Friday, March 24, 2017

5 Must-See Creative Industrial Light Fixtures

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Industrial style lighting for the home or office is the perfect style to experiment with. Industrial light fixtures can be sleek and streamlined, or an amalgam of repurposed materials, which offers a wide range of styles to choose from. Here are 5 unique industrial light fixtures that represent the kinds of the great options out in the world.

Antique schoolhouse style industrial light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

If you're a "purist" who enjoys antiques, consider antique schoolhouse style industrial light fixtures. These fixtures were found in hospitals, schools, offices, churches, and even apartment buildings around the turn of the 20th century. They are easy to find and are often available in numbers. They are a great option for minimalists, purists, and those who like sleek and simple design.

Custom industrial electrified gas light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

If you like antiques, but want something a bit more unique, there's the perfect custom industrial light fixture for you - formerly a gas lantern, this custom light fixture repurposes old lantern parts while maintaining its original lantern feel. You don't have to worry about the gas, since it has been fully electrified. It provides the look and warm glow of an old lantern without the hassle.

Custom industrial style table lamp made from a repurposed hand pump.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

If you're interested in something repurposed with industrial parts, this table lamp has a lot to offer. Similar to the repurposed gas lantern, this antique water pump industrial table lamp offers the same antique charm and custom craftsmanship. This is for the adventurous buyer, as it will certainly be the topic of conversation!

Antique repurposed funnel industrial style light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

When you think industrial, farm equipment may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but for this custom light fixture it started off at the homestead and has been customized for the home. Made from a galvanized steel tractor funnel, this light fixture is quirky, charming, and perfect for your country chic, industrial, or eclectic space.

Antique repurposed hay bale hook industrial style light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

The perfect blend of industrial and farm is married in this custom industrial hay bale light fixture. Not only does this look mechanical and heavy duty, but is also blends industrial rough metal edges with sleek and simple classic green light fixture shades. Perfect for an office, above a pool table, or in a kitchen, this industrial fixture makes a statement without all the decoration.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Staff Picks: Our Materials Unlimited Favorites

By Gretchen Sawatzki
Antique French Art Deco light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited

The staff at Materials Unlimited see a lot of great antiques come through the door and at any given moment we have our favorites. Here's our current list of staff picks!

1. Antique French Art Deco Three Arm Bowl Fixture

This beautiful antique Art Deco light fixture is our General Manager, Scotty's current favorite. "This [light fixture] represents a complete design: the grape and grape leaf motif is carried out on all of the glass as well as the canopy."

Signed "Noverdy, France, Depose," this fixture embodies all the beauty that makes up classical French Art Deco design of the 1920s.


2. Antique Gothic Ceiling Light Fixture

Antique Gothic light fixture.
Photo by James Wilson.
Massive in scale, and unique in design, this ecclesiastical Gothic light fixture pick is brought you courtesy of our Director of Marketing & Advertising, James. "I love the fact that we saved 9 of these fixtures from the Genessee County Property Impound. They were confiscated from a Gothic church located in Flint, Michigan that was built in the 1920s. All of the fixtures needed restoration and we were able to combine parts from several fixtures to fully-restore a few. The left over parts were repurposed to make new, custom fixtures."

3. Antique Late Victorian Quartersawn Oak Full Mantel

This antique Late Victorian quartersawn full mantel pick is our Architectural Preservation & Design Consultant Michael's favorite item in the shop right now! "It is a quintessential example of the 'Massive Mode'... that form otherwise referred to generically as 'Late Victorian'. Heavy, chunky detailing, oversized scale, and a combination of stylistic motifs such as foliate curl carvings, architectural forms, and early Neoclassical themes are hallmarks of this relatively short, transitional period of furniture and interior architectural ornamentation. It serves as transitional style between the Renaissance Revival style ornamentation and the emergence of Arts and Crafts forms." And, if Michael hasn't convinced you of how amazing this mantel is, "we also resurrected this piece...it had a dark and heavy plastic-like finish, and we completely stripped, repaired, and reassembled it. It's a lovely snapshot of what we can do and offer here, both on the sales floor and the restoration shop."

To see our restoration of this one-of-a-kind mantel, check out our blog post, Before and After: Antique Full Mantel.

Antique Late Victorian quartersawn oak full mantel.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.


The next staff pick comes courtesy of Shipping Coordinator, Sales Associate, and Wizardess, Hannah. "One of my current favorites is a simple, little pendant [light] fixture. I like the simple lines, they compliment and really showcase the elegant Art Nouveau floral motif. The combination of colors used with the floral design evokes the artwork of [illustrator] W.W. Denslow."



The last staff pick comes courtesy of yours truly, Social Media Specialist, Gretchen. To quote myself, "I've always admired the bold geometric shapes and simplicity of Art Deco design, but my absolute favorite Art Deco items are always the petite porcelain bathroom wall sconces. Their shape, minimalist design, and charm always bring a smile to my face, plus they can be installed in any type of bathroom, whether it be a historic restoration or contemporary home, they just work!" For more on porcelain light fixtures check out our blog post, Porcelain Light Fixtures of the 1920s. 

Antique Art Deco porcelain wall sconce.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Photo Friday: Arts and Crafts Light Fixture with Art Glass Shades

By Gretchen Sawatzki

The Arts and Crafts Period (roughly 1860-1930) was an era defined by handmade, well-crafted products for the home. Rather than manufacture products using mass-produced methods, artisans of the period focused on the beauty and simplicity of the handcrafted. Nowhere was this more apparent than the handcrafted light fixtures of the era.

Antique handcrafted Arts and Crafts period light fixture.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited


This antique Arts and Crafts era light fixture features hammered iron and a brass plated finish. Its rectilinear shape speaks to its simplicity while the Steuben gold aurene art glass shades add a touch of  iridescent sparkle and a colorful flare. Crafted circa 1910, this antique demonstrates the finest artisan work of the era.

Detail of Steuben gold aurene art glass shades.
Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Project Planning: Vintage Finds for Your Outdoor Living Space

By Gretchen Sawatzki

With the winter thaw fast-approaching and spring on its way it's time to change gears from indoor hibernation to outdoor relaxation. There's no better time than the present to start planning your outdoor spring projects, so why not include your outdoor living space in your project plans?

Mixing contemporary decor with antique and vintage items is a great way to add unique flare to your favorite outdoor living space. With many antique and vintage shops looking to clear their shelves for the new year, you can often find great deals on beautiful furnishings just before spring. Here are a few great antique and vintage items we found that are perfect for outdoor living.

Vintage outdoor garden bench. Photo by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited
Outdoor Bench

It may seem obvious to include a bench in your outdoor living space, but it really is the perfect seating option. A stone garden style bench can hang out in the elements of all four seasons only needing a tarp to cover it in the winter months, this is the quintessential seating option. Worried about comfort? Add a couple of cushions with outdoor fabric for added touch of comfort.

Outdoor Table and Chairs

Again, this seems like another obvious pick for an outdoor living space, however table and chairs come in many forms to suit many needs. An antique or vintage cafe style table and chairs is a great outdoor option. Not only can eat your breakfast daydreaming that you're in a cafe in Paris, but you also get the vintage charm of a beloved classic design.

Antique cafe style table and chairs. Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited


Antique Fence or Gate

Antique wrought iron fence. Photo by Hannah Manning for
Materials Unlimited
Nothing adds more charm to an outdoor garden than an antique wrought iron fence or gate. Available in many sizes and designs, you often find enough antique fence sections or a functioning gate to create the perfect partition for your outdoor oasis. When considering antique wrought iron, be sure to check for rust and properly seal the metal with a clear coat paint to protect it from water and ice.


Antique Wheel Barrow

Want something unique in your outdoor space that offers charm and an industrial element? Try displaying an antique wheel barrow in your outdoor space. They are a great conversation starter, can be repurposed into a flower pot or herb garden, or could serve as your outdoor bar cart. It's easy to locate old wheel barrows. If you can't find one at your local antiques store check flea markets or yard sales.

Antique primitive style wheel barrow. Photo by Hannah Manning for
Materials Unlimited
Found Objects

Want to add finishing touches on your outdoor space? Using found objects like architectural fragments, old stone statuary, and other metal objects. They are strictly decorative but all a nice touch where finishing touches are often left out.

Antique building fragment. Photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Thursday, February 16, 2017

When to Buy an Antique vs. a Reproduction

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Top: New clawfoot tub; Below: Antique tub
Restoring a historic bathroom or kitchen in an old home can be a challenge. Finding period appropriate fixtures from antiques and vintage stores can also be difficult to find. And, when you do find the right antique fixture it sometimes doesn't fit, so what can you do? You can stick with the antiques or try new reproduction products that might solve the problem.

Reproduction products come in all types of finishes and period designs. They may look identical to the "real" thing, however they are manufactured with different methods and materials, making them less durable than their vintage counterparts. There are however great reproductions available when you can't find the perfect antique.

Antique clawfoot tubs are a dream and they are coveted finds. When you can find an antique clawfoot tub in good condition, it's worth the investment, however today's reproductions by Sign of the Crab offer the same luxury and beauty as the antique tubs and can be in ordered in a number of sizes.

Antique lighting is another great place to spend some money if you're looking for something unique or made of a particular material. Industrial style lighting is often easy to find at local antique shops and with a quick re-wiring kit from B&P Lamp Supply you can make your slick vintage find into a safe and functional fixture. If you aren't that handy however there are great reproduction light fixtures available through online retailers like Rejuvenation.

Left: reproduction light fixture; Right: restored antique light fixture

Antique hardware is always a great find that is often easy to repurpose for a modern application. The challenge with hardware is finding multiples of the same drawer pulls, knobs, or keyhole covers. When you can find a vintage set of hardware, it's good advice to take it home. If you aren't so lucky with locating a set however there are a number of online companies that offer worthy reproductions including Rejuvenation and WSI Distributors.

Above: Set of vintage drawer pulls; Below: reproduction drawer pull

When you're working on a restoration project it's best to use antique and vintage fixture whenever possible - they look great, age gracefully, were crafted to last, and are eco-friendly. But, if you can't find the right antique or vintage fixture, you can always opt for the reproductions.


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Photo Friday: Antique Barber Shop Cabinet

By Gretchen Sawatzki

Unusual antique barber shop cabinet,
photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited.


This antique barber shop cabinet has all the doors and drawers a barber could ever need. Made of mahogany, this unusual cabinet features an inlaid top, a backsplash that opens for additional storage, and Bakelite hardware. A gem from the 1930's and completely unique this piece of furniture makes a great storage piece for any home.

Flip top backsplash for extra storage,
photo by Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited