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The Closet under the stairs

It was were suitcases were kept. Furniture that was not in use and, best of all, the tool box and bits and pieces for work to be done around the house. I would spend hours exploring these. There seemed to be so much potential, so many things to be done with the nuts and bolts, pliers and other things that I couldn't name (and probably still can't). A small metal tube would become a charm on a necklace for my Mum. The hooks would go in my doll's closet. the possibilities were endless..

To this day, I get the same feeling when I walk into a hardware store. Somewhere in there there is something wonderful that will inspire a new project. Something I don't yet know about... A trip to Williams is a favorite weekend activity for the entire family.

And then, of course, there are electrical stores. They are even better than hardware stores. Not sure if this is normal or not, but I can tell you the exact location of at least 5 such stores in Manhattan without looking it up. You can actually walk into these places and buy stuff TO MAKE LAMPS WITH!!!!

From my point of view that is a magical, wonderful thing. It can be hard to find good lighting. The good news is it can be really quite easy and cheap to make it. Almost any interesting found object can be turned into some sort of lamp with a drill, some cord and a few metal parts. It is like putting together a puzzle that lights up when you are finished.

A couple of months ago I found some vintage, rusted barrel rings in our local barn store. They were simple, beautiful, compelling objects and I bought a few. Then didn't know what to do with them. They sat propped against the wall for a few weeks while I tried to figure out how to use them.

Then Last week, on my way back from a doctors appointment I stumbled on an electrical store that I had never seen before. It was so exciting!!! I am pretty sure the store keepers thought I was a shoplifter as I walked around putting together different couplings, socket cups and other stuff with interesting names. But approximately one hour later, I had a use, and a design for my barrel rings. and this weekend, I finally turned one into a lamp.

I chose unfinished brass to contrast with the deeply rusted metal of the ring and went for a pared down, minimal design with a single, small light bulb. Normally this would be used on a night light but at 40W it gives enough light without being blinding . I'm not usually a fan of brown lamp cord ( yes, I have opinions about this kind of ridiculous subject) but it seemed right for this project.

When it is on, the light highlights the patina and clean, sculptural line of the ring.

Originally, I thought i'd make a couple of these and maybe give them away as a promotional tool, but having finished this one, I've decided I want to keep it. Sorry about that. Maybe the next one...

So here it is. The Modern Industrial Glam Rusted Barrel RIng Lamp. Hope it inspires you to find some cool objects and make your own.

All Photographs by Ian Cartwright.

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