May 16, 2010

Knock-off Pottery Barn lamp

Ever since I saw this lamp from Pottery Barn, I couldn't shake the image from my mind. The curvy mercury glass was so pretty and the light bulb visible through the unlined lamp shade gave it a somewhat playful appearance. I loved the effect!

What I didn't love (as usual) was the price they were demanding.

No matter how much I loved it, I knew I couldn't get on board with that astronomical dollar amount. So I sort of put the idea of owning it out of my head. Fast forward to last week when I was at the ESW looking for Mother's Day gifts and a lamp for the guest room. I found a real cutie--the perfect size for the top story of the night stand--for a whopping $4. It was very brassy and tarnished as you can see.

A coat of primer made a huge difference, but from here I was at a loss for what to do.

Then I remembered the oh-so-coveted mercury glass lamp. But how could I achieve that look?! Roeshel had great success with her mercury glass pumpkins by just using silver and brown paint, but I wasn't sure if I could recreate that look on the lamp. Then, out of the far corner of my mind came this idea.

No, that's not spray paint and it's not silver leafing. It's a product called "Rub & Buff." I'd seen it used by Gina at The Shabby Chic Cottage, but she'd used their "Patina" formula. I used their "Silver Leaf." I had no idea what the heck I was doing, but at only $4 it was was cheaper than silver leafing and a whole lot easier (I had no idea what leafing actually entailed)! But before I started, I painted the lamp espresso, that way any color peeking through would be dark, just like regular mercury glass.

(Erm, sorry for my--ahem!--slightly crooked picture)

Then all it took was rubbing it on. I used my finger (which was very silver by the time I was done) and just sort of went at it! A little goes a ridiculously long way. I couldn't believe how little of the tube I used. Once it's dry (and it dries with in minutes, if not seconds) all it takes is a little rubbing with a rag. Any areas that rubbed off in a way I wasn't happy with, I just added more of the cream. I love the way it works! I'm going to go crazy with this stuff (after all, I still need lamps for our master bedroom).

It's not a dead ringer for mercury glass, but I have no doubts that this was a better choice than spray paint.

Now all I needed was a lamp shade. I tried to make my own frame and cover it with burlap. The frame making went fine, but the whole covering it with fabric was a little more difficult than I had anticipated. I started searching for just a simple burlap lamp shade, even though I really wanted the see through effect (which can only be achieved with an unlined shade). On a whim (read: out of sheer desperation) I happened to check Pottery Barn's website, which is where I found this.

It's much more sheer than the burlap, but the concept is the same! I love the softness is gives the metal of the lamp in their photo. But the best part was the $19.99 clearance price tag! Well, that and I paid for it with a gift card so technically, technically there was no out of pocket cost. =)

All in all, my new lamp cost me $28 total, but only $8 out of pocket! If you're better at covering your own lamp shade, this is a wonderful way to add a little sparkle to your room without shelling out a lot of paper.

I'm linking up to:
DIY Project Parade @ The DIY Show-Off
Trash to Treasure Tuesday @ Reinvented
Power of Paint Party @ Domestically Speaking


  1. Your lamp looks fabulous! I have used rub n buff silver several times on knobs, frames and recently a brass letter K. But I love how you used it over the dark paint. Going to have to try this on something!

  2. You are good! I love the knock, in fact I like the base better! Good job.

  3. I love this! I am so glad I found this....just last night a bought a thrift lamp for $5 and was looking at the same pottery barn pic for an inspiration! Must be fate, ha,ha..

  4. Amazing...great job.

  5. Amber,

    Wow - what a great unsolicited testimonial for AMACO's Rub 'n Buff product! Your lamp turned out amazing. So glad to see our product worked out well for you. If okay I will post your project on our Facebook and Twitter pages and direct them to your blog for our followers to enjoy. Let us know if you do any more Rub 'n Buff projects.


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