Lamp repairs (sigh)

The water lily lamp is still happening, just slowly, so I’m going to talk about lamp repairs. We see a lot of broken lamps come and go at BHG, some of them are beautiful and some of them are not personal favorites of mine. Some are huge domed shapes, some are small panels, some have curved pieces (which we no longer repair for many reasons), and some are beyond any description (most fall into this category). Most of these lamps should just stay dead, but people have different tastes and that’s what makes the world interesting, right? These repairs are our main contact with lamps since we don’t build many (or any), and while we all moan when we see one coming through the front door, they do teach us a lot about how these beasts are constructed.

Most (I say most because we have had a very few lamps that were made by individuals that the owner knows) of the lamps that come through our door are mass-produced in the third-world, and while they are cheaply constructed and use unknown materials, especially for solder, they are put together the same way that my water lily lamp is made. Each piece is cut, ground, foiled and then soldered onto a shaped mold. Even though the solder is usually not friendly (unlike the normal solder we use that can be melted and re-melted a million times), we struggle through these repairs to pay the bills.

Mike tightening the lamp so pieces can be replaced.

Mike removing the dragonfly filigree wings.

The most recent repair is quite large, at about 24 inches in diameter, and was probably one of those rare pieces that was made as a single unit and not mass produced (we are not sure, just guessing). It had been knocked over and was broken in A LOT of places (lamp SMASH!), but mostly on one side. Two sections were also pulling apart (remember, these things are made in pattern repeats), so the damages were quite extensive. The first step was to remove some of the broken pieces and create a gap between the two sections so we could then make the gap smaller. Mike tightened the lamp much like how they tighten braces: he soldered a thin wire to two spots along the bottom, one spot on each section of the lamp. Then he started twisting the wire, slowly bringing the two soldered points closer to each other and therefore the two sections of the lamp together.

Mike uses a flashlight to see which pieces are broken.

Mike uses a flashlight to see which pieces are broken.

Once the sections that were pulling apart were back together again, Mike could start replacing the broken pieces, one at a time. We can’t remove every broken piece at once, because then we would lose the shade’s shape (we don’t have the mold they used to build it). We are looking for one of the glasses, but fortunately we had a sheet of the transparent red/amber mixture in stock when this guy came in. Hopefully we’ll find a suitable match, but honestly, matching glass is one of the hardest parts of repairs.

New pieces are soldered in individually.

New pieces are soldered in individually. You can see the wire used to tighten the lamp at the lower right.

Needless to say, this lamp is not fully repaired and will be a big project, just like the waterlily. But, like the water lily, it will get done. Eventually.


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