Monday, September 25, 2017

The Ugly Lamp - restoring a family heirloom part 2

More than two years ago I acquired a family heirloom known as the Ugly Lamp, and got the go-ahead from my family to repaint it however I desired, since NOBODY wanted the lamp.  I shared pics of it "as is", and told you all about the lamp and why/how I acquired it in a blog post, HERE.  As of today, after some minor touch-ups, the painting of the lamp is complete, and I want to share it with you.  I'm calling the color scheme "demented circus" though the original inspiration was designer McKenzie Childs.

I should explain, the lamp was carved by my woodcarver/furniture maker/sculptor grandfather Harry Levine, who I unfortunately never got to meet. Most of his carving work is much more sophisticated than this, and I'm hypothesizing, because of the intertwined initials and the crudeness of the sculpture, that perhaps he made the work early in his career, as a wedding gift for my grandmother. 
At the time of the original blog post, I had been cleaning the lamp in preparation for repainting.  I spent many hours washing and stripping it, first chemically, and when that became unsuccessful, using a delicate grinding tool to get rid of the old paint.  Finally, when I discovered a layer of what is called 'milk paint', I gave into my frustration and aborted the attempt to strip the paint.  I sprayed it with a coat of primer, took some photos of it, and used colored pencils on the photos to pick out a color scheme.  The pics above are the lamp when it first came into my possession, and after I started removing some of the paint.
I started painting the lamp, but I wasn't satisfied with the colors. I purchased more paint, and changed the colors several times.  Finally I gave up.  Almost two years passed and this August I decided it was time to get back to the project, and approached it with a fresh perspective.  And now I'm sharing with you the finished product!  The lamp is 3-sided, with a different engraving on the base of each side: a menorah (the top photo), my grandparents' intertwined initials (H for Harry, R for Rae; directly above), and on the third side, a Star of David (Jewish star) (pictured below). 
I don't know that my grandfather, Harry Levine, would have liked it, since his work was very traditional, but I think that my family is pleased with my renovation, and I'm pretty satisfied with it!  Here's the top, pictured below, not that it will be visible once it has a shade on it.
Now I've got two more decisions to make: first, I need to choose what to use for a final protective coat.  I'm torn between keeping the satin finish of the paint or possibly adding a hard gloss shine.  The second decision is the shade.  (My husband is going to rewire it while I figure this out.)  I've received suggestions to use a colored shade, such as green or yellow, but I prefer white because of the light quality.  I'm considering possibly painting some simple large spots of color on the white shade, using the same colors, or perhaps mimicking the shapes of the leaves with a line pattern or even a printed pattern.  So I will print a few photos of the base, and get out the colored pencils again, coloring my various options for lampshades.  I'll let you know what I decide and how it turns out!  (I may even turn to you for your opinions, not that I'll listen!)  Then the only other decision will be to figure out where to put the lamp, since it is rather substantial in size.  I may need to buy a table for it....

4 comments:

  1. As a lover of MacKenzie Childs, I adore what you have done. Clever idea to print photos and use colored pencils to test ideas!! When you are trying out ideas for the shade, how about trying out one using the black and white checks as trim at top and/or bottom of the shade??? Looking forward to seeing final result!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've considered that idea, but I'm worried it might be checkerboard overkill. But it will be one of the ideas I'll look at on paper.

      Delete
  2. This is so much fun to view- love all the colors and patterns. I personally would stay with satin finish (not even sure why, it just seems right) I'm looking forward to seeing your choice for lampshade. It will be a challenge selecting the size and shape! I can picture you taking this piece to a store and having the base "try on" various lampshades, as we would a hat. Very Project Runway! What ever you decide I know it will be fabulous- keep us posted!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh my. I hadn't even thought about taking the lamp into stores, but it's so big I might have to, to find an appropriate size shade!

      Delete