Welcome to Plaster & Disaster! We’re psyched that you’re here. This blog is where we will share our progress and set-backs as we revamp two 1950s fixer-upper homes with DIY projects and maybe some hired experts here and there.
If you’ve come here from Sage’s previous blog Malden Place (or even Beacon Street Manor) you are probably wondering, who is this Naomi-person, anyway? Nice to meet you, too! Sage and I met at work and very quickly discovered a mutual love of all things home improvement and blogging. We just had to start a blog together.
Things were going along great, but if you want to know the very moment that I KNEW Sage was my blogging soul-mate, it was when I texted her this very depressing image with just one question: “Potential?”
I had come across these lamps at the Goodwill Store in Allston, MA. They first caught my eye because they were a matching pair, but as I looked closer I liked the overall shape, size, and texture. And also the price – only $7 each!
Despite the fact that they were wonky and discolored, Sage answered immediately: “Absolutely!” And then hardly one minute later suggested that we each decorate one of the lamps and share it here on Plaster & Disaster. I said,
“get your filthy hands off of my awesome lamps!” “OMG what a great idea, let’s do it for our first post!”
For mine, I knew immediately that I wanted to glam it up with a gold-dipped look while keeping the fun texture.
I started with a good cleaning, first with soap and water, then with a deglosser, and then a wash down with water again. I think their previous owner was a smoker, because it was pretty nasty what came off of there! I put on a coat of primer just to give myself a good stable surface to work from, and then a coat of plain black craft paint. I had a moment of plan-regret partway through and almost switched to a Mondrian design, but I pulled myself together and moved along with things.
I had planned to use just paint and liquid gold leaf, but once I saw it in all black, I decided to change the texture of the gold portion so that it actually looked like it had been dipped or covered in metal. Otherwise, the existing ridges would look accidental and not awesome.
I taped off an uneven circle around the base, and coated liberally with wood-filler, taking the tape off immediately so the wood-filler, which quickly dries to be quite hard, wouldn’t lock the tape down and ruin everything. After it set I went back over it with second coat of wood-filler to fill in the uneven places.
Once fully dry, I sanded the wood-filler to take off the roughness. I didn’t worry about getting it too uniform, as I figured the metal coating I was trying to replicate could very well have some nicks and dents. I painted the whole thing with another coat of black paint, so that the top was now fully covered by two coats, and the bottom portion would have a dark base to work from.
The fun part was painting the bottom with a coat of Liquid Leaf in gold. I haven’t tried actual gold leaf and would definitely like to, but the liquid stuff seemed most convenient for this project and more versatile to have around. The little jar I got for $5.99 (actually $2.99 with a 50% off coupon) barely has a dent in it and will last through a lot of projects.
I only needed one coat over the black paint, and I used small downward brushstrokes while painting, so that any imperfections might look like hammered metal. Paired with the uneven surface of the wood-filler I think it looks pretty authentic!
To finish things off I put on two coats of high-gloss poly to bring out all of the textures, topped it with a light linen shade, and added a circle of felt to the bottom so it wouldn’t scratch any surfaces.
It is not a LOUD piece, but it is dark, weighty, and high-contrast, so it adds some intrigue.
I love the original texture even more in glossy black. For now it is in the living room, but it will probably make a tour of the house before it finds a final resting place. It goes with just about everything!
Sage here, trying to follow Naomi’s amazing lamp makeover. Naomi shared her concept with me while I was still trying to figure out what on earth I planned to do, and I suddenly realized that I had a lot to live up to. So, here goes!
First, I should note that I didn’t do this project alone — my cat, Murphy, provided critical assistance throughout.
Rather than do a thorough cleaning like Naomi did, I took the cheater’s approach and decided to sand down the whole thing. The ridged texture was cool, but since the lamp was a relatively soft unglazed ceramic, I thought it would be interesting to sand off the ridges to get a smoother texture. I used a medium-grit sanding block, and it only took me about 15 minutes to sand down the whole thing. I left it a little bit textured, but much smoother than the original.
Then I taped off the socket and cord with painters tape so I could paint with abandon, and applied a few coats of deep turquoise spray paint (“Sea Glass” by Krylon). I picked the color because I thought it was important to make it clear in our very first post how desperately in love I am with the color turquoise. I’m warning you now, it knows no limits. (I skipped priming because the surface was dull to begin with, but if it had been glossy I definitely would have done a few coats of spray primer first.) As the quality of the photos reflect, I mostly worked on this at night in our basement.
I thought it would be fun to have a turquoise base, and then experiment with splattering a second color on top. In a small spray bottle I combined gold craft paint and a little water, and started spritzing. Here’s what I got on my first attempt:
I ended up layering on a lot more paint than I’d intended as I got a feel for the spray bottle, and didn’t like the look. Rather than recoating it with turquoise, I decided to just wipe the gold paint away with a paper towel. This left a shimmering residue of gold across the entire lamp, which I actually really liked because it softened and lightened the turquoise a little. Then I experimented with spraying the gold paint again, adding just a little at a time. When I had a look that I liked, I let it dry and then sprayed on a high gloss lacquer spray paint.
DISASTER! The lacquer paint, which claimed it was clear, was actually black. My beautiful gold splattered paint job was ruined. To fix it, I repeated all the previous steps, which was a pain but not all that time consuming. As far as disasters go, I’ve had worse…. Then I found some new high gloss clear lacquer spray (Rustoleum) that was actually clear, and applied a few coats to achieve a nice glossy finish.
Finally I removed the tape from the top and cord, popped on a linen shade, and voila!
The gold ended up a little drippier and less “splattered” than I was going for, but Naomi pointed out that it has a ceramic glazed look. Isn’t she the best? I do think I managed not to totally embarrass myself in this first joint project, so I’ll call that a success!
And here’s the obligatory before-and-after:
So there you have it, our first set of projects as a blogging duo! If this is how much fun we had with a set of grimy lamps from Goodwill, imagine all that lies in store for the future.
For you observant people out there: yes, we have the same shade on our lamps. We did not do this on purpose, we just discovered when we revealed our lamps that we’d both gone to the exact same random internet vendor (Lamps Plus) and from the thousands of options in their inventory picked out the same linen drum shade.
AND, we made it all the way through this lamp post without any puns about lampposts. That bodes well for us, folks.