Let There Be Light--my version of Greene and Greene Culbertson House fixture

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Project by grace123 posted 02-08-2015 06:43 AM 1597 views 11 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is my version of a light fixture designed by the Greene Brothers for the Cordelia Culbertson House in Pasadena, California. The first picture is the completed fixture. The second picture is of the design sketch. This is located in the archives of University of Southern California.

There are severe substantial differences in my fixture and the exquisite classic designed by the Greenes. I hope they forgive me and accept the idea that I loved their design and wanted to attempt to recreate it. The original fixture is made of mahogany. Mine is made of Douglas Fir. I was not sure I could pull it off, so I went with inexpensive wood. Additionally, I do not have easy access to art glass. So I made my panels of Plexiglass covered with vellum. Also, the original fixture is suspended from the ceiling with leather straps. The house my lamp now resides in has a low ceiling and I had to resort to a short chain to allow people to walk underneath it.

The first thing I did to build this fixture was to mill Douglas Fir 2×6 into 3/4-inch thick pieces. Then I made the panels with half lap joints. I cut the “cloud lifts” with a band saw, then sanded the panels. I made small mortises for square ebony pegs.

After that came the glue up. I started with taping the panels together, and then I placed clamps.

Here is the fixture out of the clamps.

I used dye, gel stain and shellac to get a look that I liked.

After that I did a test fit of the Plexiglass and vellum panels. In this picture you can also see the nuts I used to hold the bottom of the fixture in place. For ease of changing light bulbs, I made the bottom panel removable by removing three nuts.

The final step was to hang the fixture in this 110 year old house.

10 comments so far

View siavosh's profile


674 posts in 1295 days

#1 posted 02-08-2015 08:10 AM

Woah, that’s a stunner. Great job.

-- -- Discover the most interesting woodworking blogs from around the world

View SPalm's profile


5249 posts in 3306 days

#2 posted 02-08-2015 11:22 AM

That is really nice. Lots of neat details in there.

I love the pic of all the clamps.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Roger's profile


19714 posts in 2228 days

#3 posted 02-08-2015 02:00 PM

I like your design. Looks like a lamp from way back. Nicely done

-- Roger from KY. Work/Play/Travel Safe. Keep your dust collector fed.

View tyvekboy's profile


1311 posts in 2437 days

#4 posted 02-08-2015 02:26 PM

Good execution of a classic.

-- Tyvekboy -- Marietta, GA ………….. one can never be too organized

View nuttree's profile


279 posts in 2748 days

#5 posted 02-09-2015 01:27 AM

I think you did a great job. I build many A&C repro pieces and often times add my own touch to the design when I am able. Good work!

-- I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in. -John Muir

View HillbillyShooter's profile


5811 posts in 1716 days

#6 posted 02-09-2015 01:31 AM

Very nicely done.

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View changeoffocus's profile


457 posts in 1041 days

#7 posted 02-09-2015 01:41 AM

Very nice job, while this project appears t be a commission I could see these being a good project choice in a manageable size.

View Mean_Dean's profile


4948 posts in 2571 days

#8 posted 02-10-2015 01:16 AM

That’s a great looking light fixture! And it looks like you used every clamp in your shop on it!

-- Dean

View grace123's profile


194 posts in 2186 days

#9 posted 02-10-2015 04:21 AM

Thank you everyone for your comments. They make my day.

My husband bought me a few clamps for Christmas. And yes I perhaps did go overboard on my clamps. However, this was the second build and glue up of this fixture. On my first glue up I had a couple of clamps on and rotated it and it kind of twisted on itself and broke beyond repair on a miter/pagoda junction. So on the second build and glue up, I concentrated intently on placing a clamp, gently moving to the next segment. I didn’t realize how clamp crazy it was until I stepped back to see how it looked, and so I had to take a picture. But it certainly stayed glued very nicely.

View Bud_3's profile


663 posts in 648 days

#10 posted 02-14-2015 07:40 PM

I like the japanese aspect of it.

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