As well as making my own stained glass lamps using traditional methods, I am often asked to repair Tiffany-style lamps that people have bought elsewhere over the years.
I always find it interesting dismantling these old lamps and discovering how previous stained glass artists and artisans cut the glass and assembled the pieces.
It is also very satisfying to be able to take a damaged or dented Tiffany lamp and repair and refurbish it to restore it to its former glorious self.
It is true that there is a lot of work involved in carefully removing broken or cracked pieces of glass from a lamp shade. Often the solder surrounding the damaged areas has to be re-melted in order for the glass to be removed. Then the pieces must be matched for colour and texture and new pieces have to be cut to size, foiled and soldered into place.
One lamp I repaired and refurbished recently was this circle design shade comprising hundreds of circles of brightly coloured glass. Unfortunately, it was suffering from various issues, including broken and missing pieces, being dented out of shape and having no vase cap – the brass part at the top which takes the fittings that support the shade on the harp beneath. It had been living in a loft for many years so had the additional problems of being coated in grease and a layer of thick, grimy dust.
I set about removing and replacing the damaged areas, making circular patterns in a range of sizes in order to create each glass piece. I also had to melt the soldered areas around the hole where the vase cap had once been to try to reposition the glass in a more curved and less dented shape.
I replaced the vase cap with a new one and soldered it in firmly. The new glass areas were bead soldered inside and out and a patina applied to blend it with the original parts of the design.
Finally, and not insignificantly, I battled the grease and grime on the original glass. Lots of the colours were transformed completely by this effort – what had looked like a dull green glass became a vibrant turquoise and browns became glowing reds.
The bottom edge of this Tiffany lamp shade had been designed to be uneven and I kept this feature in the refurbishment, simply replacing the damaged and bent areas. It is important to repair a shade sympathetically.
The best aspect of a Tiffany lamp repair or refurbishment is fitting the shade to a base and switching on the power – the light really brings the design alive! And in a shade like this with so many bright colours, it is a real joy to see the transformation.