I was inspired by this item I saw on Fab.com‘s “Vintage Monday ” e-mail to create a virtually identical piece:
Made by Adam Gatchel of Southern Lights Electric Co., this light was exactly what I was looking for as a nightstand lamp to bring some rustic vintage flavor into my bedroom. Naturally, I thought I would make one myself.
Adam’s lamp included an in-line switch, which I thought was a good idea, so that you didn’t need to remove the glass cover each time you wanted to turn the lamp on and off. I’m not sure if his includes a dimmer socket, but I felt mine needed one; since it’s for my nightstand, being able to keep the light dim was important.
Glass cloche w/ white wooden base ($35 + $16 shipping on TheBoominGranny on Etsy)
Antique brass socket w/ dimmer ($11 on Nostalgic Bulbs)
White twisted cloth wire ($6 for 5 ft. on Nostalgic Bulbs)
Edison-style 60w bulb ($6.50 on Nostalgic Bulbs)
Brass hex nuts, nipples, and washers ($1-2 at Home Depot)
White polarized plug ($1-2 at Home Depot)
White in-line switch ($1-2 at Home Depot)
Tap-on felt pads ($2-3 at Kmart)
Total Cost: $79-84
Total Time: 1-2 hours
Drill with various drill bits
- Untwist one side of the twisted wire and strip approximately 1/2″ of the wires. The two wires will be sheathed in black and white plastic (under the cloth). I used the black wire as the “hot” wire and the white wire as the “neutral” wire. I used some duct tape to keep the fabric from slipping or becoming more unraveled.
- Open the plug. Wrap the hot wire around the gold colored screw and the neutral wire around the silver colored screw. Tighten the colored screws so the exposed copper wire stays firmly in place. Close the plug; try to keep the twisted wire as close to the base of the plug as possible.
Using a polarized plug is essential for use with the in-line switch. Without it, you could plug it into an outlet the wrong way (both plug heads would be the same size, as opposed to one being larger than the other), which could result in the wire overheating.
- Drill a hole in the center of the wood base of the cloche. The hole needs to be large enough so the nipple fits loosely, without you having to screw the nipple through; if you have to screw the nipple in, the nipple will be slanted a little bit and your light socket won’t sit vertically straight. I also took a larger drill bit to widen the hole on the bottom of the base only, so that the nipple, a washer, and a hex nut would sit flush with the bottom of the base.
My indentation on the bottom of the base is kind of ugly because I drilled it after drilling the hole for the nipple; because there wasn’t any wood for the my drill bit to hold onto, the bit moved all over the place. I recommend that you make the indentation first, and drill the smaller hole for the nipple afterward. You should end up with something a little cleaner looking.
- Slip a hex nut, washer, and the nipple onto the twisted wire. Screw the hex nut on the nipple and run the twisted wire through the hole in the wooden base.
- Take apart the socket. Slip a washer and the socket base onto the twisted wire. Screw the socket base onto the exposed end of the nipple and tighten. You can also tighten the small screw on the side of the socket base so that the socket doesn’t accidentally unscrew later.
- Take the other end of the twisted wire (the end without the plug attached) and strip approximately 1/2″ of the wires.
- Take the other piece of the socket and attach the wires. The hot wire will be attached to the gold colored screw, and the neutral wire will be attached to the silver colored screw. Tighten the colored screws and attach the top part of the socket to the base; you should hear the socket click into place.
- Untwist the middle part of the twisted wire (you want to untwist a portion that will not end up under the cloche base) and determine which one is the hot wire. I used an Exact-O knife to carefully cut a tiny hole in the fabric covering of the wire so I could see which one was which – make sure you don’t cut through the plastic sheathing of the wires! Once you determine which is the hot wire, cut that wire completely in half.
- Open the in-line switch and place the wires in it; the split hot wire goes on the side with a thin plastic wall that keeps the two ends of the cut hot wire separated. Carefully close the in-line switch; try to keep the twisted wire as close to the switch as possible. There are two small prongs in the switch that will pierce into the split hot wire.
- Take the felt pads and hammer into the bottom of the wooden cloche base. Make sure your pads are thick enough so that after you attach the pads, the wire won’t cause your base to be wobbly.
My original plan was to have the wooden base sit directly on the table surface, but I didn’t have the tools to route a path for the wire. You can probably also use small wooden knobs or something else, but these felt pads were available in a pinch, would stay put with its adhesive/tap-in combo, and don’t really affect the overall aesthetic of the lamp.
- Screw in the bulb, place the glass cloche onto the base, plug your new lamp in, and enjoy!