Thursday, October 23, 2008


You know how sometimes you procrastinate and procrastinate and then you finally get off your ass and realize that it probably took more of your time & energy to procrastinate than to do whatever it was? Yup, that's me on this lighting project for the kitchen.

We bought 2 of these lights off Ebay about, oh, 2 years ago. These were the photos they were sold with - they looked absolutely hideous but for something like $15 for the pair, and with those Bungalicious square loops (the diamondy-shaped connectors) staring at me, we took the chance.

We immediately tossed the clown bulbs (who puts these things on a nice old fixture - or anywhere? Bozo?). Then I got a couple of old Hubbell fitter rings & adapters off Ebay. Those are hard buggers to get your hands on! Then I stuck them in the 'to-do' cabinet (dining room buffet, where else do people keep all their miscellaneous house hardware and metal parts? Duh!). Then we found pretty shades (4) and re-did the kitchen. I also managed to get, on interlibrary loan, this old book about rewiring light fixtures, and photocopied the relevant parts. That was last summer.

Then we re-did the kitchen, leaving 2 holes where those lights would eventually go. The holes are all fitted with nice new work boxes and wired up, ready for the fixtures. We found and installed a center light - this one is vintage but someone else fixed it up & rewired it. We paid a bit more, but I was not very confident in my non-procrastinating, so we went the easy way. Anyways, we installed that guy recently and used 2 of our matching mission-style shades, and it looks awesome. See the 2 holes in the background?

There they are again. Taunting us. Where are the fixtures? Are you ever going to finish? We look pretty tacky, just holes in the ceiling. Hello?

So the first step was to take apart the lights and clean them, then we'll re-wire, replace sockets and the threaded rod, and install. The cleaning was what I had been so lazy about. Ken tested out an old piece of brass we had with the Dremel and a buffing wheel, and it worked great. That was about a year ago, mind you. So last night, I got everything together and sat down to buff. Buff like the wind! The buffing didn't work real well, so remembering that I had just brass polished the heck out of some hooks for the mudroom, I decided to just try that.
First, I checked to make sure everything was solid brass. Everyone know how to do that? It's a simple physical chemistry problem. If a magnet doesn't stick to it, it's solid. Scrub away! If a magnet does stick, it's brass plated over steel. Don't scrub, be very careful not to take the plating off. Easy enough. I used one of Beth's super-sticky-mini-magnets (love them!) to check - and we were golden. Or brassy, I guess. I could scrub to my heart's delight.

The goop came right off, polishing it up to a gorgeous shine. There are some very minor polishing marks, but I really don't care - they're easily buffed out so we won't worry. So from this pile, we'll make some lights over the next couple weeks (waiting for our vintage style lamp wire to arrive):

By the way, you might wonder why we are polishing the brass to shininess - when we're so into patina. Well, the pieces were in really, really bad shape, and had all been scraped, scratched, painted, and tarnished in odd, irregular ways. The idea is that you polish them at the beginning, then let them patina again (it won't take long). The key with brass is to keep your fingers off - the oil from fingertips will make them tarnish in funny polka dot patterns. So if we can keep our mitts off, we should have a nice even patina soon enough.
And I can't resist listing this site, where those interested in the history of light sockets should go, post-haste. There's also plenty of info about fixtures and other bits of lighting history.


Jennifer said...

Those are going to look nice.. and yo can't beat the price!

Karen Anne said...

What's a Hubbell fitter ring & adapter?

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