The Mother gets a lot of play round these parts, mainly because her interests align with mine so well. But any creativity I may have comes from both of my parents. The Father definitely has a creative streak, which sometimes brings out his inner engineer in bizarre ways.
For instance, what makes this lamp sparkle in the "after" photo?
None other than automotive engine paint. You might think it's just for jazzing up the V8, but not the Father. When he saw the under-$10 lamp the Mother had found for me at a junk shop, he knew it needed a paint job (that was obvious), but he also knew regular spray paint wouldn't stand up to the heat of the bulbs sizzling in metal shades. Ugly as the "before" version was, I didn't think there was any way to keep the detail of it—the lamp had three colours, including one metallic, and that sounded like a royal pain to repaint. But the Father disassembled the whole thing, sandblasted the hell out of each part (or maybe sanded them? At any rate, each piece was smooth as new), primed everything, and then sprayed each piece individually in one of three colours of engine paint. For the silver metallic, he even taped off rings in the center bit of the neck (where the three arms meet) to do detail work that not only replicated the original colour scheme but also added new detail! I couldn't believe it. If you look closely, you can catch lamps just like this (sometimes with different shades) on TV-show sets or at flea markets, but I've never seen one look this good, especially considering the deal we got on it (we probably spent more on paint than on the actual lamp!).
In the same vein, the Father was also responsible for repairing this lamp from an antique mall in Ohio. See how the base lights up as well as the shade?
We only discovered that it did this after buying it, but the base wasn't working. So the Father disassembled the whole thing again and determined that it must be a three-way socket running the show. He eventually figured out how to jury-rig a new socket—I distinctly remember him snapping off bits of it in mad scientist fashion—so the switch would turn on the base, the shade, or both in sequence. I don't know how he did it, but it's pretty impressive. And he was giddily impressed with his own handiwork, as I recall.
Happy birthday, the Father! You're the greatest.
PS—I'll stop bragging about my family now. I promise.