Light Fixtures and Lamps

2002-02-14 Rev. 2002-10-09, 2003-07-11, -11-06, 2008-04-17, -11-29

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Light Fixtures and Lamps

Fixtures & Lamps
Tiffany lamps are only the beginning of adventures in light fixtures and lamps. Many pieces of glassware have ended up as the bases of lamps and shades have been fused, blown, and stained glass work. Fixtures have been built where the major purpose of the piece is to decorate with color produced by light, not to make light available for people to use for reading, etc., and true Tiffany lamps today fall in that group because bulbs big enough for reading will damage the lamp shade.


Chandeliers [Hanging & Ceiling Lights] A light fixture hung from the ceiling, usually containing a steel structure which often dominates visually, which supports glass that catches light, which may come from candles or electric bulbs on the fixture or from surrounding sources. Modern chandeliers, such as Dale Chihuly's, tend to be massively glass, while older ones are a decorative iron or steel structure holding glass mostly to catch light. When I went exploring on the internet this site Product Selection - Lamps Plus gave an astounding set of choices in modern, classical, country, etc. that are an education in themselves.
Floor Lamps & Table Lamps Lighting fixture of appropriate height for non-glare lighting for reading or decoration to place on a table (about 30" tall - .75m) or on floor (about 60-72" tall 1.5-.9m). When glass is incorporated, it may be as minor decorations on the shaft, as a frosted bowl to diffuse the glass, as a shade, or in the column of the lamp as decoration.
Sconces A wall mounted light fixture normally containing a curved fan or shell shaped glass piece mounted in a metal frame. Often found today in hotel hallways and alongside mirrors in restrooms. Glass is usually opal or etched to diffuse the glass and not show the bulb. Normally open at the top to fan light up the wall and off ceiling.
Shelf lamps Smaller lamps intended for sitting on shelves, such as oil lamps on the mantle.  Less common today.
Oil Lamps Traditional oil lamps have four glass parts: a base, a tank for oil, a chimney, and a shade or globe.  All the glass parts except the chimney are usually cut, painted, or otherwise decorated.   Many lamps have as the only metal part the burner mount that forms the connection between the tank and the shade and chimney and also contains the adjustable holder for the wick.  Sampling images shows many with a metal base and metal decorations. More

From: "Ron-Podmore - To: mikefirth Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2002
> Hi Mike-
> Greetings from the Pacific Northwest, home of the new international glass
> museum going up in Tacoma. (
> Do you have any issues that pertain to the making of the steel rods that are made and prepared to hang glass from., i.e., chandeliers? I 'm having a tough time finding diagrams that show how to make them.
> Your thoughts please? Thanks and have a great day.
> Ron Podmore
> Tacoma, Washington.
> Instructor, American Sign Language
> (I blow glass as a hobby).  : )
  I see no simple answer to this question.  In traditional chandeliers, the metal IS the chandelier, with the glass being almost (ALMOST) an incidental add-on.  In ancient chandeliers, they were all metal to hold a lot of candles above head height for room lighting.  In later traditional ones, the whole mass of crystal and steel was presumably designed so the glass caught the light from the candles/bulbs nearby.   Modern chandeliers, the extreme being Dale Chihuly's work, seem to be almost entirely glass and the metal structure is buried behind a lot of glass.  Dale (as shown in videos like "Chihuly in Venice") wires his individual blown pieces into place.  
  If I were designing a chandelier, I would either black line draw the steel and sketch the color on top or the reverse - color out the glass (perhaps as blobs) and then lay the proposed steel structure down through it - thus almost treating the steel as line and the glass as form.    Obviously it is necessary to consider the connection between the two.  Some will require a drilled hole, treating each glass element almost as a lamp part to be attached to a threaded tubing and held in place by a pair of nuts.  Others will require a handing point for wire or a hook to connect the glass to the metal.
   If I were to offer a single suggestion, it would be to get a general idea of what you want (sketch perhaps) and look at similar items in museums or furniture stores to see what solutions they had.  If you wish, fire a copy of the sketch back at me.


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