Unearthed Barn Find: Lamp


I don't know where this came from, and I don't recall buying it, but I found it out in the barn on one of my searches for something completely unrelated. I saw it on the floor, in a corner, virtually covered in barn swallow poop.

Let me tell you, bird poop is some corrosive shit. Hard to say which parts of this swing arm wall lamp may have been brass or brass plated, but the bird poop had eaten through the surface like molecular acid straight out of Alien.

I never did find what I was looking for, and now I don't remember what that even was, but I brought the lamp up to the house to decide what to do with it. So repulsive, I put it in a plastic bag to contain whatever biohazards were hitching a ride.

While I was finishing up the painting on the Faries lamp, I was in sort of a lamp-inspired mood, and pulled the bird poop lamp out of the bag. I deferred to my trusty hot water, Dawn dishwashing detergent, and an old toothbrush, and went to town scrubbing off as much filth as I could, which wasn't much. It's as if the poop and the lamp had fused and become one.

So much for the delicate approach.

I stepped up to a wire brush and a sanding sponge, and even that took some muscle. Yes, it left scratches. No, it wasn't pretty, but it was a heckuva lot more sanitary than when I found it. 


Unfortunately, even sanding could not render the surface perfectly smooth. I was beginning to think I wasted 45 minutes sanding a putrid lamp beyond salvage, but I remembered I had an old can of Ace Hardware Rust Stop Primer that, at last recall, felt pretty full.

Ace Hardware Rust Stop Primer is some great stuff, BTW. It goes on gray and thick and smooths surfaces like a magic eraser. It can even accept some fine sanding to get rid of paint boogers and flying insects that made poor life choices as long as you let it completely dry first. Basically, it can take some of your projects from hopeless to "hey, this really isn't so bad."

That can of Ace primer might have been in the barn for years, but after gently shaking it back to life I did a test spray, and it came out smooth as a baby's bottom. We're talking flawless. Hey, sometimes you get lucky.


After the first coat of primer on the swing arm and socket housing I was actually beginning to feel cocky. Never mind I had no plan for the lamp, no designated location waiting, no lamp shade and no particular color in mind - I was simply delighted the primer worked so well eliminating the scratches and damage. Shocked, actually.


From bird poopy to sleek and fabu. Now, what to do with it? What color should it be? What sort of shade would look good with it? What room should it go in? Did I have room for it? What do you even do with a single swing arm lamp with no twin?

Back to Google and Pinterest for ideas.

Methinks maybe too traditional and meh, though this lamp from Target is nearly identical to mine. It doesn't offend me, but it doesn't fog my windows either. It's quite a nice little lamp in a Pottery Barn knockoff kind of way, but that usually isn't my thing.

Source: Target

This lamp from Destination Lighting is also very similar to mine, but again, the drum style shade is pretty common. Not bad common, but a bit of a yawn.


Also, I think these full size shades are leaning toward cumbersome, and potential head bashers. I'm picturing more tidy and stylish. And, do I even want it to be black? Decisions, decisions.

I sorta like the glass shade on this lamp at Wayfair, and I kind of like the black and gold together, but my lamp's construction doesn't really incorporate rounded joints for that industrial / pharmacy / steampunk / Chitty Chitty Bang Bang / mad scientist feel like the Wayfair lamp does. Regardless, it is food for thought. I'm more likely to go that direction, shadewise. Something clear. Something with simple lines. Maybe an Edison style bulb? It remains to be seen.

Source: Wayfair

As is, the lamp is now poopless, primered, the wiring works fine, but it's missing a shade. I'll keep the Bird Poop Lamp in the back of my mind until the right idea comes along.

It's one less lamp corpse wasting in the stash, and "that's a good thing, Martha."


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About Robin D

Robin D. is a regular MacGyver-on-a-budget around the house, on a mission to make everything in life more awesome by Being Awesome, even when the proverbial wheels fall off. A fan of art history, power tools, anti-aging skin care and profanity.

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