Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fruit Lamp Repair #5

Classic fruit themed lamps were very popular in the 1970's and this post will show the repair of yet another icon of this era.  These lamps are characterized by the dimensional glass pears and apples and the quilt-style patchwork of different opacities and colors of glass. They also have a crown of upward facing identical pieces of glass at the top.

Fruit lamps are typically weigh a lot because they are heavily soldered.  This one weighs 12 pounds.  Most are swag lamps.  The bulb fixture on this one had been re-done at some point.  Since my husband Eric decided it could present a hazard, he re-wired the lamp as well.  This is my fifth fruit lamp repair.  Click here to view other fruit lamp repairs.  (Click on any photo to enlarge).

This lamp had been hanging from the ceiling for over 40 years.  Fortunately when it gave way and fell to the floor, no one was nearby.  It sustained damage to the crown and then landed on the side, cracking over 20 pieces of glass, including a few dimensional pieces.

The lamp hit the floor so hard it dented in the side.

Marked with blue tape are the cracked pieces I'll be replacing.  There are a few more on the opposite side, as well as one piece in the crown that needs replacing.
 First, I focused my attention on the crown.  Only two pieces were still attached, but loosely.  I carefully removed the pieces, some of them still fused together.  Below, I'm tugging off old solder and foil to prepare for new foil and a stronger bond.

This line of crown pieces were still firmly attached.  I like to keep old lamps as original as possible so that the repair is not obvious.  For this reason, I left this line together.  Since they will be soldered to the fixture directly, they will be sturdily attached when I'm done. I sprayed them with a generic grease remover and brushed them clean.
 Some of the glass in these lamps is not grinded on the edges.  Grinding helps the copper foil to adhere, so here I'm running the loose crown pieces through the grinder.

Copper foil comes in various widths.  This lamp was constructed using the most popular width, 7/32", so I used the same size.  Here I'm wrapping a crown piece with foil, which must be centered on the edge of the glass for even coverage on either side.
 Next I'm pressing down on the copper foil on each side, to make sure that no liquid or chemicals can get underneath and affect the adhesive properties.

At this point, all but one of the crown pieces is ready for installation.  Since I knew this lamp would need to be re-wired, I set the crown pieces aside and turned my attention to the dome itself.  Below, I'm wearing leather-palm gloves and I'm gently pushing and pulling the dome back into shape.  As I do this, the glass crunches and shards fall off.  Notice that the lamp is set in a large box of packing peanuts.  Because the lamp is so heavy and the dimensional fruit is fragile, I did the entire repair with the lamp in the box.

 Working on older lamps requires a lot of melting of old solder of questionable origin.  In order to keep my soldering iron clean, I frequently "tin" it using a block of sal ammoniac (ammonium chloride).  Whenever I'm cleaning the soldering iron, or soldering the lamp, I'm wearing a 3M breathing mask which protects me against toxic fumes.

Below, I've removed one of the cracked pears and I'm melting out the old solder that was surrounding it and several cracked adjacent pieces.
 When I'm working on an older lamp such as this, I try to retain as much of the original glass as possible.  In this case below, part of the amber glass cracked.  The upper part was fine.  Therefore, I removed the cracked piece and am using a hand file to grind the edge where I removed the bottom.  Since this lamp is an abstract design with so many pieces of different glass, I now have an opportunity to choose glass which is colorful and compatible to the overall look.
 The majority of stained glass lamps are constructed with a reinforcement wire around the entire perimeter.  Shown below is a new dimensional apple piece which is replacing the cracked apple I already removed.  I've rested it on the reinforcement wire and have soldered it in place. 
 Now I've made a manila folder pattern of the opening and I've sketched out three pieces of glass which will fit above the new apple.
 Shown below are the three new pieces above the apple as well as the replacement pear mentioned earlier.  Some of the pieces have been soldered and a few are copper foiled but not yet soldered at this point.
 After each piece has been soldered in place, I spray the affected areas with Kwik-Clean Flux Remover and wipe it dry.  Then I apply Novacan Black Patina as shown below.  This chemical turns the solder black immediately.  After a few moments, I wash off the remainder of the patina.
 Here is the newly replaced side of the lamp that sustained the most damage.
On the opposite side of the lamp, a green apple cracked, so I replaced that also.
 Here I'm plowing through the thick old solder using the hot soldering iron.  And again, I've left the wire reinforcement on the edge.
 And below is the new apple, soldered in place.
 At this point, all of the 20 or so pieces in the dome itself have been replaced.  Now I'm turning my attention back to the top of the lamp and the electrical re-wiring.  The owner of the lamp gave me a plastic bag with the fixture parts.  My husband set one of them inside the dome and bolted on another metal cross-bar for added strength.
 For the best bonding, surfaces must be clean.  Here I've sprayed he glass with cleanser and am brushing it down.
 I've removed and cleaned off the old solder and copper foil from the ends of the glass which are inside the copper ring.  Here I'm applying 1/4" foil to the edges of the glass.  I'm using thicker foil for a better bond since this area will be carrying the weight of the lamp.
 I've also added 1/4" copper foil to the edge of the fixture piece.
 Looking into the dome, I've soldered both sides of the inside cross-bar to the solder lines.  For this task, I used a hotter, 100W soldering iron.
 Next, I added lengths of tinned braided copper reinforcement wire to the gap between the fixture and the glass, again for added strength. Then I added solder to fill the gap so that the fixture is attached directly to the glass.  Now the weight will be evenly distributed on the cap and crossbar.  I also applied black patina to this solder.
 Looking down on the dome.  I cut and taped a round collar of manila folder paper to prevent the solder from dripping through to the area where the crown pieces will be attached.
 One of the crown pieces had to be replaced, so I made a pattern out of manila folder paper and cut a new piece of glass.

At several points around the ring, I soldered the crown pieces to lock them in.

 Now the crown pieces are soldered to the fixture.  After soldering, I cleaned and patinaed the pieces, then waxed the entire lamp. 

And here's the lamp, repaired and almost ready to be hung.

Final step .. Eric is attaching the electrical wire and chain.

And here's the finished lamp, with the once-damaged side in front.  Its now ready to provide another 40 plus years of light and enjoyment to the family.  Thank you to Mr. G., Dave, Carolyn, Gene and Mary for bringing your family heirloom to me ... It was a pleasure to repair!

 Please visit my website to see my custom windows and repairs (click here).  And if you are on FaceBook, become a fan and I'll keep you up to date on all my stained glass projects.  Call me any time at 201-600-1616 or email with your questions. Thanks!

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