Monday, June 14, 2010

Frankenstein Revisited

I must get the ceiling fixture for the stairwell re-wired before the scaffolding goes up. I would kick myself if I was finished with everything except for the re-wire and then had to leave the scaffolding up for another day or two while I ran new wire in the chandelier. There is no reason not to do it. This is a good mid-week project.

So tonight I went up to the closet where I've kept all of the lighting over the years. I went on a bit of a spending spree on antique lighting right after buying the house. It really became an obsession. Not just with the style of lighting but also with getting a good deal. I would bid on any 1890s to 1910 fixture that came up on eBay that was in original condition (i.e. original finish and never been re-wired).

This behavior is not normal for me. I really am a less-is-more kind of guy. I don't collect or horde, and I rarely buy things I don't need. For about 2 years I went nuts with antique lighting, though. Rarely did I spend more than $150 on a fixture and often much less. When all was said and done I actually bought more fixtures than I need for the house. I have resold 4, that I can remember.

To date I have rewired and hung 14 fixtures in the house. All of them date from the 1890s to about 1910. I thought I had only 2 left in the closet. One is the tall 3 arm chandelier that I plan on hanging in the stairwell and the other is a some what plain 2 arm chandelier that, if the truth be told, was a bit if a mistake. The style is not quite right. I'm sure it was an impulse buy where my opening bid matched the opening bid of the auction. Who knows what I paid for it, but it was probably less than $50.

This is the one I plan to hang in the stair well. It is 54-inches tall, which is too tall for most of my rooms. Did that stop me from bidding? No!

Ignore the dust. Remember, it has been hanging in an open closet for 6 years in a house undergoing restoration.

However, there was a 3rd chandelier in the closet hiding behind an old shirt and pair of pants I had used to do some plaster work years back. In a house this large that is so underutilized it is easy for something to be hung or dropped some place and then not be touched again for years. It is not something I'm proud of, but it is a fact of life.

Fixture used as hanger. Only in an old house.

So there it has been all of this time, just hanging there. It is very nice. In fact, it is as nice or nicer than any of the other chandeliers I've hung in the house. The main reason I never hung it is because it is so nice. This is the type of fixture that should be in a main room of the house. It would really be out of place hanging in the kitchen or laundry room. The problem was, I already had all of my main rooms taken care of. One of the first purchases I made was a set of 3 chandeliers and an additional ceiling fixture that all came out of the same house in Main. The three chandeliers, while not identical, obviously are from the same manufacture. One went in the dining room and the other 2 went in the front and back parlor.

Fixture in the front parlor.

So there this other fixture has hung in the closet for all of these years, hanging behind some crusty old plastering clothes. When I went up to get the 54-inch chandelier I noticed the other one for the first time in a long time. I do remember purchasing it because I got a great deal on it. It does have one issue and that is that it is more me, it has more patina on it than most of this period that are in “original condition”. I mostly swoon over patina and original condition. Some would polish the brass until they see their reflection, but I actually like the aged look of the brass.

It is hard to tell behind the dust and grime seen in the picture, but this one has an excessive amount of “patina”.Honestly, it looks like it was in a fire. Some parts of it are just black. It would be perfect if it were a little taller. Say, 54-inches.

Ding! {light bulb goes off}

Yes, you've probably figure out the plan by now. In case you haven't, I plan to take them both apart and remake them with the base of one and the top of the other. I'm sure to many this is a big yawn fest, but for me it is a big deal. For some reason, antique lighting has always been somewhat sacred to me. I don't swap around parts or cut them down. I don't polish them up or try and add more patina. With the exception of new wire I want them to look like they were hung in the house in 1895 and never touched again.

So I will be in uncharted territory. Messing with things the Universe never intended for me to mess with. If I'm successful it will no doubt bother for weeks after it is hung. Every time I walk down the stairs I will know there is a freak of nature hanging in the stair hall. I can only hope it doesn't put on an ill-fitting sport coat and wreak havoc on the neighborhood, only to be hunted down by the town folks.

Or perhaps I'me over-reacting once again.


Holyoke Home said...

Oooh! Lovely. What else you got hiding in that closet?

NV said...

No yawning here, Greg! What a great idea. Can't wait to see some shades on this beauty. (And maybe some candle-type bulbs?)

Greg said...

Hmmm, yes, perhaps there is the work of an old master leaning against the wall behind and old drop cloth.


Oy! Shades! I guess I should start looking now.


Joosmeister said...

Hardy boring... I bought fixtures specific to the period of my house and rewired them. For some reason I was terrified of soldering but it was one of the easier things I've had to do.