Friday, August 30, 2013


For a while I've been wanting a new lamp for my bedside table. Having watched far too many blaxploitation movies, my vision was for one of those big-ass early 1970s ceramic lamps, in a shade of peacock blue or burnt orange, with a drum shade larger than Peter Dinklage.

But sadly most lamps of this kind were dumped in the 1980s, in favour of horrible faux-country brass touchlamps with pale pink floral glass shades. In a proper city I'd still be able to find them in the Red Cross or Salvation Army stores, but I live in Perth, where the charity stores' stock consists of all the merchandise that Kmart couldn't shift last year. In a proper city there would also be high end vintage stores selling salvaged 1970s lamps at premium prices... but this is Perth, where the high end vintage stores are few and far between, and the ones that do exist have stock that mostly consists of horrible faux-country brass touchlamps with pale pink floral glass shades. Welcome to the city that considers anything older than Miley Cyrus to be "vintage".

So I decided to make my own.

Unfortunately in Perth it's not only impossible to find a decent early 1970s lamp; it's also nearly impossible to find the components for an early 1970s-esque lamp. In a proper city there'd be lighting warehouse stores stocking lampshades and bases in every conceivable material, shape and colour. In Perth, there are lighting warehouse stores stacked floor to ceiling with six different kinds of shades and six different kinds of bases, all slight variations on the same basic idea.

This is the dark side of the Australian egalitarian ideal. "You want a lampshade? Here's a lampshade. It's the same lampshade that everyone else buys. What? You want a different lampshade? Why? Everyone else likes this lampshade. What's wrong with you? WHY DO YOU HATE AUSTRALIA???"

For example, leaving aside pattern, colour and exact size, I wanted a lampshade that was taller than it was wide. This alone proved to be problematic. The lighting cabals of Perth have agreed that lampshades wider than they are tall are what people want, and woe betide any people who contradict them. When I did eventually find one, it was stuck under a pile of other lampshades in a back corner of an expensive designer lighting shop in the city's Millionaire Belt. It was even tagged as being on sale, a fact that the staff only grumpily conceded as the sale had finished months earlier but the sticker hadn't been removed, because clearly nobody would be perverted enough to buy a lampshade taller than it is wide.

So there you are. I am the Jerry Sandusky of Lamps.

Eventually I managed to acquire a boxy ceramic urn from a shop in Osborne Park...

... and the drum shade of the correct proportions from the expensive designer shop in Claremont...

... and a floor lamp I could cut down to size from a shop in Cannington...

Then I applied by keen design sense and a screwdriver, a pair of scissors, my needle nosed pliers, my normal pliers, a socket set, a roll of black duct tape, a hacksaw, part of a cork board, a stanley knife, a cake fork and, oh yes, my angle grinder. And I produced this:

I could post further about the stresses and struggles of putting these components together into a working table lamp, but since it hasn't electrocuted me, burst into flame or fallen over yet, I'm inclined to put all of that behind me and just bask in the glow.