MINE: Lighting and Lighting Parts

Welcome to another special episode of MINE, the show where I go out and buy cheap old stuff and then we play show and tell! Except I’m the only one playing! It never gets old! For me!

They say with thrifting, lightning never strikes the same place twice but I’m not sure that’s true. Point of fact, after some truly exhaustive research on Yahoo answers it appears it’s not even true when you’re talking about actual lightning. It’s sometimes true with regards to thrifting, but nevertheless I persist. I will return to that same funky watering hole 25 times because of that one time I showed up and there was a cold bottle of Fiji nobody else seemed to notice.

OK, that’s enough metaphors to last us a while. Point is, I went back up to Albany on a recent thrifting trip (friend needed interior doors, I needed to oblige my FOMO) and I feel I did PRETTY GOOD. My first stop is always the Historic Albany Foundation’s parts warehouse—I’d keep it a secret, but I love these folks so much, that wouldn’t be cool. The Historic Albany Foundation is a non-profit, so aside from a ton of other important work they do, they have an architectural salvage warehouse full of things saved from old buildings during remodels or prior to demolition. Prices are VERY fair—I can’t fault other salvage/antique places for needing to turn a profit, but it really feels this place is there to help and support people at any price point who are trying to do right by their old houses. This old house owner appreciates that a lot!

First up—such a pretty glass shade! I love that it’s so simple and versatile but still has some unique detailing. The rest of the light is missing, so this could become a semi-flushmount or a pendant. For $5, it was a buy-now-and-figure-it-out-later kind of situation. I try to keep an eye out for milk glass shades where you can’t see the bulb—I feel like LED bulbs are getting better and better looking all the time, but I still don’t really want to see one exposed.

Then I saw THESE and at $20 for the pair (in PERFECT shape) it was…the same situation. So pretty! I’d guess they’re kinda late Victorian? All these shades are good excuses to design and make some light fixtures. Which really is my idea of a good time (seriously, it’s relaxing!), although coming up with the supply list is kind of overwhelming. I’ll likely order parts from Grand Brass, which my friend Allison over at Deuce Cities Henhouse uses for her slick-ass DIY light fixtures (some of which are now available as kits—so smart!). I have some ideas! I’ve been considering using them for my main kitchen fixture. Hmmmmmm.

BTW, the bowls on the shelf above are by a local ceramist named Andrew Molleur who is SO goddamn talented. I have a few of his pieces around the house, and watching his work and business evolve since I’ve lived here has been a real treat. Plus he’s a really cool nice guy.

More Alabax lights! The one on the left is new (to me) and the one on the right you might remember from the last time I went up to Albany! I put them side-by-side so you can see the difference in shape/scale.

But even more exciting was that it’s a perfect mate with the other Alabax fixture I bought almost 3 years ago! What’s funny is that the one from 3 years ago was $85, and this recent acquisition was $5! The only difference is that the first one was fitted with new socket/wiring/crossbar, and the new one doesn’t have any guts. That’s a pretty easy fix, though, and it won’t cost nearly $80! I think these are both headed to the cottage, but that could change. I sort of feel like I overpaid the first time so now it’s like the balance has been restored. $45 a fixture, not bad! (that’s some Advanced Placement thrift calculus for ya.)

For something like $2, it just felt unethical to leave this cute little utility light behind. Even if it just ends up at the top of some basement stairs or something, still worth it.

AND THEN! To round out this theme! LOOK HOW CUTE IS THIS BABY DECO LIGHT! For $10! My friend said I shouldn’t buy it because it was “just so common” and I was like “I CAN DO COMMON! I’M FINE WITH COMMON!” and it was settled. I love the detail on the porcelain base, and the intact shade is just so classic.

I know, what a diverse collection of items—ha! Does this ever happen to you? I feel like it happens to me a lot when I thrift—everything I find that day will sort of adhere to a certain theme for whatever reason.  Like the other day, I bought several things and they were all green. Since I feel I’ve done my scientific research for the day with the aforementioned lightning thing, if anyone can shed some light on this phenomenon (I didn’t mean to write that pun, but once I did, I wanted everyone to endure it), I’d really like to hear it.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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  1. 10.24.18
    greta said:

    I think that you have seen something in the places you go or magazines you read that catches your eye and then you file it in your brain and forget about it. When out shopping, items that seem similar ring the “like” bell in your brain and it starts dinging. Highly scientific, I know. Or, maybe you have a highly specific FOMO?

  2. 10.24.18
    The Lady said:

    guess i’m a common gal, cuz OH EM GEE THAT LIL DECO BABE. I want it.

  3. 10.24.18
    Sara L. said:

    I love your shopping trips! They have really inspired me to look for the simpler older stuff that you collect. I love the light fixtures you find, even if I have probably seen a million of them throughout my life in people’s houses and not noticed them. The simple, form-follows-function designs are really classics. And that deco fixture is adorable!

  4. 10.24.18
    Chris said:

    The baby deco light is amazing. I love them all, but that one just sings to me.

    • 10.25.18
      Linda said:

      Me too!

    • 10.25.18
      Lori said:

      Me three!

  5. 10.24.18

    Bud! Thanks for those kind words. You know I’ll always be happy to make you a light fixture, custom or kit – it don’t matter to me. Your shade scores are insane – love that utility light.

  6. 10.24.18
    Pam said:

    OK, I would have bought all those pieces. You need to shop with someone else though… what a bummer.

  7. 10.24.18

    I love reading your notes. Not only are they interesting because I love old houses, but also fun and even uplifting. I feel inspired to put some new photos on my little inn’s face book page. I lost the directions to my website (drat!) but I should be able to remember how to post pictures on the face book page. Thanks for the boost.

  8. 10.24.18
    Brooke said:

    Ugh I love your writing. Never stop!

  9. 10.24.18
    Colette J. said:

    What great find, especially the last one! I had one, but I broke it and I was going to replace it, but they are so bloody expensive!!!

  10. 10.25.18
    lisa anne said:

    It never gets old! For us!

  11. 10.25.18
    Mouse said:

    One man’s hot mess is another person’s Just Hot. Admittedly I am a straight woman, so not really what you may be going for, but you look great! Plus your house and lawn. :)

  12. 10.25.18
    Lynne said:

    There is so much I want to say about this post, I just don’t know where to start. I guess with the bowls – thank you for the link, because as soon as I saw them I was about to scroll down here to ask about them. That dude is talented. I love all these lights. I have a friend near Albany and suddenly I’m getting an urge to visit… I found a light similar to the art deco beauty at the bottom, only pointier and with a metal base on a 1′ long rod. It was in an antique store in Morocco that had so many amazing light fixtures. This was the only one that would fit in my suitcase. It’s been 2 months and I can’t stop thinking about that place. It’s almost worth it to fly over with an empty suitcase just to go back to that shop. I know these posts don’t get the attention of, say, a kitchen reveal (hope for your sake your kitchen is getting close to being revealed!), but I love them. Thank you for saving these lights and giving them proper homes!

  13. 10.25.18
    Kim said:

    The three fixtures in my kitchen had the shade from the last photo when I bought my house. I took them down, but I can’t bear to get rid of them because they just scream ‘Wizard of Oz’ to me for some reason. Hopefully I can re-use them at some point, because they really are neat-looking, even if they’re ‘common’.

  14. 10.26.18
    Debora said:

    Gran Brass is a great resource – I used to work in a custom lighting showroom, everything assembling by hand on site and we got ALOT of our supplies from there. Should you need an additional source (especially for custom bits) check out Liberty Brass: https://www.libertybrass.com/about-liberty-brass.html

    • 10.26.18
      Daniel said:

      Thank you so much, Debora!

  15. 12.26.18
    Glenn said:

    Recently discovered fedonlights.com which has an amazing vintage/period lighting store in Saugerties. An endless selection in a quaint corner building.

    • 1.2.19
      Daniel said:

      Yes, that place is magic!! Typically out of my price range, but I love going in there to look around. He really has the best stuff!