Monday, September 22, 2008

Keys to the past

key lampshade
Originally uploaded by sassycrafter
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for this lampshade. Part of it is because I think it was a pretty cool idea to use old keys to cover a lampshade frame, but mainly it's because of my grandpa.

My Grandpa Fred was a stern man, born of German heritage and stubborn to prove it. I learned quickly that I should never interrupt him or challenge him in anyway, lest I be the unwanted recipient of The Stare. Yes, he could look at you across the dinner table in a way that made you want to disappear underneath the tablecloth and never come out again.

In some ways, I never felt that close to Grandpa Fred. I was always somewhat afraid of him. He always just seemed so angry and so different from who I felt I was. But when he and my grandma made plans to move out of their house and into an apartment, he gave me a box of keys and somehow that changed things.

I realized that maybe he and I did have something in common. We were both packrats. And apparently, the packrat gene stretched farther up the family tree--the keys originally belonged to my great-grandfather, Gustav Adolph Wahl. (Now if that isn't a good German name, I don't know what is!)

The keys sat in their rough wooden box for a few years before I dreamed up a use for them. I decided to create a chunky fringe effect around the base of a lampshade. It was great and my friends always complimented it, but then the cat knocked over the lamp and trashed the shade.

I pulled all the keys off that shade and pondered what else I could do with them that would be more sturdy. Sticking with the lampshade idea, I decided I could run a wire framework around a small lampshade and then wire the keys to the shade.

The end result was pretty striking. I just love how the shade casts interesting shadows on my bedroom wall when I turn it on each night before climbing into bed. And best of all, I think of my Grandpa Fred and say a little thank you to him for passing along his packrat gene to me. My life is so much the richer for it.

If you want a similar shade, here's how to make one:

  1. Start with a metal lampshade frame. It's best to pick one that's small yet sturdy, since the keys will add considerable weight to the finished project.
  2. Attach a piece of wire to the base of one of the vertical supports and wind it upwards around the shade. Pass it around each vertical support as you wind, to give the wire something to hold to.
  3. Dangle keys from the wire coil. Just thread a short section of wire through the top of each key and then twist them in place onto the shade. Keep adding keys to the lampshade until you're pleased with the arrangement. Put the shade on a lamp and watch the shadows dance.


beth, lisa and amy said...

Hi Sassy Crafter...thanks for visiting us. I love the key lampshade...and your story behind it. Many times that is the 'best' part of salvaging...the story behind the item. Also, I have been hanging onto some old purse frames and handles and wowie, zowie I am so happy I did... I love your felted purses with the reused handles. Keep up the good work! Lisa

Kim said...

Thanks, Lisa! Isn't it fun to find kindred spirits who live on the other side of the country and who are coming up with cool ideas? I'm sure we'll be spending more time on each other's blogs--I know I'm smitten with yours. Best, Kim

CJ said...

Hey, cousin! Nice entry. While I didn't know Grandpa Fred as well or for as long as you did, I certainly knew exactly what you were talking about, mainly because I think my Dad is the same person: now I know where he learned to give "The Stare" to incompetent drivers on the highway.

Kim said...

Hey CJ! Great to hear from you and glad you could apppreciate my post about Grandpa Fred. I didn't know you had a blog--I'll definitely check it out.


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