MIKE TALKS ABOUT...
Restoring a Unique Mid-Century Dual Cone Lightolier Desk Lamp
What made this piece worthy of restoration?
Just look at this terrific lamp! It's very unique and certainly one of the most attractive versions of a mid-century conical desk lamp that I've seen. Integrated cone switches are always such an attractive combination of form and function. Any time a necessary component is integrated into the aesthetics of a piece it means that someone put a lot of thought into its design to begin with, which makes me feel it is worthy of putting my own thought and time into bringing it back. And never mind that just about anything made by Lightolier is worthy of restoration. They employed some of the best designers and their work is always top notch. So this is an heirloom piece, which I told the owner when she came to me with the restoration job. I knew it would take a fair amount of time so she had to feel good about the investment, which she did.
What steps did you take?
The lamp, while still cool to look at, was pretty beat up. One of the switches was completely broken and the surfaces were all compromised.
To fix the broken integrated cone switch, I needed a new socket/switch combination that turned out to be a challenge to find. But after some 'off-line' digging, I was able to locate the right part which, after some (still!) minor modification on my part, allowed me to reattach the conical cone switch cover so that it would line up and function correctly.
I stripped all the original paint off of the metal base and resin cones. Different kinds of paints are used for metals than for plastics, so that further complicated the process. But I have a great 'lacquer man' who knows his craft and makes my pieces really shine!
While that was being done I polished the brass to a high sheen using a mechanized buffing wheel. In certain cases I'll polish metals by hand, but with this lamp, nothing but 'like new' would suffice, especially since the other parts were going to be newly lacquered. No room for patina or tarnish here! I also ground all the burrs off the original brass screws that had been caused by screwdrivers slipping off over the years, and polished those up as well.
The last step was putting the lamp back together, which included rethreading new wiring throughout. The lamp is now as gorgeous and functions as well as it did the day it was manufactured over 60 years ago.
This terrific lamp is in a private collection in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Shop our deep selection of mid-century lamps here.
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