Can modern reverse painted lamp shades add value to an antique lamp base?
First, I think it’s important to understand a bit of the business model behind the antique lamps that inspire this art form in order to understand how modern reverse painted lamp shades can add value to antique lamp bases. I define the word modern meaning made within this century.
The antique lamp makers ran small production factories. Like many glass blowers and ceramicists of today, they employed a studio full of production artists who were responsible for creating the bulk of the work. Some of the actual fabrication for lamp bases and glass shades were done in house and some were sourced out as far as Europe. Often sketches of lamps were used to advertise new designs in newspapers and catalogs. Reverse painted lamps were hugely popular a century ago! It would be true to say that the antiques do inspire modern reverse painted lamp shades. All art forms have something before them to serve as inspiration, especially if there are traditional elements to the making of the art form.
A few people in each company would be key artists who acted in the roles similar to today’s Art Directors or Creative Directors and they would likely be the ones coming up with the new designs which were then produced by the studio artists. If the shade was indeed painted and signed by a key artist, then the shade would have more value especially if there are relatively few in existence. If a shade was mass produced by the studio artists, then the value would be…probably not so much and this accounts for the wide range of prices out there in the antique lamp world. Also, the fewer of a particular design in existence, the more valuable that piece might be. The art world works this way as well.
Sometimes people have ended up collecting the antique bases but don’t have the original shades. Several times a year I’m contacted by people who have antique lamp bases and like my work and inquire about fitting one of my modern reverse painted lamp shades to their antique bases. In some cases, yes, I can do this. It’s helpful to see pictures of the base and to have height measurements (and if you are considering one of my modern reverse painted lamp shades, please do send me pictures and specs with your inquiry—I can tell you almost immediately if my glass shade will fit well onto your base).
Antique lamp bases are very much beloved by the people who collect them. My work can add considerable value to antique lamp bases because my artistry has a strong value and in many cases, my shades are worth a lot more than many of the antique reverse painted shades of yesteryear…especially as I am a lead artist (and not a production artist). I’ve had demand for my work in glass for nearly a decade. My chandeliers and lamps have a strong selling value and a long track record. Though I also do the fabrication of glass and metal in my studio, I do not employ anyone else to paint for me. Each and every single reverse painted lamp shade is painted solely by me—my chandeliers and lamps are Originals and not production pieces. I am a small shop, a one-artist shop.
Garden Promise reverse painted lamp shade is a gorgeous new 18 inch shade. With a color palate of violets, soft greens, oranges, pinks, whites and soft sky blues, this reverse painted lamp shade is very vibrant and modern. Seen here, it’s pictured on a lovely and sturdy reproduction base—it’s a high quality base that will hold the size and weight of my glass.
Like previously mentioned, I create all of my glass lamp shades here in my studio in the greater SF Bay Area and a lot of work goes into each of my beautiful lamps—they are works of art in their own right and no two are ever alike…and my modern reverse painted lamp shades are not patterns either. Really, they cannot be duplicated the way patterns can be and that also adds value to my work as Originals are worth more than multiples or reproductions. Each of my collectors has a very unique and freely painted chandelier or lamp.
My modern reverse painted lamp shades won’t fit all of the antique bases out there but they will fit some. And all of this said, if you like my work I can provide a very strong and high quality modern made lamp base that fit my modern reverse painted lamp shades well.
I should point out here that one thing I do not care to do is reproduction work, meaning I don’t copy the old antique pattern/styles at all. It’s simply not something I care to do as an artist, it’s just not for me (so please, no offense ever taken as I say no to copy work—not something I would enjoy). I also avoid the actual antique shades and antique glass panels—old glass can have structural problems that you just cannot see and they are often best left alone to be appreciated as antiques that might be less than perfect. As a Glass MAKER myself, I could write a lengthy article on all the reasons I avoid commissions that require working with antique glass. My modern glass lamp shades and chandeliers are strong as they are 1/4 inch thick and they are also very lovely and modern in their profile, I do not mimic the designs of yesteryear but instead interpret new ideas into the glass in my own highly developed Zstyle.
It’s a nice way to pair old and new and still honor the wonderful traditions of reverse painted lamps.