Thursday, July 14, 2011

Things I Made - The Tea Set Lamp

I am always buying old china and dishes to cut up to make mosaics.  Notice I say cut up...not smash up because despite what everyone thinks, I seldom just smash something.  In order to get the best of a design from a plate, it takes skillful and practiced cutting to get the right pieces.

Anywhoo....I found this little tea set at an estate sale.  And by estate sale, I mean a table full of not entirely old stuff in front of a trailer that I drove 12 miles to find.  Because sometimes people sort of play fast and loose with the actual meaning of the phrase "estate sale."  Another post for another time.

So this set caught my eye for a number of reasons...The hand-painting was really darling. It is textured.  They are signed with an Asian symbol by the painter. The dishes are totally crazed. (In dish-talk, that means that moisture is under the glaze, causing it to crackle and darken. ) But mostly, I fell for them because they have butterflies on them.  And my name means butterfly, so I just like them.  Wherever I find them.

For a good 8 months, they sat on my shelf, because it never seemed right to cut them up.  I just couldn't bring myself to risk having one of those sweet butterflies cracking up into fourteen un-recognizable pieces.  Then one day, the stars aligned (ie.  I was under pressure to make things for a show)  and I happened to have a ceramic tip for my electric Dremel tool.  (Free tip...don't buy an battery powered Dremel. They are weak-sissy tools that can't hold their charge.) Whatever these are made of, it is rock hard.  I burned through two Dremel tips in no time.  That's why other people who make lamps out of dishes are smart enough to use porcelain dishes instead.  But I like a challenge.

I played with stacking the pieces in various ways until I came up with a configuration that worked, drilled holes in each base, and then put a lamp rod through.  Ideally the lamp rod would reach the bottom and have a narrow nut that would screw it on, but the saucer on this set was extremely flat on the bottom and didn't really allow much space for a nut to screw it tight.  So the neck of the lamp spins free.  It's not conventional, but it won't hurt.  Before the final configuration, I used epoxy to glue the pieces together. I also Dremelled a notch for the cord to nestle into so that the lamp would sit flush.

The end result, you can see, is pretty cute.  My next Odyssey is going to be making-over lamp shades.  I have 12 of them stacked up in the garage, ready for me to work some magic.  But for now, I rather liked the effect of this simple brown kraft paper shade.  Except I am tempted in this very moment to try to paint a similar design as the lamp on the shade.  What do you think?

The lamp is available to purchase here or at Heartwood Gallery.


Into Vintage said...

Really timely post as just yesterday I was thinking how much easier a little project I was working on would have been if I had a dremel! That goes on my list for Santa along with the compound miter saw and paint sprayer.

You have such a unique way of looking at things -- *love* the teapot lamp. Do not love driving to 'estate sales' where someone is selling their collection of big gulp cups.


I used to have a plug-in Dremel that would totally take me for a ride! It definitely requires twi hands and two biceps. Maybe the cord makes a difference?
You have just shattered my plate-smashing illusions!
Very cute lamp!
LOVE the Big Gulp comment!

Michelle Roller said...

I love the idea of making the shade similar to the lamp.

Jonathan, Lyndsy and Heath Manz said...

LOVE your new lamp! Also, I appreciate how you have been giving little explanations into your profession lately on the blog- making it all the more interesting for me to read what's happening in your life, and learn a new fact. (The etsy thing the other week was great).

Looking forward to seeing more about these lamp shades stock piled in your garage. I've been reading about transforming a pendant light with a lamp shade and now in search of the 'perfect shape.'

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