Weekend Making a Lamp

This weekend the kids and I decided to make a lamp.   (I know kind of odd… )  I  kind of have a thing for lamps (not a fetish… just a healthy love affair)  I want to share with you our lamp making adventure… hold on tight… this is going to be thrilling.  (I am exaggerating a bit… in fact it might be extremely boring… and if that be the case just look at the pictures)   

My brother, sister and I… (think you recognize the picture) at Sunny Brook

Before I begin I want to provide some context around my love affair with lamps.  It all began years ago when as a kid we would spend part of the summer in a cabin located in a place called Sunny Brook.   Staying at the cabin was like going back 100 years … no TV… and no in door plumbing (this meant hauling buckets of water from the water pump and walking along a small path behind the cabin to a smaller “house”… a stinky place we called our “outhouse”)  We had a stove that you had to light a fire in to cook with and another large stove (pot belly) for heat.   As a young boy every day playing in the woods or at the river was a Huckleberry Finn-like adventure and the nights were spent under the flickering light of kerosene lamps  listening to mother read stories.   I remember intently listening while watching a flame dance around the wick… Something so uniquely intimate when light comes from such a personal source.

Our hearts are lamps for ever burning

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have such a nostalgic longing when I reminisce about those early formative years… and well to get to the point… I like lamps… lamps are my friends… not lights… but lamps.   If having light fixtures, chandeliers, sconces is like visiting a zoo… sitting next to a lamp is like having a dog curled up next to you.

Let’s get to the action!  This is not my first time around the lamp building “block”…. here are a couple of lamps I have made recently.

Lamp 1
Simple “Bucket Lamp”…  really quick project… and yes.. there is a hole in this bucket
Lamp 2
From the top… ya.. I admit it loses some of its charm from this angle.
Lamp 17
My bottle lamp… maybe more involved but still fairly simple.  The hardest part was cutting up the mirror for lining the crate.
Lamp 4
This lamp is fantastic from all angles… and spectacular at night

Now to this weekends lamp!

Lamp 6
Every good lamp begins with an idea… Here is mine.   I want to build an industrial lamp for my office.

Lamp 5

Isabelle (who loves shopping) went with me to our local home improvement store to help me get the parts… and to probably keep my spending in check.  While digging through the pipes a salesman offered help by asking us what we were fixing.  I said we were “weird” and that we were making a lamp…  he quickly said “oh” we have more people than you would believe doing exactly the same thing.   (hmmm…   I might have to go look for the lamp building online groups… not for help… just for friends)

Lamp 8

 The next step in this project is get the kids involved.   This usually means that the project will  take twice as long… but what joy.  (as long as they don’t ruin my lamp) I love seeing the kids “light up” and witness their minds moving a hundreds miles per hour as I hand them the plans and ask them to figure out what each part is for.
Lamp 7
We took a couple of short cuts with the electricity for now… (I will be adding an antique radio or something at the base to turn on each light and dim them).   I had to do my part to warn them about electricity and how dangerous it can be.   That adds to the adventure…  you know… saying stuff like… if this is done wrong we could all die and watch out… I think that part has rogue amps.
Lamp 9
They are so proud of themselves for laying out the base correctly and Ben (the youngest) insisted on pulling the wires… braving the rogue amps and all
Lamp 11
And now it is ready for the first test… does it “turn on”?
Lamp 10
It works… and we all lived!!!

Next we need to build the upper arm.   This was not built with pipes since it is always easier to have a lamp stay up if the base is heavier than the top.   Each kid took turns cutting the dowels… (and each cut had to be “re-cut” by dad… when they weren’t looking)

Lamp 12
We have the upper arm built and now all we need to do is paint the wood and pulleys to match the pipes


Lamp 13
The older kids Sam and Gwen spray painted the upper arm.   I cannot tell you how proud I was that they had done this without any runs… or missed spots.

Here is the finally product!   I am not sure that the kids “love” the lamp like I do… but I know they were proud of their accomplishment… they had lots of fun… and they spent  most of the day not looking at a screen.

Lamp 16

Lamp 14

Lamp 15


Here it is in my office

lamp final