The piano lamp is back in place, bringing a warm glow to the living room. It had been removed as part of a massive structural engineering project begun in January of 2011 but was returned to its rightful place today.
Member and friend Michael Lehr purchased it from someone who originally bought it 20-30 years ago in New Jersey. “It might be the one from The Farms, but I am not sure.”Michael says, “I knew when I purchased it, there were only two or three known examples. If I didn’t arrange for The Farms to have this one, they would probably never get one.” So he donated it to The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms nearly nine years ago.
The chandelier had been neglected over the decades and was missing its canopy and chain, and was also missing any lighting components (oil font). The patina was in poor condition with corrosion on copper as well as an overall dullness. The iron hooks and banding were rusty. The material used for the panels had been replaced with a paper material that did not allow any light through the cut-outs. There were not very many lengths of the small decorative chain hanging around the fixture. And of course, it was a bit out of shape and no longer really round. The chandelier was sent to Aurora Studios in the fall of 2002 for a complete restoration. The good news was that the patina could be restored. Often, original patinas are either long gone (sometimes polished) or irreversibly damaged. Dawn Hopkins and Michael Adams of Aurora Studios were able to remove the corrosion, enhance the original patina and restore the iron work. The main problem was the missing canopy. Because the fixture hung from around log, the curve appeared to be accommodated with what they referred to as a “can” with a more typical Gustav canopy attached to it. They visited the Farms and did some profile measurements to properly fit the canopy to the log and then fabricated a canopy with a similar “can” shape.
They had one rather fuzzy photograph of the original piano fixture for reference. Fortunately, there were other references to use to fabricate the proper chain the fixture hung from and the small decorative chain around the perimeter of the fixture. They replicated the original Gustav hardware that attaches the chain to the canopy and also made new panels of mica to finish the main body of the fixture.
There was one more delay in the Farms receiving the fixture. It languished at the studio for some time waiting for an original oil font to be found. Although there were many people looking for one, it did not materialize. The decision was made for the studio to fabricate a hammered wiring assembly that would mimic a font with the glass hurricane. At last, when the lamp was ready, Board member Dave Rudd picked it up from the studio and then drove more than four hours to personally assure its safe delivery to the Museum, where it was installed in the winter of 2009.
During the recent structural repairs on the staircase and foundation the lamp was removed and carefully stored in the collection room. After nine months it has now been reinstalled in its place of honor over the piano where it graces the living room with its cozy glow.
If you’d like to learn more about it, be sure to be here on Sunday, October 16, when Dawn Hopkins and Michael Adams will be here to answer questions and demonstrate their craft as part of Catch the Spark weekend.