Monday, March 9, 2015

1926 French Lighting and My Network of Junk-Loving Friends{farmhouse parts}

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It takes a village to build a farmhouse. Or in my case, it takes a network of about 50 of the best pickers in the United States who send me photos like this one which was sent to me by my friend Ann of Nellie's Barn Sale last week:


Ann and I joke that when the farmhouse is finally finished, I'll have to tell people that it was her doing. I guess that's what happens when you know someone for all but the first eight years of your life....they get to know your style pretty well. Of course, I do  say "no" sometimes.

The first photo above was a preview photo from one of the 217 shops in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin that Ann assembled for her Vintage Shop Hop this weekend. It was a place called Deconstruction Inc., located just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. I immediately phoned the shop owner, a great guy named Mark. He sent me the photos above and I knew from the photos that I had to have those fixtures. 


We arrived at Deconstruction early on Friday morning. The place is amazing! It's got a huge yard full of salvaged wood and granite and two floors of architectural salvage inside. I also found (well, Ann found and I purchased) some great, old wooden door stops and Mark's got an old well pump, some barn timbers, and a couple of doors that I'll need to go back to get in the spring when they're not frozen to the ground.  But on Friday, I was all about these lights!

Note: When using vintage light fixtures  in your home, have them checked by an electrician or other trained professional prior to installing them to ensure that they are safe and in good working order. 


As I disassembled them on Sunday afternoon and began to clean off just enough of the dirt to allow the detail to show through without removing the patina that took just about ninety years to develop, I discovered a patent date of  June 8, 1926 stamped into the metal rod at the top of the fixture just below the ceiling valance. There's also a company name that is French and "Canada" is stamped on the inside of the metal disks at the top and bottom of the fixture.


As I washed and dried the fixtures, I also discovered that one of the two lights apparently hung in direct sunlight while the other did not. The finish on one of them is more brassy and the other is more coppery. The fixtures appear to be mainly brass with some copper accents. I don't think that they were ever lacquered which is probably why they developed such a great patina.



The detail on them is beautiful.  There was probably a crystal or finial that hung from the bottom  of the fixture at some point and there may also have been glass hurricanes in them but I love them just as they are.


My son says that they look like something from The Hunger Games. This, of course, is lost on me because I've never seen the movie or read the book.  I think that they look a little bit French and a little bit lodge and just enough farmhouse to be perfect for use as the ceiling lights in the new cloister hall that will lead from the back of the house to my new studio.


I'm thrilled that they still have their original candles and that the ceramic sockets are in good shape. All I had to do was take them apart, clean them, and rewire them so that they're ready to be installed (in a few months when the hall is actually built).  Of course, I couldn't just pack them away in the box without seeing what they looked like lit so I wired one to a plug and took this really bad photo on Sunday night.


Then I wrapped them in tissue and packed them into a box which is carefully stacked in the dining room along with all of the other house parts that I've been collecting with the help of my friends. Ann...and Mary from Hello,Vintage who took me to Plaid Umbrella Studio's pop up market a couple of weeks ago where I found this gorgeous vintage umbrella stand for the foyer and a great mirror that will be used in the powder room.


When my shopping list for the farmhouse includes items like vintage concrete sheep and a life size metal horse head, it's good to have a whole bunch of amazing and talented friends who make it their business to collect stuff from all over the United States and are willing to help out a friend who works full time job and can only go junkin' on weekends.  

My darling friend Mary from Urban Farmgirl reminded me recently that I need to get a smartphone so that she can send me photos...I still need to do that one day soon-ish.  Even though I'm "technology challenged" Mary messaged me last week and sent me this photo of a horse head that she spotted at Bella Patina because she knows that a giant metal horse head is on my list. 


Just a few minutes later, sweet Christie from Carter's Cottage messaged me with this photo:


See what I mean? I'm blessed with an incredible network of junk-loving friends. Some  I've known all of my life, some for just a few months but we all share a common love of all things old and crusty, a joy in the thrill of the hunt, and a belief that the best very things in life are found. It's so much fun to have all of them (and all of you) along on the journey to create the farmhouse. 

If there's something special that you are looking for, let me know and I'll put the word out for you...after all, that's what life's all about (at least it is in mine), 
                                                
                                                            friends helping friends find junk!