Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A little lamp lunacy

October 2011

It's says so, right down there in the corner on my blogger profile: I buy ugly lamps. Or at least, I buy lamps that other people consider ugly. Friend Kristy has this expression she tossed off on a recent antiquing foray: "I will try to be supportive." Though at the time she was commenting on one of my other obsessive compulsive disorders (junk costume jewelry) people often say this and similar things to me about my lamp lunacy. I'll just say that I tend not to like any lamp made after about 1978, when people's tastes went completely safe, boring, and brass finish.

Combine that with my curbside shopping habit and my wee problem with spray paint, and you have my last lamp adventure. My twins Ben and Joe share a room in the new (old) house and the theme, if you can call it one, is sort of "navy blue/travel/masculine/plaid" with the influence of mid- to late- Lego disaster (their contribution). The bedroom came with an L-shaped built in desk (more on that in future posts). I was looking for a lamp that would a) look cool b) survive two seven-year-old boys, c) come in under $20.

This is what I found laying in the gutter on my way to work one morning:
Lovely, no? 
Yep, the gutter. 

But it was free, and it worked. (Note: In the near background you can see the weirdo pink painted drawers of a dresser I found in the basement. Another blog post for another day. Same sort of 'sow's ear, silk purse' sort of category.)

In October we were having unbelievably bright, warm, still days, perfect for spray painting. So I trussed this thing up a little like we have here:

I'd like a permanent wave and pedicure, please.

.....And I decked myself out in a trash bag apron (no, no picture of that one-- so glad you asked!).
With a can of red spray paint we got to this point. Coming along nicely I think: 

This would make a great nail polish color.
A little crack in the grain of the wood got a little larger as I painted. The perfectionist in me would have stopped right there, let the paint dry, cursed a little, gone back to Lowe's (which is one long-arse haul in this town), bought wood filler, fixed the crack, sanded it down, smoothed the finish, and then, only then, gone back to the spray paint. Generally, I like to keep the perfectionist in me tied up and and her mouth duct-taped shut, because I like to get these projects finished in something under a week. It's a gutter lamp, remember?

I bought a cheap fabric shade from Target but got stuck for a while trying to decide what to do with it. I'd covered lamp shades with fabric before, but it resulted in medication and therapy. And any fabric I could find in the short term was going to cost money. It was my teenage son who had a light bulb moment and pulled a stack of folded National Geographic maps out of some old issues of the magazine. Spray adhesive and I never play well together and there are a few dry edges I wish had turned out better. Also, covering a lamp shade with a map makes you realize how funky the three dimensional world is and how Papua New Guinea simply disappears from Lampshade World. From gutter to bedroom we ended up here (alas, without Papua New Guinea):

We are also missing the Fiji Islands, but New Jersey survived. Go figure.
The project altogether probably only just squeaked in under $20, with spray paint at five bucks a can and the lampshade at almost $14. Still, I found lamps of comparable sizes/styles online new from $50 on up to the stratosphere of $300 (really? for a kid's room?).

That's what I like about thrift rehabs. They give you psychological breathing room. If you owned a $300 lamp you'd be examining every fingerprint and ding, exasperated (did I mention this was a kid's room? just checking). With this option, a wrecked shade is annoying but hardly catastrophic. If I decide I hate it I can cover the shade with something else or even repaint it. If I get tired of it, I can most likely get a few bucks from it on the garage sale. And like a good citizen, I raised the life of a good lamp out of the gutter and into a decent suburban home. Don't thank me. It's the least I could do.

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