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Clarinet Lamps

Clarinets are one of the best instruments to work with for making a lamp because:

  1. They are straight and hollow, making assembly fairly simple.
  2. They are a very good length for making a table lamp for reading.
  3. There is a very large selection of styles that can be used, depending on the intended setting and the type and age of instrument.
  4. They can easily be sourced for a reasonable cost.

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I made this lamp in July 2009 and donated it to my church for inclusion in a basket that was auctioned off to benefit our local Samaritan Center.  The base is African Coralwood (that is its natural color), and I used the mouthpiece to fashion the finial.

(I forgot to take photos ... doh!)

In May 2008 I created a lamp and donated it to the Missouri Theatre in Columbia, MO for inclusion in a silent auction fund raiser they were having to help pay for recent renovations.  The lamp was made from a clarinet that they provided out of a pool of old instruments that they had laying around.

This lamp was commissioned by a good friend (and very nice lady) in Feb 2008 for her equally nice husband who had recently retired from being a music professor at a local university.  The base is made from Quebracho (she asked that I make the base heavy to reduce the chance that their grandchildren would knock it over), and the shade was custom-made from fabric provided by the customer.

I received a very nice e-mail from her after she presented the lamp to her husband:

"Oh, dear Greg, [my husband] is THRILLED with the lamp. It was a total surprise. And .........I'm THRILLED with it, too. It's perfect! Crafted so beautifully. We couldn't be happier. It's a masterpiece. We will enjoy it every day. The shade looks great..........the lamp base is heavy and grounded (no worry of it toppling)........gorgeous wood..........delightful clarinet......I can't say enough. THANK YOU so very much. God bless,"

In Dec 2006 I made a clarinet lamp for a nice lady from Iowa who commissioned it for her friend in Arizona.  The clarinet is a silver-plated metal model that has tarnished to a very attractive (IMHO) patina.  The base is black marble.  I was very happy with the look of this lamp and it was tough to ship it out!  But I got a very nice e-mail from her, which made me feel better about letting it go:

"I just wanted to let you know that the lamp was fantastic!  You did a 
great job with choosing the shade, shipping, etc. and the lamp itself 
is very cool.  Thanks so much for working with me on this.  It made a 
special gift for my friend.  I'll keep your contact info handy because 
someday I want one for myself!!"

This is a clarinet lamp that I made in July 2006 for some good friends who were preparing to move to South Carolina (yeah, I know ... like they needed something else to move).  The clarinet is called "Mark II" and was in wonderful external condition, but had a broken internal joint which made it perfect for me!  The base is black marble.

This clarinet is a vintage silver-plated brass model with a octagonal marble base, and now belongs to my sister, Lynn. (Dec 2004).

This clarinet lamp (a 2004 Mother's Day gift to my mom in North Carolina) has a marble base and a high-intensity florescent bulb which makes it a great reading lamp.

Tips for making your own clarinet lamp ...

bulletI usually do not use the barrel ... the lamp is already going to be very tall without it
bulletI will normally cut off the extended portion of the upper joint to create a nice flat spot for the base of the harp and light socket ... if you don't want to mess with that, it will usually work okay without doing it, but I think it looks cleaner
bulletyou also will likely have to remove the small internal protrusion (yeah, I think it sounds like an oxymoron also, but it's the best way I can think to describe it) at the top hole ... the easiest way to do that is to remove the top key and then push the protrusion (which is usually metal) out from the inside and it should pop out, then replace the key.
bulletAfter that, it's all coasting downhill ... buy parts (or a kit) from your favorite hardware or DIY store
bulletrod ... a piece of all-thread pipe, usually sold 36" long, which runs up through the base and the instrument to tie everything together ... you will cut this to length when you have all of the pieces, just attach the socket and pre-assemble the lamp and mark the cut-off spot with a sharpie or something, then remove it and cut it with a hack saw ... you will also want to paint the rod flat black (or wrap with dull black tape) so that it doesn't show through the holes in the clarinet
bulletsocket ... for a clarinet lamp I recommend a push-through switch ... unless you use a big base, the lamp will be too tippy for a pull chain cord
bulleta lamp cord, 18AWG, will fit up through the rod ... you will be tempted to buy an extension cord and cut off the end to save a few $$, but 16AWG cords will not fit through the rod
bulletharp ... 1" shorter than the height of your shade, so that the shade will cover up the socket and harp but not the clarinet
bulletshade ... I can give you the name of a lady that makes custom shades if you have the fabric
bulletfinial ... the part that threads on the top to hold the shade in place ... I have used mouthpieces for finials a few times and I think it looks kinda neat ... the easiest way is to find a button finial or something that you can insert inside the mouthpiece
bulletbase ... something big enough to keep the lamp steady ... I make most of my own bases these days, but I've purchased pre-made bases with good success, and you can find them in a lot of places (such as AntiqueLampSupply.com if you want to look online) ... the base (along with possibly the shade) is your chance to really get creative if you want ... the only rule is that you need a hole for the rod to pass through, and you need a pocket on the underside to allow you to install a nut and for the cord to come out the bottom and then to the back of the base somehow

Hope this helps ... good luck!

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