Crossing My Ts and Dotting My...Lamp

Let me tell you a little story about a lamp.  I found this one at Goodwill last week:

I went in to hunt for a lamp and came out with one.  Huzzah!  While that probably sounds incredibly lucky; a first-time find, it took me three strolls through different Goodwills to find the perfect one.  Patience and perserverance here kids.

However, the lamp itself 'twas far from perfect, even though it seemed unused.  

That inner layer of cream paint was cracking and peeling, bubbling and shuffling.  But the shape of the lamp is what caught my eye and I knew I could remedy that poor paint situation.  (After all, this wouldn't be my first time taking care of peeling paint inside a lamp.)

First, I removed the piece of sticky felt on the bottom of the lamp.

It's basically a big sticker that sticks to the bottom, covers up all of the stuff in the base of the lamp, and protects the surface the lamp is on from the metal on the base.

Also, you'll notice I did all of this on a rug.  It's the softest and therefore safest place to work with a glass lamp.  (Especially when you've got a really willing and excited little helper.)

Next I unscrewed the nut that holds the whole lamp together...the lynch pin of it all.

Once you take off this nut, you can take the whole thing apart.

But, because I was working with a glass lamp, I had to be super-duper careful in pulling the base off.  Had I just pulled it off that long threaded rod that goes up through the lamp, the rod would have slipped out of the hole in the base and hit the glass...and you can probably guess what might happen then.  Yep, broken glass and dashed hopes and dreams.

Easy does it.

As I continued taking apart the lamp, things got a little dicey.  I got to the top of the lamp, where normally, I'd just remove the wire from the light bulb casing and strip the whole lamp down so that I could get that glass part separate from everything and work on it.  But, this lamp had a bulb casing I'd never dealt with before and I couldn't figure out how to get the wires of the cord out.  I didn't want to break it so I decided to leave the wires connected but string the glass part so that it was farther down on the cord and far away from both the top pieces of the lamp and the base.  I know that probably makes no sense but hopefully you'll see what I mean a few inches down.    

Then I started getting all of that cracked and bubbling paint out just by rubbing it with my fingertips. 

At this point, I actually considered leaving the glass as-is - with half of the paint still stuck onto the glass.  It looked really cool BUT I was worried that I'd put the lamp together and then a small piece (or lots of pieces) of paint would fall off over time and fall onto the base of the lamp inside.  Taking apart the lamp every once in a while to get out that falling paint really didn't a'peel ;) to me.  So, it was on to the next intended step...

Getting all of that paint outta there. 

The easiest way to do this was to immerse the glass in water and scrub the paint off.  I made sure to lay a towel in the bottom of the sink first though to give the glass a soft landing and then filled the sink halfway.  I used some dish soap and a bottle scrubber to scrub the paint off.  (In the photo above, you're more able to see that cord I had to work around.  I know it might seem crazy to let that get wet but the electrical wires are protected within a good bit of rubber so, as long as I didn't plug it in before the cord had time to dry, I knew all would be well.  Plus, this seemed like a new lamp that just came to Goodwill because of a defect.  Had it been an older lamp with an older cord, I probably wouldn't have immersed it for fear an older cord had cracking going on.)

Now came the fun part.  Originally, I had intended to pour some black and white paint inside the glass and swirl it around, creating a sort of marble look but with that cord in the way, I had to turn to a last-minute, Plan B.

I had white paint on hand and black so I mixed the two to get a charcoal gray.

Then, with a steady hand, I painted short brush-strokes inside the lamp like so:

I started at the top and worked my way around and down so that I didn't accidentally get my hand in wet paint.  It was tricky to work around the cord without it touching wet paint (which it did a couple of times) but paint is easy to scratch off glass so I knew that if it smudged anything, I could go in and scratch it off later (which I did once the paint dried).

The last thing I had to do before I let everything dry and get it all put back together was paint the inside of the lamp base gold.  That black part is a rubbery piece the glass sits on (smart!) but since the lamp was now transparent, I didn't want to see black on the inside bottom.  Just a couple of coats of my favorite gold paint (which has sadly been discontinued!) fixed that though.  Oh, and I also gave the rod that goes up the middle of the lamp a quick coat too.  It was already gold but a slightly warmer tone so I just took that tone down a notch.

So, are you ready to see what the lamp looks like now? 


I LOVE how it turned out!  It adds such a punch of fun to the entry way which, by the way, is almost done and is looking SO GOOD!  I can't wait to show you!  I'm aiming for a reveal post next week!  Prepare to be shocked.  ;)

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  1. You are the queen of DIY fixes, Sheena!

  2. Love it! Where do you get your lamp shades?

    1. Marshall's (Ross, Homegoods sometimes...any of those kinds of stores), Dirt Cheap (check to see if you have one near you -, but At Home has the best selection.

  3. Wow what an awesome makeover! Looks like a brand new lamp now, I love it!