07 May 2016

Old Made New: Hobnail Milk Glass Lamp

My mother-in-law has been sorting through some items in her house, occasionally choosing a small piece or two for me to sell, such as an old tin of bath powder or a china serving bowl. But on a recent visit, Spouse brought home something I could not bear to part with: A charming old hobnail milk glass lamp!

  I've always loved hobnail milk glass but only have a few pieces. Over time, most of my mom's hobnail glass must have broken, because I found very little of it in my parents' house when preparing for their estate sale. 

When I was a little girl, we had a small drinking glass made from hobnail milk glass. I can remember running my fingers over the little bumps and my mom telling me it was hobnail milk glass, which I thought were very funny words. My mom also had a hobnail jewelry container (also called a cigarette box) on her dresser. I loved the box and brought it home with me from my parents' house, along with a couple of small vases.

I'd never mentioned my love of hobnail milk glass to my mother-in-law, so it was a nice surprise to see Spouse walk in the door with the lamp. I immediately asked her if I could keep it. I am delighted to have it and give it a new life!

The original glass shade on my mother-in-law's lamp had been replaced with a cloth one. The original shade would have looked something like this one. 

 A quick online check indicated that hobnail lamps are readily available at reasonable prices but the shades are extremely pricey. That tells me that over time, most shades have broken and are now harder to come by, driving the price up.

I'm not a super big fan of the original shade anyway and since they're cost-prohibitive, I started looking online to see if I could come up with an alternative shade to give the lamp a fresh, updated look. I was immediately drawn to this lamp project and tagged it as my inspiration piece. The brighter gold and the simple shade really draw the eye to the hobnail parts of the lamp. Even though it is a vintage piece, it now has a modern look!

Finding the right shade is going to take some time, since it has to fit over the glass chimney of the lamp. In the meantime, the metal parts needed freshening up. First I gave the glass parts a thorough cleaning, then I taped them off to leave only the metal parts exposed.

 The spray painting went very quickly using this paint:
It is a brighter gold than the original brass finish, but I think it gives the lamp an updated look. Of course, the purist in me paused and thought about it before painting, as one should always do before re-habbing a vintage piece. But since these lamps are readily available at thrift shops and online, I don't see the harm in giving it an update. If it were highly collectible and I hoped to sell it, I definitely would have left it in original form.

After painting and clean-up, here's the updated lamp! It really does look brand new. Now to find a simple shade that will keep the focus on the best parts of this pretty little lamp: the hobnail milk glass!

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