I finished up the Steampunk Lamp project today. I used most of the parts that I had been gathering, and it came together pretty well. There are a couple of details that I may change at some point, but for now she's done.
The various parts that I used for this lamp varied in composition. The base and the central column were solid brass. The swing arm was a combination of brass plated steel and brass painted potmetal. The cage and base of the mechanic's light were steel. The presented a question of exactly how to meld all those various pieces into one coherent end result.
I had thought about painting the entire piece so that everything matched. Flat black paint with an over coat of metallic brass or copper paint ragged on to give the look of aged metal. I've been somewhat successful using this technique in the past on smaller projects like shelf brackets, but I wasn't too enthused about using that technique on the lamp project. I also didn't want to shine all the true brass parts up completely, and then have that in stark contrast with the parts that I couldn't equally shine - like the painted pot metal bits and the brass plated parts (some of which was not only tarnished, but had the plating worn through in places).
So... my end solution was to clean and polish the brass parts only so far, and try to reach some sort of middle ground with the rest of the parts. This left tarnish and wear in places that I technically could have polished out. I kind of prefer that sort of look now, for the most part. It gives the visual appeal of polished brass but makes it clear that you're looking at something that's actually OLD. Not some pristine, lacquered, modern creation that tries to mimic something old.
The hardest part of it all was working the new cord through the swing arm. There are access screws on the top and bottom of the swing arm pivot that can be removed to help - but snaking through those right angle turns with no room to work was a bitch. For the most part, everything else came together fairly easily. I used a lamp pipe, which is a hollow pipe that is threaded on the outside for its entire length, down the center to hold the swing arm, base, and central column together. Obviously, the cord runs through that pipe. The swingarm attachment was a different size from the pipe, but a $2 brass plumbing bushing fixed that problem.
A word here about the lightbulb - which really adds to the piece in my opinion. It is a reproduction of a Squirrel Cage bulb that you would have found in use during the early 20th century. It doesn't put out much light compared to modern bulbs, but it really adds a warm unique glow to the lamp's light. They aren't cheap, coming in at $13.00 each, plus shipping. You can find this and similar bulbs via House of Antique Hardware online.
Of course, I can use a modern bulb if I want. If I ever do, I'll probably utilize the copper colander that I showed you in the parts box earlier, as a lampshade. I decided not to use it on this current version of the lamp since it covered up too much of the Squirrel Cage bulb.
The cage finish I'm not entirely happy with, but it will do for now. I went with flat black, although I may try for an antique brass paint treatment at some point. I need to practice some different techniques first, though. The other possible change in the future is the switch. I went with a pull chain socket, with plans to replace the plain ball end with a brass clock gear or somesuch... but I may try to figure out another type of switch all together. Perhaps a base mounted switch using an ornamental, fancy knob?... I dunno yet. The pull chain works fine and looks OK, but the links do drag on the cage somewhat when you pull it. It's not smooth.