nuts on top also hold the socket assembly securely in place. (Our photo show this assembly, along with the wiring to follow.)
Step 8: Wiring Up Your Lamp
Next we cut about 8 feet of lamp cord and ran it up through the lamp base, through the pipe, hickey and harp. We threaded it out through one of the side holes in the harp, split and stripped the end of it and wired lamp cord to the screws on the candelabra socket. We then tied the cord to the harp with a black zip tie. The upper end of the 1/8th IP pipe continues through the upturned pencil cup and then through the umbrella shade.
With the interior wiring all done, all that's left is to wire in the inline switch along the cord and wire in the plug.
Step 9: Add Your Shade and You're Done!
Drill a 1/2" hole in your shade for the 1/8th IP pipe and finish off with the bright brass finial.
We hope we've laid some groundwork for you to build upon. The lamp you make will be unique and original and will be dependant on all the bits and bobs that you find in your travels.