We recently picked up this antique piece hoping to restore it to a working industrial modern table lamp. The O.C. White company is still in business, founded over 100 years ago by a dentist who used his tool making skills to construct his own work lights. The highly adjustable designs made their way into the growing industrialized world where they became electric workhorses, lighting machinists’ workstations in factories everywhere.
Despite their widespread use in factories, these sought after fixtures are not exactly common today. Availability continues to be hit or miss and sales online drive high prices. In addition, since most examples came out of manufacturing environments, they are not well suited for home use without some creative modifications. They typically have simple mounting hardware intended to be bolted directly to walls or work benches. Nevertheless, the ingenious cast iron swing arm and adjustable knuckle joint continue to inspire decorators with unique industrial modern design elements.
In order to convert this one into a usable item for the living room, we first had to address peeling enamel and rust. We wanted the look of oil-rubbed steel. After cleaning a century of oil, dust and rust, we finished the parts with paste wax. We replaced the socket with cast brass and applied a dark iron patina with a torch. Before wiring, we constructed a base out of a cast iron chemistry stand and steel tubing. This was the perfect complement to an already wonderful industrial design.