Monday, January 19, 2009


There’s a funky glass chandelier hanging above my dining room table. It’s big, it’s bold, and – in my humble opinion, at least – it’s beautiful. We’ve had it for years, so the regular guests of the Prescott household rarely comment on it anymore. But whenever anybody new comes for dinner, you can bet your best knickers my chandelier will come up in the conversation.

You see, this is not your average chandelier, at least, not anymore. I’ve no idea how old it is, but I’m guessing it emerged from an Italian chandelier manufactory about fifty years ago as a respectable, somewhat nondescript light fixture, spending the first forty years of its life illuminating my Great Aunt Nelda’s dinner guests.

And then, one sad day, my Great Aunt Nelda passed away and my parents had to empty her apartment. The chandelier, lackluster with age, laced in disintegrating cobwebs and speckled with fly pooh, was destined for the dumpster when inspiration struck. I retrieved it, wrapped it in a faded, orange and brown tea towel featuring a 1965 calendar on a background of kittens in a basket, and lugged it home, my artistic streak all aglow.

I put it on the kitchen table, pulled on my pink rubber gloves, filled a bucket with warm, soapy water and carefully eradicated all traces of dust and insect depravity. While it dried, I found my glass paints, and then went to work, my enthusiasm growing as the forlorn old chandelier metamorphosed into a multicolored, wild and wacky luminary masterpiece. When my husband came home from work, he was initially a little undecided on the artistic merits of my creation, but soon saw the light. He rolled up his Ralph Lauren sleeves, found his toolkit and hung Great Aunt Nelda’s chandelier above the dining room table. Hooked up to the dimmer switch, its pink, yellow, turquoise, green, red, orange, blue were mesmerizing. I was rather proud of myself!

Needless to say, my mad chandelier doesn’t spark eruptions of applause from everyone who comes to dinner. But it invariably provokes some sort of response, be it a careful comment, a doubtful glance, or a full blown, wine spluttering, “Oh my God, where did you get that kitsch monstrosity from?”. However, most people seem to like it, as a matter of fact I’ve had several commissions from family and friends requesting similar chandeliers for their homes. I transformed a smaller one I found at a flea market for a girlfriend who lives in Ibiza and was ecstatic when it was featured in a famous Spanish magazine devoted to homes and interiors!

My Great Aunt Nelda is probably giggling in her grave because her revamped chandelier also found its way into my romantic comedy, “Mucho Caliente!”. When Gemma, the main character, relinquishes her cheating husband’s divorce settlement and moves to Ibiza, she decides to make a business out of transforming boring old chandeliers into objects of desire in an effort to become financially independent. I’m not sure she’ll make a lot of money out of it, but she’ll definitely have oodles of fun with glass paints, and (hopefully!) stay out of trouble when Latino superstar Emilio Caliente goes on tour.

So the next time you’re pottering around a flea market, keep your eyes skinned for old glass chandeliers. All you need are some glass paints, a couple of paintbrushes, brush cleaning fluid and some old rags. You can add sparkles, sequins, anything at all. It’s easy, inexpensive, ecologically correct, and it’s fun. Who knows, in these somber economic times, cheerfully customized, hand-painted chandeliers might even be a way of earning some extra money!

With love,
Francesca Prescott

"MUCHO CALIENTE! - Wish upon a Latino Superstar"
An effervescent romantic comedy
LASR: "Best Book" / NOR: "Reviewer Top Pick"


Linda Banche said...

Hi Francesca, we have two chandeliers at my house, both cut crystal because my husband likes crystal. Neither are as colorful as yours.

Francesca Prescott said...

Hi Linda! I love beautiful clear cut crystal chandeliers, they are just perfect the way they are. Nothing reflects the light like they do. This one wasn't crystal, and its reflecting skills were long gone, which is why I let loose with colour!It's given it a new lease of life.

Savanna Kougar said...

Francesca, I so love you. That's right up my artistic alley. Actually, I use fabric paint. beads, sequins, etc. to create lightbulb designs (old lightbulbs), along the lines of christmas decorations, or not. But I've wanted to use glass paint on them.
I'd would so enjoy re-doing an old, not valuable chandelier.
Yours is splendid!!!
One of my heroines in some dusty WIP made a living with her decorated lightbulbs.
OH! And I have ones decorated for Valentine's day too.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Francesca, I love your zany chandelier! And how super that your heroine Gemma is so creative - like her creator!