Finally, something accomplished and not just thought about! I have long admired the vintage milk glass lamps popular in Japan from the early part of the 20th century through the post-WW II era, with their peak of production and design from the 1920s-1940s.  While quite similar to their counterparts in America and Europe, the Japanese fixtures have extra details that you don’t find elsewhere, meant to approximate earlier lamps with metal mounts. The added charm of the Asian motifs make these glass lamps particularly collectible and as they are rarely seen outside of Japan, a unique addition to one’s decor.

I have a small open bottom fixture hanging in my guest room here in Tokyo as a reading lamp, since there is not really room for a proper night table. I would also like to find one for the ceiling in my newly renovated bathroom at our beach house in New Jersey, albeit much larger.

These open bottom hanging glass shades are the most common, adorned with metal, plastic or bamboo detailing…


or sometimes frosted insets, raised molded glass patterns or a combination of any and all of the above.

Less common, but still frequently seen are the closed variety, particularly this globular shape, often embellished with a hanging tassel.

Here’s another charming example.

A specialized dealer at the Antique Jamboree had an incredible collection of globe fixtures. There is a special summer Jamboree this year from July 22-24. See the “Shrine Sale” tab at the top of the blog for more details.

Even more spectacular and unusual were these porcelain sockets and fittings. I had occasionally seen the white ones, but never before the blue and white. They seem like the kind of perfect antique detail designer Michael Smith would add to an interior project.

In addition to fixtures that hang from cords, there are also some that have a stiff metal bar. A pair of these would look perfect hanging over a kitchen island.

I debated about buying this unusual long shaped fixture. It had a nautical feel that might have been right for the beach house bathroom, but seemed too long and narrow for the space.

I loved this pair of sconces but couldn’t think of a place to put them

I never did make it back to the fantastic shop The Teardrop Club…

…or Rakuda in Nishi-Ogikubo.

In the end, I decided the detailing on the fixtures was at odds with the simplicity of the bathroom. I also had the realization that the low ceiling might not accommodate a hanging fixture. Luckily, the glass globes can also have fixed ceiling mounts.  I thought about giving up and just buying a new fixture, but in my heart I wanted the vintage charm of an older fixture (even with the hassles of re-wiring) versus a sparkling brand new one from the excellent reproduction companies like Schoolhouse Electric Co. or even the mainstream home catalogs. The answer, I decided, was a simpler more “schoolhouse” shape with a ceiling mount.

So the winner came from Kanarusha Antiques. They had long been holding another glass shade for me, waiting on finding the proper vintage fittings. So often the glass globes are available, but not the lamp socket attachments, and I didn’t want to count on anything in the US actually being the proper size. I was never sure the other shade was perfect – it seemed too small and insignificant -so last Friday I stopped by and they had this beauty!  I dug through a crate of vintage socket fittings they had just received, found this well patinated metal ceiling fitting and married it to the shade. Perfect!

A dear friend sent me this photo of a tenugui she had purchased just before leaving Japan last year. Tenugui are thin cotton towels, usually a standard size, printed with absolutely anything and used for just about everything. They probably deserve a post of their own!  I had never seen this one and got a great laugh from it. She has framed it and some others for a unique art display. Make sure to note the discontinued Lee Jofa fabric covering the chairs that we tracked down from an old 2003 issue of House Beautiful.

The lamp photos were taken over the course of the year at numerous shrine sales and different antique shows, illustrating their high level of availabilty. Keep your eyes open!

Antique Teardrop