Lyra’s Lamp

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We have a new puppy in the house, and while this is a wonderful thing in general, it means I sometimes have to get up in the middle of the night to let him out.  The problem is I don't have a bedside lamp so I end up stumbling across the  bedroom to turn on the overhead lamp so I can find the leash as well as my robe and shoes.  Needless to say this does not please The Lady.  So, my next project had to be a new bedside lamp.

Like most of my lamp projects this one started with a visit to the junk bins.  At right you see part of an antique student lamp I rescued from the metal recycling bin before the ban on picking at our local dump went into effect.  It's quite nicely made, but this is all I was able to retrieve.  The other parts are from various more mundane fixtures and the bulb at left is a reproduction Aerolux glow lamp. 

. . .

Aerolux lamps were popular as night lights in the early part of the twentieth century and were manufactured in a wide variety of designs.  This particular bulb is argon filled and sports two purple flowers and a pair of green leaves.  If you are looking for bulbs like this try this guy.

Once I decided on the parts I soldered everything in place and drilled holes for the wires.  The right angle connector at the base of the lower lamp is actually part of a Delta bathroom faucet that was just perfect for this application.

After assembly I cleaned and polished the lamp.  It polished up very nicely, too nicely.  It's interesting how modern manufacturing methods have made high quality finishes look cheap.  If you polish a piece of wood or metal too much it begins to look to us like a fake piece of wood or metal made from plastic.  I decided this would be a good opportunity to try the ammonia method for aging brass so I put the lamp into a storage container with a small tray of ammonia.  The lamp spent 4 days in the container and the ammonia was renewed 4 times.  I suspect that I would have had quicker results if the container sealed mroe tightly.

 As you can see the ammonia was effective in adding a little age to the brass.

The un-polished areas took on a lovely brown patina but most of the lamp took on lighter hue.

To wire the lamp I used a vacuum cleaner to suck upholstery thread through the base which I then used to pull lengths of wire.

I used Teflon insulated wire so that I could solder the rest of the lamp together after threading it.  If I had used regular wire the insulation would have melted and the wire would have shorted out.

To give the wire and power cord the right vintage appearance I ran them through the center of some brown shoelaces after cutting the aglets off.

 The center post of the lamp is a solid steel rod clad in brass so the wire to the top light is external.

 Here's a shot of the lamp in the dark showing the Aerolux repro night light.

 A close up of the flower glow bulb.

 The complete lamp with night light lit.

 and with the main light lit.

Since a majority of its parts came from a student lamp, this piece has a somewhat acemdemic look.  I imaged it would look right at home at Lyra's bedside in her room at Jordan College (from The Golden Compass). Hence the name Lyra's Lamp.

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  1. Posted by Jem Stanners

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