Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Magic Lamp(s)

A few months back, before my niece was born, I visited my sister in Houston. I went expressly to help her find lamps for her bedroom, and a dresser to use in the nursery as a changing table. It's always best to have a friend along, for these momentous decisions.

I came home with two brass lamps of my own. They're big: 34" tall from base to the top of the solid brass finial. The lamps themselves are solid brass, and polished to a mirror-like sheen, except for one small tarnished spot on the back of one of them.

Because they're solid brass, they are also incredibly heavy. They double as weapons in case of zombie attacks.

The lamps forced me to buy end tables for my living room, as I had nowhere to sit them. So I bought the 1960s Baker Chinoiserie end tables I blogged about in May (see Eating Crow).

The lamps are also, at present, indecent. They are naked. Undressed, if you will. Devoid of lampshades.

When I bought the lamps at a charity retail shop in the Heights, they had enormously broad aubergine coolie shades on them, a bit dented and scratched, and altogether unattractive. I tossed them in the trash before bringing the lamps home with me.

For months, I looked at lampshades online, searching for the perfect ones. I received money for my birthday with which to buy lampshades for my beautiful lamps. I visited a lamp shop just down the street this past Thursday, and received a quote for the lampshades, about what I had expected to pay for them. I just wasn't entirely satisfied with the dimensions.

Coolie lampshades are a strange and rare breed. They were popular in the 1950s and 1960s - which is why they have such an atrociously politically incorrect name - but their desirability has fallen off significantly as everyone rushes around, snatching up drum shades and square pyramid shades and the like. Coolie shades are much much smaller at the top than at the bottom. Most of them in the 22" diameter category - the category I need - have an 8" aperture at the top. Which was broader than I desired. I was afraid I'd have to have custom shades made.

And then, I discovered Enchanted Lighting, which gets rave reviews in D Magazine. It's the sort of place that does inexpensive lamp repairs, but sells $600 lamps. No, that does not include the shade. And that's a small ceramic bird lamp, mind you, not a big lamp. Not like one of their carved rock crystal pillar lamps, standing 48" tall and costing in the thousands.

That's what we call an "aspirational lamp."

They do have reasonably priced lampshades, however, and their customer service is wonderful. Unlike the customer service at a couple of other lamp stores I've visited, the clerk didn't try to push me to buy what they had in stock because it's such an imposition to order a lampshade.

It's the sort of store where they don't see a young person and immediately assume that I have no idea what I'm doing, even though I'm carrying an enormous brass lamp.

A brass lamp the likes of which you would be hard pressed to find new in Dallas.

Because it's amazing.

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