Friday, December 11, 2009

Guest Blog: Sandra Goroff-Mailly on vintage lamps

I worked with Sandra Goroff-Mailly as we were booking Judith Miller on The Skirted Roundtable. She mentioned this fantastic vintage lamp that she'd found and had restored and I asked her if she'd share her story here on ::Surroundings::. Thanks Sandy!

While other dealers were covering their tables with plastic tarps, an older man way in the back seemed unfazed by the rain. He rearranged the items on his table, still unpacking the back of his station wagon; it was only 8 a.m. Sunday morning. I was in Arundel, Maine at one of my favorite outdoor flea markets. I watched as he unwrapped something intriguing from dampened newspaper; my pulse quickened as I raced across the field to investigate. With rain comes great bargains as the dealers who remain are eager to make the day pay before the weather drives all the shoppers away.

A very dirty opalescent, hobnail lamp base -- partly round, partly pear shaped tapering at the bottom (probably from the 20's or 30's)came into view. It had twisted, dried up and tattered ends and an assortment of electrical apparatus separate from the base that I had never seen before. My heart began to race -- the shopping equivalent of love at first sight. I don't usually weaken at the sight of hobnail but this example was particularly alluring with leaves and poppies done in subtle shades of mauve and powder blue against an off white pearlized background.  I made an offer. The man countered and back and forth we danced.  We settled on $35 -- a great deal, I thought, though I kept a straight face hiding my delight until I was back at the car with my niece.  While I hadn't a clue how the lamp would work -- if it could ever work again, I could clearly see it on the table by my bed and sighed a smug happy sigh as I gently laid it on the back seat. I was giddy all the way back.

I love vintage lighting and even more fun, transforming vintage shapes and items into one of a kind lamps that mix so beautifully with any period. My collection includes torch lamps, perfume lamps, mid century, art deco, rings of saturn lamps and an assortment of this and that found over the years.

I am no electrician for sure and not mechanically inclined at all. I routinely take my finds to Anne at Concord Lamp and Shade. I love her enthusiasm when I walk in the shop -- no matter what challenge I put out before her on the counter. And so it was with my hobnail lamp base. Anne immediately directed me to a variety of shade possibilities, exploring the various heights and design, and together we sorted through a myriad of finials (I love finials). We picked out the softest ballet slipper pink shade and a slate blue and pewter finial. They would rewire my odd little lamp and sort through the wires and antiquated pieces for a fair price and I would pick it back up in about a week. My dirty hobnail lamp base had come a long way from the parking lot in Arundel, Maine to an honored spot next to my bed.

Here is a photo of that little lamp transformed along with some of my vintage perfume lamp collection.

Sandra Goroff-Mailly is a long time Boston based national and international literary publicist and voice actor, with a specialty in art, design, style and antiques. Clients include antiques and collectibles expert, Judith Miller, Erica Hirshler, Curator and Head of American Paintings at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, architect Jeremiah Eck, Garrison Keillor, Colin Cowie, Provincetown artist, Anne Packard and many others. Sandy is an avid collector who delights in vintage lighting, carnival chalkware, costume jewelry, art deco, finials, hood ornaments, whimsical ephemera, vintage green and turqouise and an irrestible smattering of this and that."  She has also handled promotion for Skinner Inc., The Brimfield Antique Show, Chris Van Allsburg, Maurice Sendak, fashion designer, Zandra Rhodes, the Kovels and the Boston International Antiquarian Society. Sandy does photography and watercolor as well."What I love most about going to flea markets," confides Sandy, "is that you never know what you are going to go home with."

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Ianny said...

Very vintage indeed.. they don't make things like that any more these days, do they?

La Petite Gallery said...

Fabulous!! Everything old is new again..

Except for me.

yvonne in Maine

Anonymous said...

Wow....I LOVED this trash to treasure story on vintage lighting. I wish my yard sale treasures were half as wonderful. Great lesson learned to keep an open mind with our bargain finds. Sandra provided a great example of transforming a flea market piece into a stunning example of vintage home décor.

Elaine victoria Grey said...

This article by Sandra goroff is very interesting. I am very familiar with the work that Anne at Concord Lamps Shade creates from items such as those that Sandy brings to them for transformation into lamps. It is extraordinary to see her selections and to read specifically about how it all evolved. Thanks for sharing this story. Elaine Grey, Collector, Artist and Photographer.

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