I, along with probably every other female out there, am fascinated with lanterns. Does it strike anyone else as funny that we’ve moved well beyond the time of needing lanterns for light and yet they’re popping up everywhere lately, but as decor instead of the means to see at night?
As Chris will remind you (over and over and over….), I have no problem purchasing completely useless, non-purposeful, and non-functioning items for the mere reason that they look pretty. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.
While I can usually get away with that, what I can’t get away from is spending a fortune on these “useless” items. That said, the lanterns above range from $24-$41 for a small one to $99 to $119 for a large one. Time to find an alternative.
On one of our many Habitat for Humanity ReStore trips, I found these guys (at $5 a pop) practically pleading me to take them home as my next project.
They were so dusty, I couldn’t even tell what color they were supposed to be until we got in the sun. Turns out they were brass at one point and had rusted into the above state. I originally planned to transform them and use one as a hanging pendant in our entry but it didn’t look quite right. I took a second look and knew they’d be perfect to repurpose for the “lantern look.”
Chris worked some voodoo magic to disassemble the lanterns for spraying ease. Then, they received a quick visit from my friend Mr. Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint, found at any home improvement store. And, voilah, instantly transformed from gross, rusty light to chic lantern.
There are exactly three phrases in the English language that will literally paralyze me with fear: my dad asking if I did my Calculus homework, my mom yelling my first, middle, and last name, and Julie yelling “look what I found!” in a store. This fear manifested itself in the ReStore a few months ago when Julie rounded the corner with an armful of some of the most disgusting lanterns I’ve ever seen in my life. You couldn’t have paid me to take them home, but apparently Julie thought it should be the other way around. Great.
First of all, I should note that these weren’t actually “lanterns” in the classical sense, but rather cheap brass lighting fixtures found outside any 80s or 90s builder home. The term “dime-a-dozen” comes to mind, but Julie had already decided that these could somehow be magically transformed into something that looked like a real lantern. That store isn’t air-conditioned very well and I wanted to go home, so at the time $5 a piece seemed like a reasonable price to pay if it let me leave. I should have saved my $5.
After we get home, it was obvious they needed to be cleaned up. One thing I learned about most lights like this is that they’ve very easy to put together; more often than not, they’re basically held together by one long bolt that acts as a spindle, and everything else is pretty much pressed together. Anyway, I got everything pulled apart and cleaned all the glass panels fairly quickly:
Here’s what the larger lantern looks like completely disassembled:
Anyway, cleaning the metal was going to be a task all it’s own. The corrosion had built up and trapped so much dirt that it was like a cocoon of nastiness encasing the brass, so I filled a bucket with vinegar and let it soak overnight. The next day I had a surface that was at least clean enough to paint, so I hosed it off and partially reassembled it. Time to spray:
I left the old light bulb in there so paint wouldn’t get in the socket.
And reassembling everything (I only lost one bolt!):
Huzzah! New “lantern”. Note that the top is different: I originally put this one together with the intent that it would hang in our entryway, but Julie didn’t like it there so in the “after” pictures you can see the dome and hook I ultimately capped it off with.
As you can probably tell, the lanterns are playing musical chairs around the house until I find the perfect spot.