I’d already been making lamps for a while, here and there, when a few years back a friend started handing me kitchenware she found, saying “Make this into a light.” So I did: antique toasters, espresso makers, food mills.
After a few months of this, it started to become a bit of an obsession. My eBay tab started to mount, and way too many lamps were piling up around the house. I wanted to find homes for them, but didn’t know how.
Then I found out about Etsy.
Nowadays, I have a small workshop in my basement where I store parts and do the grubbier parts of the work: drilling, cutting, steel-wooling. The preliminary design stage also usually happens there – stacking parts on top of one another until they start a conversation, and then figuring out how to make the structure permanent.
Once a lamp is loosely assembled, it goes upstairs, and I live with it for a while: stare at it, handle it, experiment with different light bulbs, and just generally obsess. I almost always end up taking it apart again and making adjustments to refine the proportions or the finish or swap in a different piece I’ve just remembered I have squirreled away somewhere.
Finally, when I think it’s as near to perfect as it’s going to get, I reassemble it. I make all the connections good and tight, add a switch if it doesn’t have one already . . . and then fall at least a little bit in love with it. This part is crucial. If I don’t love it, I can’t let it go.
Of course, occasionally I love one so much I can’t let it go, but that’s another story.