The Boat Jumble
For us, authentic salvaging, or upcycling, is about taking an object which has been given up on and truly discarded, recognising its hidden potential and coaxing it back to life as something new and beautiful. There is something quite deeply satisfying in this process. The 'before' and 'after' photos, the knowledge that you have given something old, ugly, abandoned, a new purpose ... Not that we want to get all deep and metaphorical about it, but everything deserves a second chance, after all ...
Therefore, we're generally reluctant to visit auctions or to purchase items which are already perfectly good as they are, simply to make them 'prettier', so when I was invited to a boat jumble by fellow boat dweller, Geoff Seago, I was in two minds, worried that I'd end up spending money on 'stuff' that I didn't really need. Still, thinking 'what's not to enjoy about a good boat jumble?', I tagged along anyway. (Geoff, incidentally, has spent several years working on the magnificent conversion of his ship Diction into a houseboat and has kept a great blog recording the process at mvdiction.co.uk.)
As it happened, it was Geoff who spent all the money. I parted with a total of £12.50 on a pile of plunder which took the two of us two trips each to carry back to the car and fill the ample boot. I'm not sure exactly how much Geoff spent, but his one small carrier bag and the look on his face assured me that I had had a very good day.
The Tilley Heater / Lamp
Two of my purchases from that bountiful day, a couple of extremely dirty, dusty old paraffin heaters, came from a very interesting French gentleman who I enjoyed spending time chatting with. One of these heaters has given me all sorts of problems with its lacquer coatings and fittings. I've lost track of all the times it's been finished and then unfinished! That one, however, is a story for another time.
This old Tilley here is a delicate combination of polished brass parts and sympathetic restoration, my aim here being to create an electric light that looks like it was originally made that way. All the brass fittings have been restored, whilst the 'reflector' has been polished to an incredible shine which reflects the light of the bulb in a really interesting and unique way. This is also due to the polished stainless steel mesh basket - (which used to be the sea water strainer from a boat engine!) - which acts as a shade for the bulb and creates an incredible pattern on the reflector, even when the light is switched off. And the base, which retains the patina of its years, has been buffed to a sparkling shine.
Admittedly, I never expected this old paraffin heater to come to much, but after all the hard work restoring and converting it into a lamp, we think it's one of our favourite pieces and has that perfect combination of old meets new.
If you're interested in purchasing this lamp, be assured that it has been fitted with all new electrics, including a complimentary gold flex, a new plug, and a bayonet bulb fitting with on/off switch, and it is currently available to buy from our store on Etsy for £220.00.
It's no secret that I do, on occasion, enjoy a good scrounge in the odd skip or two. It might even be fair to say that I have a bit of a reputation for it. Lisa likes to joke that I'm a Womble (not entirely sure which one) whilst Lisa's Dad, less endearingly, calls me Steptoe. Still, you'd be amazed at what people throw away. Take this strange looking object, for instance ...
I came across the white aluminium shell of this initially unidentifiable something whilst tipping around in a skip which had recently been littered up by generous donor 'Nick-the-Tug'.
It was clearly missing some parts so, whilst trying to figure out what it may once have been, I continued to rummage and one by one the missing pieces began to turn up until eventually, the all-important domed front window appeared and I realised that what I had in front of me was some sort of underwater submarine camera. Not exactly your everyday skip find.
I was feeling pretty smug with my discovery but it took some time before I eventually figured out what I was going to do with it next.
After studying it from every angle, leaving it unattended and sneaking the odd sideways glance, dismantling it into various parts and staring at it over a cup of tea, I decided that it was probably going to become the oddest lamp that I had ever attempted to make.
The main body was coated in some white paint that really didn't want to be removed and it had a horrible silicone feel to it. Neither were part of my vision for the lamp so I had to spend many hours of paint scraping and wire brush work to return it to the bare aluminium. Some further sanding and a trip to the buffing wheel eventually revealed the shine I wanted. The front window also needed some work to remove some of its worst scratches. The main body came apart into two pieces: The top half I discarded (at least for this project) and the bottom half I retained. I then went in search of the other parts I would need ...
One big problem was the gaping hole at the rear of the lamp from a missing part, so I searched all over the place with tape measure in hand, not really knowing what I was actually looking for, when one of those rare moments happened: Exactly the right thing, precisely the right size, presented itself at just the right moment, cunningly disguised as an old car speaker. More cleaning, the countersinking of fastening bolts and a paint job later and I had solved the problem of the missing piece.
So, just the details: Curtain pole bracket, brass pipe fittings, copper pipe, rubber grommets and feet, a load of stainless steel screws and M6 bolts and, oh, lots and lots more polishing ... There is always more polishing ...
All that was left now was to choose the electrics. These needed to be all new to comply with regulations. After some discussion, Lisa and I decided on a really pretty twisted brown flex which matched the wood base and the copper pipe, and a black switch and plug.
For the light itself, we had originally thought of using a full frequency SAD (seasonal affective disorder) bulb, so the lamp could be positioned on your desk for feel good vibes on those winter days, but for the purposes of photographing (and because it looked so nice) we settled on a vintage globe bulb.
The end result is a repurposed submersible camera, turned upside down and re-imagined as one very strange and unique desk lamp. We think it looks a little like a sea pig, a creature from the deep and certainly something which will be a talking point in its new home.
The 'Sea Pig' lamp is currently available to purchase from our Etsy Store for £295.00.
Years ago, I had a friend who used to work on some pretty powerful cars, modifying them into insanely powerful cars. Now, I wouldn't like anyone to think that I have a habit of hanging around garages in my spare time but this friend of mine would often have some interesting parts lying around ... okay, they were mostly in the bin! (I guess I started the salvaging habit early as the exhausts on the pick-up truck were made using the stainless steel from a Mercedes SL55 he was upgrading ...)
One of the pieces I picked out of his bin was this aluminium inlet manifold from a V8 engine that was being treated to a supercharger. Designed to vary the length of the inlet tract changing the engine's torque curve (sorry, getting technical) I thought it looked like an interesting piece. I've always tried to look at things as purely architectural, noticing the design and the shape over and beyond a thing's intended purpose. It is this way of 'seeing' something which helps me to recognise if it is worth salvaging. With this particular piece, I felt that it was simply a beautiful architectural thing which deserved a second chance.
As is often the case, however, I kept the piece for a long time before deciding to turn it into a lamp. (A lot of the things I find become lamps and I sometimes wonder if it's a case of 'when your pottery goes wrong, you get another ashtray'). Just the thing on its own seemed enough, but after much cleaning and polishing I decided that a lamp it would become, so I fitted it with all new electrics, an energy saving CFL bulb and some complementary brown cotton twist flex with black inline switch and a black plug. Finally, I made a mount for it from a beautiful piece of hardwood which I waxed and polished and fitted with rubber feet ...
So. there you have it. One V8 Inlet Lamp. It may not have the sounds anymore, but it sure looks good.
The lamp is currently available to purchase from the Old Rope Salvage Store for the bargain price of £220.00.
Old Rope Salvage