In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Kitchen lights

Now that I know that we're not losing our home, I decided to celebrate by finishing a fun project I've been gathering parts for for a while, a coordinating set of lights for my kitchen to replace the plastic mounted bare bulbs we've put up with since buying the place.

The first one is near the sink and counter. I started with a vintage pulley my wife found on Ebay. I simulated old cloth covered wire by sliding modern two strand electrical cord into nylon tubular webbing. I branched the cord by splitting the two strands in the middle, removing some insulation at staggered spots and wrapping the connection in a electrical tape secured with thread. The join sits on top of the pulley and is close enough to the ceiling to be practically invisible. I picked up some heavy duty sockets and vintage style bulbs at Home Depot. The whole is secured to the ceiling with by attaching a simple wooden disk to the fixture mounts. I painted the disk to match the ceiling, drilled a hole for the cord, and screwed in a small hook.

The fixture over the kitchen table was a bit more complicated. The frame of the fixture is metal hanging basket that I reversed the chains on to create a hanging dome shape. I used the same sockets and cords that I used for the other fixture but the junction was a little bit more complicated. I used a small kitchen funnel for a junction box. The connections were too bulky for screw on connectors so I soldered them into inelegant but functional lumps. Once I tested my three tentacled light beast I mummified the conections in electrical tape and secured it to the frame. The sockets I attached with three small bolts. The cords I attached with twists of rebar wire. Placing three of these twists close to where my junction funnel sits on the frame holds the funnel securely in place. The ceiling mount is identical to the one holding up the pulley light.

The last step was to put both fixtures on dimmer switches with fancy brass plates aligator head knobs.


  1. Hmmm. I have thought of doing something similar, but have demured because I though bare bulbs would be to glaring. Has this been a problem?

    1. They are a little glaring at night to eyes used to frosted bulbs, but the dimmer switches eliminate the problem. If they seem seem to harsh you just turn them down. Also when they're dialed back it really shows off the filaments Eventually I'd like to have some task lighting for the counter so I can keep the ceiling lights on low most of the time.

  2. Very crafty of you. I like the effect.