Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Can I Build the Light Fixture I Can't Afford?

I saw this light fixture at a pricey store down in Tribeca recently and I love it!

Sadly, the price is $9500.

So, it occurred to me that I might be able to build one like it myself, except that it has some pretty hard to reproduce features.  Like this...

I especially love the way the arms are positioned. Each of the five arms has a solid brass ball at its proximal end and the bottom hemisphere of the ball has holes all over it. Instead of using an articulating system, the arms are positioned by resting one of those holes onto one of five pegs emerging vertically from the central orb.  It is a slightly arbitrary system - you have to just pick a hole and see if you like it, but with no ability to make micro-adjustments.

The shades are attached to ball shaped swivels that move on only a single axis. 

It seems pretty custom...  But I'm motivated and I went in search of the parts I would need.
Here is what I found:

A 5.5" diameter brass ball for the center orb ($90 from Grand Brass): 

1.5-1.75" diameter solid brass balls for the ends of the arms ($8-$18 each from Grand Brass):

They have one 1/8" threaded hole already.

The tubing is the easiest part to find ($6 per foot at Grand Brass) - need to choose between 1/2" and 5/8". 

It will need to be threaded, but that should be relatively simple.

Swivels from for the distal ends of the arms (~$6 each):

And for the pegs, these things from

The hardest part to duplicate, it turns out, is going to be the lamp shades.  I can't find a similar lamp shade anywhere.  Here are some options I came up with though:
$12 from Ikea - I could just use the shade.

overpriced on ebay.

approx. $30 each on ebay.

approx $30 each on ebay.  I think this one is my favorite.
All totalled, the parts threaten to add up to around $500-$600 plus whatever labor costs.  That isn't cheap for a DIY project, but I don't have to buy them all at once.  I could start with the components needed to make just one arm and if that doesn't work then there is no point doing more. 

So, yes, it is involved.  It would require some machining and some brazing and a lot of polishing, but I think it might be a fun project to try.  Before I start, if I start, I will want to go back to the store and look at the original one and try to more accurately gauge the size of the tubes, balls and center orb -- but I'm pretty sure I can get everything I need except the exact shades. 

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