Thursday, September 8, 2011

Ceiling Light Fixtures and Shades ... Ho-Hum

It's a beautiful September day on Maui and I 'm writing about ceiling light fixtures? Do I hear a collective yawn from my readers? Come on! What could be more exciting than ceiling light fixtures? Here in Hawaii you would hear crickets at the mere mention of it.  Our island homes all have the ubiquitous ceiling fan in almost very room. Heaven forbid, ceiling decor in a tropical home?  Certainly, ceiling fans are a necessity for a hot and humid climate. So imagine this ~ my husband's horror when I declared, "I am tired of ceiling fans, I want a chandelier in our bedroom".  While I had visions of a heavenly celestial orb hanging from the bedroom ceiling shooting out beams of light when the morning sun crept in our bedroom, Fletch had visions of sleepless, sweat-soaked nights awakening to swollen eyes and a bad attitude from the lack of sleep. "We'll be hot" he said.  I quickly responded,  "Our bedroom will look pretty". I saw the defeat in his eyes.  Once again aesthetics had trumped practicality.  This is a picture of our bedroom chandelier.
a chandelier adds charm to any room or entry way

Ceiling light fixtures and shades come in every size and fashion, designed to meet your personal needs and of course, personality. Light fixtures are like "the cherry atop the cake".   It ties the essence of the room with one decorative bow ~ or in this case, not so decorative?
Antler Chandelier? Not my cup of tea but I am sure who ever owns this, LOVES it! Says oodles about their personality, doesn't it?

Besides my chandeliers, yes I said it in the "plural" (I have one in the boudoir), I adore these glass fixtures from the 1930's.
Because this particular fixture is in our dark hallway, I was unable to capture the true pallid color of this shade without illuminating it. The glass on this shade is called "milk glass" because the white is so, well, milky. Milk glass is easily found on sites like eBay but finding an old piece like this can be challenging and expensive.
for sale at Ooh La La, Maui

This is another example of a glass ceiling shade from the 30's (pictured above). If you are over 50 (or a visitor to my home), you will remember these type of shades hanging in your Grandma's house. They are suspended by 3 sections of ball chain, secured from fixture to 3 small holes in the shade. These types of shades come in all sorts of colors and designs. From light blues, shades of creams and blood reds to raised ornate glass with flowers and leafs or etched glass with a simpler motif.  

I have these shades scattered around the house ~ in the computer room, entry way and guest room. This beautiful blue shade (photo below) was bought at a tiny antique store in Shell Beach, California, located on the main street running along the community. I had every intention of using it in the guest room as a ceiling light shade but Fletch put his slippered (flip flop) foot heavily down at this suggestion. He would not allow our guests to suffer the indignity of awakening in the night to sticky jammies and dampened hair like the creature from the horror flick, "The Ring". So, what to do with my shade? I fashioned it to hang on three silky ropes and then nestled a tea candle deep in the shade surrounded by clear decorative stones.

Stumped on how to clean these fancy shades?  Glass light fixtures are easy to keep clean but may require you, from time to time, stepping onto a footstool and detaching the shade to be washed in your kitchen sink. We always find a collection of dust and dried up dead moths in our shades.  With very dirty or recently purchased vintage shades, you may have to soak them for a few hours, then take a used toothbrush to scrub in nooks and crannies to get the job done.  Be kind to your vintage pieces, use a mild dish soap.

Chandeliers and cut glass shades are a little trickier because you do not want any residue left on them, you want that baby to SHINE!

Here are a few tips on how to clean your chandelier, cut glass or any fixture with crystals.


TURN OFF YOUR LIGHT! And cover the switch with a piece of tape as a reminder.

Cover upward pointing lights with plastic or sandwich bags. Make sure you securely fasten the bags.

Lay a water proof covering under the light to protect floors, rugs or fabric that could be damaged by drips of water.  The solution you'll be using is strong.  I cover my nose with a bandana tied around my head to mask fumes.  I'm kind of wimpy. 

Mix one part isopropyl alcohol with three parts water and pour into a plastic spray bootle

Spray the fixture with the cleanser avoiding any wires. Let it drip dry. Once dry, remove the bags and wiped down wells and non-crystal parts with a soft dry cloth.

Do not turn on fixture for at least 24 hours.

If I have some crystals with a coating of stubborn Maui dirt, I dip a cloth in the solution and gently wipe the crystal until the grime is removed.

After the 24 hour period is over,  grab another form of alcohol ~ preferably a glass of fine wine, a flute of bubbly or a sophisticated cocktail ~ turn on the light and voila'!  Enjoy the light show.

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