They have their ups and downs…
The word chandelier comes from Old French and means “candle-holder.” Long before electricity, a chandelier was one of the brightest sources of illumination possible, so naturally, we folks at Illuminations Lighting Design find them absolutely fascinating.
Designs have varied over the years but early ones were simply circular objects like a wagon wheel, or ship’s wheel with candles around the perimeter. In the beginning, crude brass or tin mirrors were added to send more light outwards.
Maybe someone dropped a crystal decanter and decided to display the broken bits of glass. However it happened, observant people discovered cut glass would focus small beams of light, and although duller, scatter it right to the darkest corners of the room. The crystal chandelier was born.
Piped coal gas was introduced. Permanent pipes fed ceiling mounted fixtures, and dripping candle wax was eliminated. Hurray for technology. Of course you needed metal shields to protect the ceiling from the open flames, but the amount of light was many times that of candles. Homes began to be bright.
Early light bulbs were no brighter than a common 25-40 watt incandescent of today, but (to their eyes) there was so much light pouring off such a small source that they worried about eye damage. More and more crystal was added to diffuse the light.
We eventually got used to “so much” light and the bulbs themselves could be seen again. Artists taking advantage of the flexibility of electric wiring started to create tree-like designs with many branches. Chandeliers became more and more ornate, but also became bigger and heavier.
Incandescent durability has never been very high, with most light bulbs lasting from 750-1000 hours. Imagine the inconvenience of a 64-bulb chandelier reaching its limits, and blowing a bulb or two every day for weeks.
Mounted 15 feet above the floor, someone would have to work their way in amongst all the arms, pendalogues, prisms, crystal chains, and candle tubes, while on a ladder, without breaking anything. It was a disaster in the making…
Getting a Lift
In most old pirate or western movies you’ll always see candle (or oil-light) chandeliers hung from the ceiling. What you may not see is the rope tied to a pinion on the wall so it can be raised or lowered to change candles, or fill lamps. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to raise or lower a chandelier like that?
Actually, you can. Our professional electricians have installed motorized chandelier lifts for years, but not a lot of people have heard about this equipment. Our teams regularly assemble and hang even the most complex and intricate owner-supplied chandeliers, supplemented with a motorized life system. You can read their stories about how pleased they were with the results here.
The system is installed out of sight in the attic space, so your guests will never know how easy you have made life for yourself!
The Real World
Of course modern lighting employs LED lighting, which eliminates the need to change lightbulbs, which is a great convenience. However, nothing stops the problems of accumulated dust and airborne contaminants from dulling the beauty of crystal over time.
In the old days a homeowner (or servant) might stand on a chair or ladder, take all the crystal bits down, carefully wash each piece in vinegar water, with a toothbrush, dry, polish, and then put them all back.
Nowadays we just bring the whole chandelier down to floor level, gather up the crystal, put them through the dishwasher, and they are once again pristine and ready to be mounted. Ah, modern technology! Have a look at some of our wonderful installations here.
There are magnificent fixtures which grace homes all over the state. If you want yours to have easy access for cleaning (or to change old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs) give us a call for a consultation. We’ll be more than happy to make your beautiful fixture a part of the 21st Century!
We are based in Houston, but service most of the state. ILD is your only “one-stop” solution in the whole state of Texas. We are here to handle all of your electrical needs.
Please feel free give us a call at 713-863-1133 or toll free at 800-863-1184, so you can learn more about all of our residential electrical services. You’ll find that you are anxious to begin your journey towards the ultimate combination of beauty and safety. C’mon and say “howdy”! We’re waiting to hear from you!