A “Daring” Mid-Century Lamp Upscale

I “won” an unusual lamp this December in our annual White Elephant Christmas Gift Exchange. Ok, I admit it, the thing was HIDEOUS.Publication3

I went for the box only because it was festooned with a Home Depot gift card lodged prominently in the bow.ugly lampWe laughed and cringed at this monster (almost four feet tall!), and then one of my friends jokingly comment “It may be ugly, but Rachel can make anything look good…”  And the dare was on:  could I?  Really?

The finish was very tired brass.  Ugly tired brass.  I scrubbed and polished with no benefit. It was obvious this needed some paint, but I feared a cheap can of spray paint would make it look…well, cheap.  I scoured the internet for suggestions.

A decorator friend suggest Rub-n-Buff in silver.IMG_3593

But it soon became apparent that this piece had far too many nooks and crevices for success.  So I washed it down with vinegar quickly to remove the product and went back to the internet for more research.  Friends, the internet is full of contradictions, especially on the merits of different silver spray paints.  So in frustration, I settled on a plan…

First:  a good quality spray primer coat:IMG_3686

Then two coats of a mid-range silver metallic spray:IMG_3688


And then back to a very thin sheen of gold Rub-n-Buff to give the metal interest (and dispel the idea that I’d just hosed the piece down with spray paint)

IMG_3836With the base complete, I turned my attention to the shade.  This was what would make or break the deal.  The original tatty thing that accompanied the lamp at Christmas was far too large and hid much of the cage section of the lamp.  I visited every thrift shop I knew of in a 60 mile radius to find a drum shade the right size.  This was a dare after all.  My friends were beginning to ask how the project was going with a “she’ll never pull it of” smirk.  My honor as an up-scaling diva was at steak!

Most of the stores had wimpy little shades deserving a bedside table lamp. Two of them insisted I purchase a lamp to get the shade I was after.  I even wasted $2 on a shade that proved too short. But finally my search was rewarded.  Only 50c for a dusty, ripped and singed shade!IMG_3745

A pair of scissors made quick work of reducing it down to a skeleton:IMG_3752

And now I was ready to trace a tissue paper pattern and cut out the jaunty new fabric:IMG_3754

I chose Tacky Glue to adhere the fabric, using clothes pins to keep the cloth in place while it dried.IMG_3755

Ribbon covered the raw edges.



And the lamp was done!IMG_3832

And yes, it sold.  And yes, I made a profit.  And YES, I can hold my head high as an Up-scaling Diva once again. (until next year’s Christmas White Elephant Gift Exchange…)