Sunday, October 4, 2015

DIY for Me is Telling Others What to Do

I love design, watch the Design channel on satellite, and sometimes fantasize about implementing some of my design ideas. Why do I fantasize? Because unfortunately, I am not talented enough to implement any of my ideas, can't make anything useful with my "two left hands" other than food. And this is every bit as frustrating as it sounds. This is why it took time until I lost any hope in this direction and finally admitted the reality to myself. Better late than never.

I love to relax on the recliner in the corner of our living room and read newspapers or books. There is lots of light coming from behind, through glass doors covered by sheer, faintly golden curtains  (with a heavier curtain on the side with lots of gold in it). This means I can only read during daylight, while there is natural light from behind. When it gets dark and I switch on the ceiling lamp, the paper blocks the light coming from the lamp's direction. I imagine you grinning and suggesting to read some clever back-lit electronic device instead of paper. So before we go any further, let me state that I enjoy reading both paper and electronic.

We were planning for ages to buy a standing lamp to solve the problem, although there is no socket nearby. We'd figure that out later, we thought. The plans were so vague that we never got around to even start looking what's available, but as John Lennon put it, "life is what happens while you are busy making other plans". In our case, we were offered a used standing lamp as a gift and took it with thanks. It is a simple, IKEA-style lamp with an opaque, bowl-like glass shade on a silver-ish pole.

I immediately thought of adding some design touches to make it work together with the other items in that corner, first of all painting the rod gold and somehow customizing the shade. To figure out that "somehow", I googled for ideas, even signed up for Pinterest and found many lamp makeover projects, but none of them clicked. The only positive outcome was that I've enriched my vocabulary with the term "torchiere floor lamp" which is what these lamps are actually called. I refined my search by using the newly acquired term, but still nothing. While hopelessly gazing in the lamp's direction, it suddenly hit me. Not the lamp, the idea I was waiting for. I would spray paint the heavy curtain patterns on the shade to make them connect by subtle repetition.

Now, to the implementation. Painting the rod was the easy part. After two coats (hubby doing 90% of the work), it looked acceptable. But how to go about the shade? The first challenge was copying the pattern to paper and cut it out. I emptied the top drawer of my bedside cabinet, placed a headlight in it, covered it with glass dismantled from a framed picture on the wall, placed the fabric on the glass and a sheet of paper on top of this construction. This way, the fabric became translucent and Tom was able to trace the pattern with a pencil on the paper. Then he cut it out in pieces. The real challenge was placing the flat paper patterns on the hemispheric glass shade. After a lot of futile brainstorming, Tom decided to wrap the shade in 2 pieces of wet A3 sheets to get a "glued on" effect. Then, I randomly placed the cut out patterns and traced their inner border with a pencil. Tom cut the drawings with small scissors making sure the paper stays glued to the lamp shade. Lose parts were glued with egg white. All that remained to do is spray paint the shade and remove the "mask".

The result is a unique lamp I like and a resigned self.