Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category


When centuries collide

August 19, 2017

Since lamp sales have slowed to a trickle, and I still have lots of inventory, I’ve had to scale back to just the occasional custom order. So to fill the void, I embarked on a new kind of upcycling project – new for me, that is.

My parents had, in their basement, an interesting old contraption that, when I did some research, turned out to be a very early-20th-century drafting table. Or at least its base, married to a not-lovely piece of green plywood.

Drafting table, before I got my hands on it

I liked the piece very much, but since I seem to have a surfeit of tables already, I wanted to find another purpose for it. After a few months of mulling it over, I came up with the notion of turning it into a stand for my television. And then eventually it occurred to me that, because the drafting table was tilt- (as well as height-) adjustable, rather than just sitting the flat screen in its pedestal on top, I could actually hang it. This in turn made it possible to add a shelf for a DVR below the screen.

All very good in theory.

After a road trip to collect the stand, I started to consider the practical details. I’d initially assumed I would paint the entire piece a uniform black, but first I had to strip off a couple of layers of old paint. When I started to uncover the bare metal, though, I began to fall in love with the accidental details of its age and working: tool and mold marks and signs of wear. So in the end, once I’d scraped and scrubbed away the old finish and slight corrosion, I sprayed on a lot of clear coat and left it at that.

Then I turned to the new pieces. I have a love-hate relationship with wood. I love the look of it but I don’t love working with it. Omitting the gory details, let’s just say I learned how to use a miter box, sort of. And as I was working on the back porch, my neighbors got an earful that day. Thankfully, that part of the stand is meant to be inconspicuous, and paint hides a multitude of sins.

Finally, I added casters to the legs so I could move the TV around as needed (the base alone, without the back or TV weighs upward of 40 pounds). Then it was just a matter of assembling all the parts, which as always was a lot harder than it had any right to be, IMO (rrrrr). And then of course changing my mind, taking it all apart to make adjustments, and (rrrrr) reassembling it.

So (drumroll) here’s my new steampunk flat screen stand:

The cords are hidden in the hose-y thing.

All the pretty adjustment thingys.

A little bit closer

This was hidden under a coat of paint. No date, but a definite point of origin.


Tempus fidget

March 25, 2017

Time flies, whatever you’re doing, or not doing.

I haven’t posted in months, but I have been making – or I was for awhile, before I got busy with other stuff. And I’m still at an impasse about how worthwhile it is to keep doing the same thing. I might need a new playground. Or maybe just a time-out. Or perhaps I’m waiting for a sign.


Regardless, I thought I’d at post some photos of my last few projects, for anyone as in need of distraction as I am.

Take one stand mixer, gut and clean it. Reassemble with a three-way touch switch and a cocktail shaker shade. Doubles as a charging station!

What You Will stand mixer desk lamp

Marry two colanders, a thermos, a percolator bubbler, other bits and bobs: Presto shadow! tabletop colander shadow lantern

Make a metal flower from gooseneck lamp parts and a salad mold. Use it to interrogate the cat.

Grandiflora Sasquatch gooseneck desk lamp

Details at



February 17, 2015


This project was a collaboration. My friend Ami was wanting a cool lamp for her living room, and she had this nice old dress form. So I idly said why not use that?

She thought no at first but then a day or so later changed her mind. But where I’d thought floor lamp, Ami wanted a table lamp, and wanted to use a wide straw hat she had as a shade.

The hat was challenging, since it was so shallow. But structurally the dummy turned out to be pretty easy to work with. Off its stand it sat quite stably, it already had a center pole for attaching a socket (though it was an odd size), and the outer pieces could be moved for access, since the form was adjustable.

Ami came over, and we went through my parts trove. For awhile, nothing seemed to work. Then I remembered an old double socket bracket I had, and when we started playing with it, it worked best to fit it inside the neck.

That solved one problem, but how to support the hat/shade remained a puzzle. Ami left the dummy with me so I could ponder it. And a few days later I found this nice, soft coil of copper wire I had hanging around, which needed only a little adjustment to fit the neck.

A little paint on some sockets, a quick wiring job, a couple of fancy lightbulbs, and she was finished. Ami seems very pleased with her new lamp, and it’s fun to see something I’ve worked on somewhere besides my own house.

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January 22, 2015

Lulu & Tutu

Lulu & Tutu

I had originally set aside a couple of the parts in this lamp for other projects – ones that haven’t gelled yet. But a few days ago, when I was noodling in my workshop, trying this and that, those two parts got close enough together to trigger a magnetic pull. Not literally, since neither is ferrous. Rather, they just clicked as if made for each other.

So at that point I had the hose-nozzle column sitting atop the candlestick pedestal. Seconds later, a third part (where the socket hides) had joined them. Click. And it took only another minute of searching my hoard to find the exactly right mold for the shade. Click.

The finial was trickier. I went through my stash of actual finials, then bubblers and valve handles, and nothing worked. So I moved on to the box of saucepan knobs, and the perfect one, nestled toward the bottom, was immediately obvious. Click.

The key to all of this is compatible finishes, the repetition of shapes, and of course proportion. You can’t fake that, or force it (or, well, not much).

It’s a very sweet thing when something comes together like this, almost effortlessly. It feels like a piece of luck you’ve earned. And what’s better than that.

For details, see the listing in my Etsy shop.


January blues (and reds)

January 8, 2015

So, yeah, it’s a new year, but I still have a backlog of projects that I never got around to in 2014 (or 2013, 2012…). So I used some holiday downtime on a couple of lamps that update old designs with new shades.

For this one, I copied a motif from the tin itself by cutting small pieces of metallic paper and decoupaging them to a store-bought shade. (I’d originally planned to have another row at the top of the shade, but as soon as I had the first row placed I realized that would be a mistake.) Doing the math and figuring out how to mass produce the shapes took about as long as cutting, placing, and varnishing them, but I think the result is worth it.

This tin had been hanging around for quite awhile. It’s a sibling to tins I used for two other lamps, but larger, so I put off doing anything to it until I found the right shade. Then the other day, my friend Ami handed me this gorgeous silk shade, which happened to match the red in the tin, and was also the right shape and size. I added a wood plinth I picked up somewhere, sometime in the last year or two, to give the base some extra authority, and presto – a nice big table lamp.

Both are, of course, available in my Etsy shop, along with many other similar and dissimilar lamps. Stop by sometime.


Caffeine & gasoline

December 12, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I was trolling online for hubcaps, looking for something to complement a motorcycle brake disc that’s been hanging around for a couple of years. I wasn’t successful, but in the process I did find some pretty tempting wheel covers. I also stumbled on a squarish midcentury-style percolator that I was very taken by. But I resisted.

Well, for awhile anyway.

But at some point I heard what I call the Click, when I realized that one of the hubcaps I’d seen echoed the shapes and finishes of the coffeepot – and then I was lost.

It was supposed to be an easy project, but I ended up having to (pain-in-the-ass-stakingly) repaint the black areas on the hubcap, since the original finish came off in the wash. On the other hand, I already had the perfect saucepan knob in my stash to turn into a finial, along with a shiny metal cup to hide the socket in.

So here’s the result.

Details in my Etsy shop, as always. Happy holidays!


The rake’s progress

October 24, 2013

In the waning days of 2012, I was shopping with a friend at the Depot for Creative Reuse, and found an old leaf rake head. I was very, very taken with the texture of the rust and weathered green paint and thought it would make a nice sconce…someday.

Fast forward to summer, when by ones and threes, I start to find bits and pieces that have a logical and/or aesthetic connection: a rusty bracket for a potted plant, some tile trowels (also rusty), a lovely old dented brass spray nozzle, a turned wood plaque with a couple of holes drilled through and a stripped-by-weather finish, and finally from my stash, a greenish X-shaped valve handle, a few screws and washers, and a heavy brass ball that was once part of a blender motor, as far as I can remember.

The engineering was pretty fun: figuring out how all this stuff would fit together solidly, what kind of switch would work best, how to hang it. But the real surprise came when I went to work on the surfaces before assembling it. After cleaning, a couple of shots of acrylic clear coat brought a richness to the old paint and rust I wouldn’t have thought possible. And the wood plaque, which I’d been thinking of as being merely functional – a thing to hold the lamp to the wall – came to life with just a little mineral oil. It’s now a rich, soft red-brown with a beautiful grain that makes a great backdrop for the other subtle colors.

I doubt these photos do justice to the shades and textures, but here they are.

I’ll be showing this piece at the Nov. 1 Oakland Art Murmur and my first show, at Rebooty, on Nov. 7. Details to follow.