If you gather a few odds and ends, you can "make light"
of our latest in "current" events:
Any piece of handwork can be a source of pride for the doer
and of inspiration for the admirer. Moreover, when art
serves a purpose beyond its aesthetic value, it can become
even more worthwhile . . . and our unusual heat-circulation
lamp is a good case in point.
The unit is really nothing more than a copper shade that's
fitted with a bulb and a perforated light shield . . . but
just below that tungsten globe hangs a muslin
"sock" — a tube about eight inches in diameter and
six feet long — which has a small electric fan housed
in its foot.
And, as noted above, there are practical reasons for this
attractive combination of components. Besides providing
warm, diffused illumination, you see, the fixture draws hot
air from the ceiling area (where it naturally collects) and
pumps it down to floor level (where chilly drafts seem to
run rampant). So the device not only makes efficient use of
available warmth — increasing the usable heat
provided by your woodstove, for instance — but
furnishes some degree of air circulation, too.
MOTHER'S research director, Emerson Smyers, came up with
the idea while reminiscing about the old-limey paddle fans
that graced many a residence and public place not too long
ago (and have recently made quite a comeback). "Most people
think they were there for cooling, but they're only half
right . . . those big blades did a heck of a job
circulating heat, too, and anyone who doesn't believe it
should take a closer look at some of the original models.
Many actually had resistance elements built right around
the motor housing that could be switched on in the winter
to throw off additional warmth."
In an effort to adapt that technology, Emerson merely
designed a more compact package and placed his fan (which
uses about one-quarter the energy required by its
predecessors) out of view. The result — which would
cost about $45 if all new parts were used (naturally, we
scrounged some of ours) — required a 19" X 27" sheet
of 16-ounce copper (this item can be purchased as scrap for
a couple of dollars), a porcelain socket fixture with a
threaded mounting stud, a swag light kit with a switch, a
150-CFM (cubic-foot-per-minute) 8"-diameter circular fan
(available from Solar Usage Now, Dept. TMEN, Box 306,
Bascom, Ohio 44809 . . . write for catalog ordering
information, or use any comparable muffin fan and adapt the
design to fit it), about a foot of 1/4"-loop wire chain, 2
yards of muslin cloth, three lengths of copper-coated 1/8"
welding rod, 8 feet of speaker wire, seven 1/2" plastic
tether rings, a 4" X 27" scrap of sheet metal and a piece
of foam rubber of the same size, and a half-dozen small
sheet metal screws.
According to Mr. Smyers, assembling the lamp required only
the most basic metalworking or electrical skills, but did
call for the use of a soldering iron, an electric drill
with a bit assortment, tinsnips, needle-nosed pliers, a
hammer, a pin punch, and a sewing machine.
Emerson first scribed and cut out one 16" and one
3-1/4"-diameter disk, a 2-1/4" X 27" strip, and a 4" X 10"
rectangle from the copper sheet. Then, using some leftover
scraps, he made three 5/16" X 9/16" tabs, which he bent
Next, he bored a small hole at the center of the larger
disk and removed a "pie slice" section — 2-1/2" wide
at its base — from it. After bending the penny-metal
pie into a shallow cone, adding (optional) decorative ribs
or flutes at 1-1/4" intervals, and holding it to that shape
by soldering the three Z-tabs at equal points along the
seam (then filling that joint as well), the researcher
drilled a 3/8" opening through the cone's apex . . . and a
1/4" hole about 3 inches from that peak. Then he soldered
three 3/4" rings (which he bent from short pieces of
welding rod) at equal points around the lid's lower surface
to support the 8"-diameter sock collar.
The bulb's jacket is similar in construction to a tin can.
To make it, Emerson — using his pin punch —
first drove a patterned series of holes through the 4" X
10" copper sheet, to within 3/4 inch of each end. Then he
bent a 1/8" lip into one side, formed the piece around a
section of pipe to create a 3 "-diameter tube, and
completed the Z-seam by trimming and bending the mating
edge and soldering the seam. The can's lid is the 3-1/4"
disk with a 1-1/4" hole cut through its center, and both
its inner and outer edges nipped every 1/4 inch or so to
allow the outside to contour to the cylinder for a clean
solder joint, and the inside to grip the porcelain lamp
Assembling the sock section was simply a matter of bending
the long copper strip and the sheet-metal panel into 8
"-diameter rings . . . Z-ing and soldering their seams . .
. and stitching the muslin to form a tube that's 8" across
and about 6 feet long. The welding rods — bent into
8"-diameter rings, tacked together, and stitched into the
muslin sock at 2-foot increments — hold the cloth to
shape, and the 1/2" rings (sewn to the seam on the inside
and about a foot apart) serve as guides for the speaker
wire that powers the fan.
The motor, by the way, is held within the lower housing by
the same sheet metal screws that pin the sock to the ring,
and foam padding was used between the fan frame and the tin
collar to subdue noise and vibration. (In a similar manner,
Emerson screwed the upper part of the sock to the copper
collar . . . then bored holes in that ring to
accept a trio of 4" chain sections.)
Once the lamp and fan wires were joined within the lamp
socket, that fixture fastened — with the aid of
washers — into the conical shade, the free fan lead
threaded through that lid and the guide rings, and its
terminals wire-nutted to those of the motor . . . the lamp
was ready to hang. But, as Emerson points out, its
appearance can be enhanced by adding designs — using
a quality textile-printing ink — to the outside of
the muslin before the sock is assembled . . . and that hour
or so of extra effort can make a pleasant world of