Monday, May 28, 2012

Shining Light on the Mid Century

I've made mention numerous times on this blog about my quest for Mid Century Modern furniture.  And I've also been asked to explain what "Mid Century" means.  By definition, Mid Century refers to the middle of the Twentienth century, ie: 1950 (or 1951 if you want to argue about when a century begins). When it comes to Mid Century stylings, whether in architecture, furniture, design, etc., it typically refers to the span of years just post World War II to about 1965, although officially the design concepts date back to the 1930's.  I'm no expert by any means and you can read more here, but it's a style I've come to embrace in the past 10 years or so.  Unfortunately, so has a large portion of the public thanks to shows like Mad Men.  I watch and enjoy Mad Men myself, but I was a fan of the era before it made it chique and tuned in because of my interest in the 1960's.  To be honest, when I was younger, I hated Mid Century design.  I thought blonde wood was hideous, maybe because our house was full of it and I considered it outdated by the time I was living with it in the 1970's.  And I was baffled, not unlike Charlie Brown, why anyone would want an aluminum Christmas tree when a real tree could be had.  But after a fascination with the 1880's, a brief stop in Victorian times, and a layover in the 40's, I've currently settled in the early 1960's.  How long the stay will be is anyone's guess.

But back to my quest.  There have been a number of misses at estate sales the past couple of years, some of which I've detailed in this blog.  But this past Friday, I finally made a score at a home in Lemay on Buckley Meadows Drive.  I initially saw this lamp on

I headed over with my second oldest son around 9:30 a.m. when the auction had been already been open for a half an hour.  I wasn't hopeful the lamp would still be there, but it was.  It looked a little rough, the brass finish was fairly tarnished.  It also had a table that didn't quite look right attached about 1/4 of the way up on the lamp.  You can see it in this photo a little better to the left of the couch.

But I saw definite potential and I loved the shades and their Tiki stylings, so I took at chance at $45.

Normally, I'm a procrastinator when it comes refurbishing things I buy at sales (Remington cash register, I'm looking at you...), but I launched right into the lamp when I got home.  The first thing I noticed was the table definitely did not appear to be original to the lamp.  The finish was wrong (made out of formica with a non-matching color) and the lamp had been cut down to fit in a low ceiling basment.

Removing the table was easy.  It looked to have been added on when the lamp was customized for the basement.

The disassembled lamp

The table removed

I sanded off the brass finish with the intent of spray painting it silver, but found the metal underneath polished up nicely, so I decided to leave it.

One of the light fixtures before sanding:

And after:

I sanded the wood (which is actually a very thin veneer wrapped around another metal pole) and restained and varnished it using 1 coat of Minwax Early American stain (yes, just 1 coat.  It took fine and was as dark as I wanted it) and 2 coats of Minwax Clear Satin polyurethane (using 0000 steel wool in between coats). 

I was able to extend the height of the lamp using a dowel insert to push the top adjusting spring higher, but it still wasn't quite enough.  I've temporarily added some wood blocks.  I need to come up with something better.  I'm thinking of adding another section of wood dowel at the bottom and staining it to match.

It has a 3-way switch which allows 1, 2 or 3 lights to be lit.

I'm very happy with the way it turned out.  Now to find that Mid Century credenza...

1 comment:

  1. yet another amazing score and restoration! i have an amazing midcentury "UFO" looking lamp, but now the plastic on one of the lights is decaying and the shade is literally hanging by the last remaining bit of plastic. i can't figure out how to fix it. i also had the same problem with making it fit in the room we had it in, but now it's all good.


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