Thursday, February 27, 2014

Light Fixture Before and After: From Arts & Crafts Clunker to Craftsman Couture

By Gretchen Sawatzki

As restoration specialists we get a lot of projects that walk through our doors. Whether it's a door that needs stripping or light that needs new wiring, we conquer it all in a small shop located in the basement level of our 15,000 square foot showroom. Like many of our projects we never quite know what is going to be involved in turning some of the ugliest things into sparkling charmers. But with the right eye for details, a few hours, and forty years of experience, even one of our latest projects, an antique Arts & Crafts style light fixture fixer-upper can make an impactful transformation.

So, what's involved in taking this clunky hunk of metal from dull to decorator-friendly? About seven hours and dozens of steps. The pictures below give you an idea of how this process works.

Our latest project, this Arts & Crafts style light fixture arrived to our shop with bent socket covers, twisted arms, and a not-so-flattering paint job, all of which were in need of some dire help.
We start the restoration process by taking the light fixture apart. By doing this we can assess all of the fixture's needs, and determine what is salvageable and what needs to be replaced. 
Then we strip the disassembled light fixture of all of its paint and clean the metal using a wire brush. At this time was also heat the metal and remove any dings, dents, twists or bends, and add the finished patina.
After the light fixture has been bent back into shape, our Lighting Specialist, Bill Weber begins reassembling the light fixture piece by piece checking it for any dings or dents he may have missed before he starts the rewiring process.
After the new wiring and sockets have been added for safety,  we check the wiring with a test-run to make sure each socket is functioning properly. Then we select period-specific antique shades to accompany the finished light fixture.
And, finally after all of that work, our once ugly eyesore of a light fixture emerges as a one-of-a-kind Arts & Crafts charmer!
Like any project, it takes time and well-practiced hands to get the job done right.  Bill may make this look easy, but not all projects are what they may seem. So, if you are in need of restoration help come on by the shop, we'd be happy to take on your challenge!

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