First, let me apologize for not updating TJsTrains.com more often. But real life has intruded on me in a substantial way. One of my daughters has recently come back home to live and some days ago gave birth to our first grandchild. My craft room has been reworked into a bedroom/nursery and my train and modeling stuff is scattered in boxes throughout my house and garage.
This means that all train projects are on hold. Add to that the circumstance that we spent a good part of the recent summer reworking and rethinking our front and back yards with the result that I don’t have a working layout since July.
Nor is the spot for the planned new area for my layout decided yet. Sorry to say but I have not been playing with trains. Still I have tried to keep busy with one thing or another on the odd hour or two each weekend that I can call my own.
My latest project was to ditch the “salad bowl” light fixture (shown to the left here) that hangs over our kitchen table and replace it with something better. This was a big project for me as I usually hire an electrician for this sort of thing. But working on my train modeling projects provided me the confidence to do it myself…
As often happens my wife and I both had very distinct views on what we needed in order to replace the “salad bowl suspended from chain” fixture that came with the house. I wanted anything that did not have a dust catching chain (I do most of the house cleaning) and she wanted something unique and eye-catching. Needless to say the salad bowl stayed hanging there for a long time trying to reconcile those two extremely different points of view.
The body of the lamp is an old clarinet perched on a block of wood and covered at the top with your basic lampshade. This table lamp served as the inspiration for the hanging lamp replacement.
First, I found a very plain bronze color hanging lamp at the big box store in town whose only positive attribute was that it had an enclosed glass bowl suspended by a pipe instead of a chain.
The negatives were the bronze color (wife wanted black to match the appliances in the kitchen and ceiling fans in the adjacent family room) and the fact that it was boring and plain. She wanted unique and eye-catching.
Inspired by the clarinet lamp, my wife and I started scouring garage sales for old musical instruments. We finally acquired a beat up, tarnished, dented, old flute. Slipping the flute over a pipe on my work bench I was able to tap out the dents. Some sand paper took off the worst of the tarnish and a very small screwdriver allowed me to take it apart and remove all the keys.
The flute would be the “unique” addition to the hanging light fixture and some shiny paint would add the “eye-catching” part. I opted for a two-color flute. Candy apple red for the body and shiny black for the flute keys. Never having used enamels before I made sure I had some paint thinner on hand.
Following the directions I washed and dried the flute and managed to get the first coat of red on each of the three separate pieces that made up the body of the flute. But here is where “directions” are no substitute for “experience.” The directions said I could add a second coat if I sprayed it within 60 minutes of the first coat. I figured that 45 minutes was within the time window but I did not allow for the temperature of the day which was quite warm.
I learned the hard way that spraying a new coat onto an existing, slightly dry but uncured coat, will cause a reaction which results in the paint wrinkling and ruining the paint job. Fortunately I know if you are willing to start over enough times you eventually work your way to a successful completion.
I dropped the main flute section into paint thinner and scrubbed all the paint off and started over. This time allowing 48 hours of drying/curing time between coats. Then came the fun part trying to reinstall the keys. Finally all the keys were reinstalled (not as hard as it looked) and the flute part was ready.
Now something needed to be done about the bronze finish on the new light fixture. Using newspaper and painters masking tape (the blue stuff) I masked off each part of the new light fixture and sprayed it with a flat black spray paint. Not being enamel I had no problems with wrinkling or drying times.
The lamp installation was fairly straight forward and I am very pleased with the final result. We now have a “unique” and “eye-catching” light fixture, black like our appliances and ceiling fans, suspended over our kitchen table.
Let me know what you do when you can’t work on your trains! – TJ
(Originally posted 10/7/2012)