Sadly, I am often brought ‘Tiffany’-style lamps to repair. While these shades look very attractive, a discerning eye can tell that frequently the copper foil they are made with is very narrow and the coloured glass is also very thin. This means that they are very delicate and easily damaged.
One area where they fail frequently is at the vase cap – the round part with a hole where the top of the harp from the base passes through to support the shade. Even thin glass is quite heavy when constructed into a lamp shade and all the stress is placed on the joint between the vase cap and the glass at the top.
Unfortunately, this was the issue with a pair of Tiffany-style lamps brought to me recently. They had been stored in a garage for many years. On one, the vase cap had completely come off and several pieces of the glass around the top were missing or loose. On the other, the vase cap was hanging off.
The first challenge is always to match the glass that needs replacing. The stained glass used in these lamps is not generally available in the UK or other Western countries, so the nearest colour and texture match must be found from other suppliers. The next trick is to try to ensure a strong solution to the problem, but one that does not detract from the existing design too much. It is a balancing act.
Sometimes, the glass joints are just too flimsy to support the vase cap adequately so the strain needs to be spread out. In such cases, it can be necessary to reinforce the shade on the inside. Both of these shades needed the addition of steel strips inside that would hold the weight away from the vase caps.
Happily, after a lot of effort, these pretty lamps are now sturdier and back with their owners to enjoy again.