Thursday, March 7, 2013

Vintage Seashell TV Lamp

Good morning!

It's almost Friday! IT IS ALMOST FRIDAY. 

Today I thought I would share with you guys something I picked up at the flea market in February. And ain't it a pip! I brought this home and set it on the kitchen table, and there it has stayed for the last two weeks. I like looking at the thing too much to find it a proper place in the menagerie that passes for my home decorations! Take a gander:


You might remember from my video blog of the den how much I love vintage sea life kitsch...well, when I was in whatever the shed in front of the Hog Barn at the fairgrounds is called, this little dandy cried out to me from a seller's card table setup. The following conversation ensued.

1: How much do you want for this?
2: Fifteen. I'd take fifteen for it.
1: Ok, ok... [holding the lamp, appraisingly]
2: And it works, too. It's a....[takes lamp in hand] it's just a little nightlight back here, and then you plug it in. Don't have any kind of on or off switch, it's just either plugged in or it isn't. Only thing can get broke on it is the bulb, and you can find them anywhere.
1: [continues turning it over; no chips, no cracks]
2: You can try it out if you want.
1: Nah, I'll take your word for it. I think I'm gonna have to get this. [fishes for dollars in pocketbook] There we go. This is really cool.
2: Picked this up in Florida last time I was down there. It's a nice lamp.
1: Now I can tell people I was in Florida! [struggling to put lamp in tote] I would buy the heaviest thing first off, and now I have to carry it all over the dang place. [trudges off with awkwardly packed tote bag and a fare thee well to the seller]



So I should have dickered over the price, sue me. Do you ever get that weird fealty-to-a-seller-you-buy-from-a-lot thing where you appreciate them not harassing you about buying stuff, or having that weird hard edge that most sellers have when they're aggressively hawking their items, that you don't mind paying whatever the first quoted price is? That's where I was. More money than sense, as my mother always tells me, but hey.

This guy is the real star of the tableau. I don't think the flea market curb appeal of the lamp would have been half what it was without this ceramic sea horse. A real seahorse would have totally grossed me out-- have you seen those weird, dessicated remains of sea life pasted to other shells that passes for souvenir stuff in the cheaper Florida tourist traps? I love any and all kitsch, but those things are diiiiisgusting.


Here's the lamp by night! See how cool the whole thing looks lit up. It looks strangely foreboding, but in exactly the way I like.


Obligatory shots of me examining my find...note the double-conch shell composition! The symmetry achieved by placing the one shell in the middle, and the others to either side of it! I had actually put a strict "no-buy" policy on statuettes, figurines, vases, ceramic statues, and any other figural tchotckes, as the house is literally overflowing with "That McCoy planter I couldn't leave behind" or "that one felt, bendable Christmas elf I got at the last minute for practically nothing", but come on! I really need this in my life!

Ask 'em a couple questions, see if it's hundred proof...
"What's that, seashell TV lamp? No, you're the greatest. No, I love YOU more! Stop it, you're embarrassing me!"
It was well nigh impossible to find any information about this or lamps like it online, because the internet was so busy trying to sell me another one! And boy, aren't some of these tempting. Check it out:

Combining both tropical and Oriental influencehere's are two Asian figures with a rickshaw hurtling across a grotto formed by a large, pearlescent shell. I know certains of Orientalia collectibles are offensive, but this one seems innocuous enough and pretty, look at the way the backdrop lights up!

I  hate to save the best for first, but are you seeing this deer in a weird, pink and green light up shell diorama? I now have all sorts of ideas about changing out the white nightlight for a color nightlight, and putting an iguana or maybe a person somewhere in the scene of my own seashell lamp. THIS IS INSANE, AND I LOVE IT.

A disturbing number of these sea shell tv lamps had crucifixes in it, but this one is by far the most picturesque.   I wish the seller had included what it looked like lit up! You know that mess is off the charts! Note the prehistoric look of the central shell used and the back of the lamp.

This elf looks so coquettish! See his drawn up leg and the body language, saying "Who? Me? Meeeee?" I love his piquant expression and the fact that nothing in the diorama is done to scale (I'm as big as a palm tree, do you hear?! Bigger!).

Vintage Seashell Lamp Queen Conch TV Lamp Tropical Kitsch 50s
My seahorse beats this flamingo, but E for effort, and a special shout out for how many different shells are used in this one.

More religious imagery, this one with shells that look like wings flanking the son of God. Can't you just see this sitting on the console tv at one of your great-aunts houses?

I didn't think much about this one, but then it lit up....the blue! How undersea! How pretty!

Well, these lamps have officially given me a yen to get back to the beach sometime very soon. I kind of want to make my own one of these, with Mars Attack martians and whatever other figurines I can assemble into a bizarre half sea life, half dream life composition. We'll see how inspired I get!

What about you? Which one of these lamps would you want to take home from vacation? Have any wild and completely inexplicable souvenir purchases hanging around your living room or your grandparents' house? What would you assemble in your ideal tv-lamp set-up? Tell, tell!

That's all for today-- see you kiddlings tomorrow for Photo Friday! Til then.

19 comments:

  1. AHHH! These are fantastic! As far as favorite, I'm torn between the rickshaw and that cute little elf. So hard to choose! Great find, Lisa!

    This reminds me of our family vacation to Florida where almost every shop we went to mostly sold items that were either plastered with or made entirely out of seashells.

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    1. Remember how weird those places smelled because of all the little crustacean bodies in one place? UUUUggggh. Also: "I touched voodoo like ten times today! You touch it! You touch the voodoo!"

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  2. What a pretty lamp! It's amazing how important accessories were back then.

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    1. I know, I was so happy to find it! And it is funny to think about how people in the fifties' might have *one* crazy accessory like this in an otherwise staid or understated household decoration scheme. I have way too many! :)

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  3. I had a seashell lamp as my nightlight growing up -- I still have it (though the cord is gone)!

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    1. Oh neat! I bet you could find a little lightbulb on a cord type set up at Michael's or Joann's to re-electrify it... that's all there is to mine. Aren't they just the most whimsical things?

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  4. Awww, CUTE!! Love your little seahorse, and the deer one is fabulous!

    I had a vintage shell lamp which I gave to my dad for his birthday; it's got hot pink coral and a chorus line of plastic swordfish. To this day, I selfishly regret giving it away, ha!

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    1. Haha, a CHORUS LINE of swordfish, you say! (I actually die of envy) I love the collector's instinct of feeling remorse for giving away something totally awesome (even as a gift!). Still, it's good to share the vintage love!

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  5. oh my god. I bet you cant wait to tell people that you've been to florida

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  6. also...jesus never looked more at home than when placed in a giant seashell.

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  7. Predictably, I love it! And it could only be made better with the addition of an iguana.

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    1. I just love TABLEAUX, you know? Adding your own weirdo-strangeo twist to an extant piece of kitsch...too much fun! :)

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  8. Haha WOW. My friend's mom used to make these things, but she never mixed in religious iconography. These are blowing my mind.

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    1. I couldn't believe the ones I found on ebay! I'm glad I already have the one, so I would feel bad about hoarding another ten of them, but honestly, I would love hoard any and all of these! Especially the deer one. LORD.

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  9. I've collected a few of these, but gave them all to my brother when he bought a house. I don't think any of them were as cool as those you found though...

    RE: TV lamps, I have several. My most recent is a ceramic owl whose eyes light up. I also have a light-up globe which is probably my favorite.

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    1. A lightup globe! TV lamps are the living end. I have one in the den that's just a clock with two torchiere type things on either end, and super atomic-looking, but I have pined over so many over the years! That ceramic owl sounds like a neat one, too.

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  10. i love those lamps. i've been tempted to buy one at the flea market before. i like the ones with flamingos, though the crucified jesus ones are pretty amazing.

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    1. Why is He there, right?! Why is He there! I want that deer one so bad I might make an offer on it. These things are so nuts!

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