A long-forgotten piece of iconic Arabic Copperware.
Lately, I have been sorting through my pile of “projects”. These are items that have been part of auction lots and clearance lots that are too good to recycle but need a bit of thought and effort to upcycle and make into something new and something a bit different and unusual. As I write this the UK is in the latter stages of its 3rd Covid pandemic lockdown, this lockdown has provided many of us with unexpected time and opportunity to sort such projects out as we are stuck at home. This is the story about an upcycling project based on a rather sorry looking and incomplete Dallah Coffee pot. Dallah coffee pots are of Arabic origin and are used in the middle east and North Africa, there are many different types and styles and some of these ornate older pots are highly valued being collected by enthusiasts across the middle east, the USA and Europe.
This particular pot is not a collectable version, it is a utilitarian pot made by a copper craftsperson in the early to mid 20th century. The construction is tank-like, it is not “pretty” but was made to do a job, the pot is made from copper with brazed seams and ha heavy brass handle, brass base and the remnants of a hinged brass lid holder, the lid is long gone making the pot not suitable as a decorative piece. The condition of this old pot is sound, solid but it is dirty, highly tarnished and weathered. I plan to turn this lovely old piece of copper into an interesting, unique and one-off table lamp. The pot has a solid bottom at the base and a heavy copper rim at the top making it a sound base for conversion.
The Coffee Pot as found.
Put a lid on it.
The first thing that the pot needs for its upcycling into a lamp is a solid “lid”. Luckily I found a perfectly sized steel chandelier cup in my box of parts, the old cup has a faceted design and an old gold finish which lends itself well to the coffee pot conversion. Once I had found the lid I wanted to give the Dallah a light provisional polish. Note – Antique and collectable copper and brass should never be polished and should always be left in an aged state, by polishing any older Antique item you can easily halve its value in a matter of minutes. This old pot was very dull and looked a bit worn out, the provisional polish was to remove the weathering and matte look of the copper and to allow the material to shine and to let the methods of manufacture start to show through on the new lamp.
Here is the lamp after 30 minutes with a very fine grade of wire wool.
The next stage was to make the wiring route for the new cable. I plan to enter the wiring at the base of the lamp through the heavy Brass ring and then send the cable through a length of threaded 10mm steel tube, this 10mm tube is an industry-standard and is easily found online. Using 10mm nuts the solid base and new lid of the lamp would be clamped together using the small 10mm nuts as the clamping force. The Dallah was drilled out and the wiring tubes were fitted into place both on the cable entry point and also at the midpoint of the coffee pot base, all of these tune cable entry points were protected with 10mm plastic grommets which are a safety feature that protects your cable from any potentially sharp edges.
Here is the Dallah pot with the wiring route in place and with its new lid clamped into position.
Repolishing and bringing the Copper and Brass back to life.
The Dallah lamp was now in need of a finish refresh. I gave the pot a few minutes with a good quality polish called auto solve, the polish started to give the brass a lovely aged glow, I polished the lamp only gently as I wanted to leave much of the original tarnish marks. The main aim of this light polish was to bring out the various materials used and to show the basic manufacturing methods used in its hand made construction. It would be easy to spend more time and polish the lamp to a deeper and flawless glow however I think the pot looks better with more character. The new lamp has some of the Dallahs life history with dark lowlights showing through. The newly polished finish worked well in revealing signs of manufacturing which add to the look of any piece of old copper or brass lighting.
The Dallah lamp after polishing reveals some of its Ethnic detailing.
This interesting piece of ethnic brass lighting now needs new wiring and lighting fittings.
When upcycling anything into lighting or restoring or rewiring any lamp there are several important safety points to remember.
- Always follow your local or national standards and only use components that meet your countries regulations.
- In the UK metal lighting such as this lamp needs to be earthed (grounded), check the wiring standards in your country.
- Always smooth down and fit protective plastic or rubber grommets to areas, such as tubing, where your cable passes.
- Always fit a cable-stay, point where the cable is fixed that will stop the wiring being pulled out of your bulb holder in the event of the cable being pulled or the lamp dropped.
The wiring route on this lamp was very straight forward, at the top of the new lamp I decided to fit a female brass nipple to extend the bulb holder clear of the lamp, this would provide the option of showing the profile of the entire lamp in use, depending on lampshade choice that is. A bulb holder was wired up and fitted to the top of the new lamp. UK wiring is Green & Yellow for Earth – Blue for Neutral – Brown for Live.
New wiring components and safety features.
The finished lamp.
The lamp was tested and was given a final clean protected with a final coat of wax. For this final protective coat, I use a top-quality wax which is called “Renaissance Micro Crystalline Wax Polish” This is the best wax finish for such a final finish and project like this as it cleans, protects and brings out texture and colour from any material, it is used and recommended by top museums. It is expensive but a little goes a long way and it is definitely worth the cost.
In use and with a shade fitted the new lamp comes to life. Here we can see the lamp in use with a simple paper shade, the light from the shade brings out the dents, life and character of this great old coffee pot.
This was a short job that was fairly straightforward. I am really happy with the result and I am delighted to have provided this old forgotten piece of Arabic copperware with new life.
Earthed Wiring. Earthed switched Brass bulb holder. Grommets. Cable stay. 000 Grade Wire wool. Polish. Wax and sundries.
Time Spent on the lamp – 2 Hours.
I often have several Vintage Industrial items for sale in my eBay shop here – Hertfordshire Lighting and Design
I would love to hear from anyone who has performed a similar refinishing project; it’s always great to share ideas with other people.
Even a simple restoration project like this can bring a great sense of satisfaction and is great fun. I would encourage anyone to bring new life to an old unloved item.
- Shop around.
- Find an item.
- Give it some thought.
- Do a bit of research.
- Antiques are Green.
If you have any questions or need advice on any item of Vintage lighting please contact me and I will do my best to help.
Michael Adkins. firstname.lastname@example.org