Art Deco ceiling light

17 Apr

As I mentioned in a post about lighting for Project Reorganise, I have what has turned into a bit of a project over an Art Deco ceiling light.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

Art Deco light as it was when I bought it.

To recap, I was in a charity shop in Camberley and I saw an absolutely lovely Art Deco style brass chandelier. It wasn’t in the best of condition, as it was missing its shades, lacked any kind of mounting bracket, had no electrical connector (the wire had just been cut off), the top of the hub was missing, and also the cups for the missing shades were full of dead flies. However, it was only £7.25 and I saw a lot of potential in it.

Also in the shop were a pair of rather boring 3-bulb brass pendants which, crucially, had what looked like suitable shades and also had fixings that I thought might transfer over. At £12 for the pair I thought it was worth a punt so bought those too.

When I got it all home I was delighted to find that the shades did in fact fit the Art Deco light, although only just. I also found that, as I had hoped, the fixings shared a common thread size so I was able to transfer the D-ring from the top of one of them onto the Art Deco light and also use the rose from one of them, with a link of chain to join them. I also used the existing top cover of the Art Deco light, turned upside down, to cover the top of the hub. I then used standard 5-amp chocolate block to terminate the wires. The wires proved to be only *just* long enough, even with only 1 link of chain in.

First attempt (with donor lights behind)

First attempt (with donor lights behind)

Houston, we have a problem

Houston, we have a problem

The place I chose to fit the light was in my front hallway, immediately as you enter the house. Currently there was a recessed spotlight there, and when I pulled that out it was immediately clear that there would be a big problem – the hole left behind was going to be pretty hard to cover. I came up with an elegant solution pretty quickly though – cover the hole over with a ceiling rose. A plaster rose would be unlikely to take the weight of a light fitting, so I quickly settled upon the idea of a wooden one and found a seller on eBay who makes them. I chose one that would be wide enough to completely cover the hole, and then some, with the idea being to securely attach that to the ceiling, and then attach the light fitting to it. At £12 including postage, it was duly ordered.

Whilst I was waiting for that to arrive, I offered up the light to where it was going to go and immediately found my next problem – it was going to be way too long and any guests much taller than me were going to hit their head on it. And this is where it became “a bit of a project”.

Clearly the central hollow tube would have to be shortened or replaced. Since it was threaded at both ends, I couldn’t simply cut it down unless I was to buy a tap and die to re-cut a new thread. And replacement, shorter rods, are not immediately available unless imported from the USA as I measured the thread and found it to be Imperial – 3/8″ to be precise.

By stripping the donor light down further, I was able to get a short threaded rod which was just long enough to attach the D-ring directly to the hub, although not long enough to retain the inverted cover I had covered it with so that had to go. I then was able to use chain to choose pretty much any length I needed.

Light switch

Light switch

Then I discovered the third problem – the metal rose and mounting bracket from the donor light that I was planning on using was missing its screws and these were also Imperial which meant I had nothing that would fit. After some head-scratching and looking on eBay and Amazon, I decided that I would have to abandon using that mounting and buy a new one. Fortunately these are readily available and I was able to order one for a quite reasonable £9.99 incl postage.

I also ordered a nice brass effect light switch to complement the light.

A rose by any other name

A rose by any other name

The wooden rose then arrived, and I pulled the recessed spotlight out again and offered the rose up to the hole. It was quickly evident that I would have to drill the mounting holes as close to the stepped edge as possible and that, to be on the safe side, it would probably need 4 holes. I drilled and countersunk those, and then marked and drilled through the ceiling plaster. At least one of the holes was worryingly close to the edge of the hole and looked like it could fail so I reinforced everything with Ronseal Big Hole filler and allowed it to set until the following evening. Then I fitted decent winged Rawl plugs designed for hollow plaster walls. Perhaps I over-engineered slightly, but better to over-engineer than under-engineer. Especially as this light had become a bit of a labour of love by now!

The wooden rose then attached securely to the ceiling.

The new metal rose had also arrived by now, so it was time to complete the job. Attaching the light to the rose by a bungie cord allowed me to wire up the electrical connections (fully earthed, with a separate earth wire to the metal rose of course), and then it was a case of dropping out the bungie and taking the entire weight of the light in my left hand whilst trying to screw through the rose and into the wood. This was one time I really could have done with an assistant or else devised a better way of supporting it whilst fixing. It was really touch and go at one point and I dropped both screws which left me in the comical situation of being up a ladder with a light in one hand, a drill driver in the other hand, and no way to get down to the screws again. Fortunately there was so much electrical cable that I was able to come down enough to reach the dropped bungie cord and hook it back up again. I then retrieved the screws and tried again, this time with more success.

Unfortunately I accidentally over-tightened one of the screws, and the metal rose deformed very slightly which is a real shame. It annoys me a lot and rather spoils the effect a little but it doesn’t annoy me enough to make me re-do it. Besides, it had been such a job to get to that stage that I don’t think I want to do it again! I think that I can live with it.

So, here finally, in all its glory, is the finished light.

The finished item

The finished item

Just as with the jewellery, this has been a really interesting learning experience and I would have a lot more confidence if I was to attempt a similar project again. It’s also been quite fulfilling making something that is fairly unique and has had time and love poured into it. It gives me pleasure every time I look at it.


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