I had very good luck and found a duck last Sunday. Actually, it’s a duck shaped teevee lamp. Teevee lamps are becoming increasingly difficult to find at bargain prices. However, this one put me back $7 to the Goodwill Store. The best part of the bargain, is that there is absolutely no damage to the piece, only a few minor imperfections to the glaze can be seen.
Mallard duck teevee lamps were manufactured by several potteries. The bird was very popular in the early to mid 1950s. This particular lamp was made for the Lane Furniture Company around 1954. While I had it disassembled and in the middle of the washing process, I decided to use the project as this week’s Floral Friday post. I wish I had thought to snap a photo of the lamp while it was filthy with crud.
Most of the joy of collecting teevee lamps comes from the act of cleaning and restoration of the item. I brushed out the nasty cobwebs from inside the pottery and around the light socket fixture before bringing my little treasure inside the house.
Disassembly is a breeze with most teevee lamps. You only need to remove one nut from the socket assembly to free it from the base. This lamp has the original Leviton with a rotating stem based switch. The wiring is also original, so I cleaned it up with soapy water, dried it, then polished it with a soft cloth saturated with Lemon Pledge®. Normally, I replace the wiring of old lamps. I highly recommend this. However, I decided to reuse the old wiring. This meant carefully scrutinizing every single millimeter of the insulation and plug. If there is even a hint of doubt, for fire safety sake, please replace it, it’s cheap insurance.
You can see that even the reverse side of the lamp is beautifully detailed. That’s one of the nicer features of accessories made for the Lane Company. This is a top quality piece of pottery and I intend to preserve it. The best way is to use a low wattage, low heat light bulb to avoid damaging the glaze by not prematurely crazing it. Most collectors use the large base 7 watt nightlight bulbs available from the supermarket or hardware store. I wanted to go one better. I decided to use a 2 watt LED bulb. By the way, when reattaching the socket, be very careful not to overtighten the nut. If you have a good finger grip, simply hand tighten it. If you must use a tool, very, very gently tweak it with a pliers, so you don’t abrade, crack, or destroy the porcelain mount.
At this point, most people would consider the lamp restoration to be complete. But I’m not that easily satisfied. I want some sort of planting in the base-well that is faithful to the style of the mid-1950s era. I rolled out a “snake” of florist clay and pressed it into place inside the base-well. This stuff is quite messy because the dark green dye gets onto everything it touches. If you wish to use standard modeling clay, that will also work as the mechanicals of the arrangement.
I raided my bin of vintage fake greenery and flowers next. I stuck the stems of the evergreens and green things into the clay. I finished the piece with vintage fake fruit and some very old pinecones. Don’t forget to always use artificial plantings with any planter lamp. Electricity and water don’t mix well.
While investigating the brand name and value of this lamp, I logged onto eBay and discovered there are several mallard duck styled teevee lamps up for sale. If this is your thing, this means there are plenty of projects available.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes you have a fine and ducky day.