Adjustable Student Lamp

The term “student lamp” usually refers to oil-burning lamps that became popular in the early 1800’s. They were typically made of brass and appeared in both single and double burner models. Oil was stored in a reservoir on one arm to counterbalance a burner and glass shade on an opposite arm. They were popular as reading lamps because they stood on an elevated post and could be carried or hung by the brass loop often found at the top.

This working art piece has the look of an “electrified” student lamp with its exposed cord allowed to drape freely around the base. It features adjustable shade height, it is constructed entirely by hand in solid brass and includes an antique Weber paddle-switched socket. The brass is carefully finished in a hot-applied durable verdigris patina, then waxed and buffed to a soft satin sheen. The base is heavily weighted to support the shade. The cord is a brown cotton twist over modern plastic-shielded wire with a vintage plug, so it’s safe while maintaining the antique style.

The shade pictured here is a 7-inch diameter cone constructed using granite textured yellow-on-cream art glass. I chose to place the texture on the outside of this shade for maximum effect when lit and to provide visual interest in reflected daylight. The smooth interior also reflects more light down and out the shade’s aperture.One example of a small desk lamp is the Adjustable Student Lamp, a design that includes several antique parts and a gorgeous green/brown torch-applied verdigris patina. The cone shade is build with the textured surface on the outside to provide visual interest during the daylight hours, while the smooth interior reflects light down and out its lower aperture at night. Constructed using only the best opalescent glass, the shade captures and scatters light throughout each piece giving a beautiful glow and shielding the eye from the the bulb’s direct brightness.

From a cost perspective these desk lamps are a lot easier to get into than a Tiffany replica. I use all of the same techniques to build a small cone shade like this one as I do on a full-scale Tiffany. With fewer pieces, the construction is faster, although still very detailed and time-consuming. Another benefit of a smaller desk lamp is the custom base. Constructed from scratch out of brass/bronze parts, they are inexpensive compared to solid bronze tiffany replicas, and you still get the gorgeous chemically-applied patina.

I love these lamps and their simple shades for eye-catching task lighting and authentic vintage decor. This is just one example of the type of shade that works with this style base, but other geometry and colors can be used.

~ by studiohanson on 08/27/2008.

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