Maurice Klapfish is the person behind Lamp Revival, creator of quaint lamps which are crafted from recycled parts like pipe fittings, Victorian lamp shades, recycled lamps, electric boxes and even a surveyors tripod! He uses his technical background to design and put together these lamps using innovative techniques.

His lamps have an old charm beauty to them and some of them feel like glowing sculptures. The best thing about these lamps is that each of them is unique and even if you got enamored to one of his designs that has sold out, he might not be able to create a replica as the same recycled parts may or may not be available.

We had a chance to talk to Maurice and find out more about his passion for creating  these "Artful" lamps. Check out the interview below:

Maurice, tell us something about yourself.

Not in a million years could anyone have imagined that my path would lead to creating quirky recycled lamps in a lobstering village near Rockland, Maine. Who could have guessed?

With an electrical engineering degree and an MBA from the University of Michigan and MIT, my 30 year professional career in the Boston area focused on marketing research and consulting in the high-tech industries, including computers, telecommunications and industrial automation. Soon after my only child’s college graduation, a change became possible.

Ten years ago, my wife and I relocated to Midcoast Maine to experience a totally different kind of small town lifestyle in a fishing village. As so often seen, coastal fishing communities nurture and attract artists, craftsmen and wannabes. Around here, it seems that everyone is an “artist.”  Except me. I have no painting skills, no training and very little knowledge of craft techniques. But these artisans have made me aware of my desire to be creative. Maybe not great art in the local tradition of Andrew and Jamie Wyeth, but my quirky lamps certainly are inventive, I think.

What inspired you to create lamps from discarded electrical hardware and pipe fittings?

My route to creating whimsical recycled lamps was, in fact, quite unintentional.  My wife operates an antique shop and gallery. (www.stonefishportclyde.com ) From flea markets, yard sales and junk shops, she often brought home distressed lamps and unusual objects. She often asked, “Could you make a lamp out of this?” Those requests resulted in lamps I made from a tripod, from bowling pins and from a miniature torpedo, to mention a few. While expanding my knowledge of lamp construction and building an inventory of replacement parts, I also began to expand my lamp repair business.

Now, you can begin to see the progression toward building quirky lamps. I too began searching for discarded objects that would make funky lamps, as well as trashed old lamps that provided useful parts, such as glass shades, lamp bases, arms and electrical hardware.

Lamp repair and construction of lamps from found objects had been the primary motivation for scavengering and hording electrical junk. But then I began to wonder what could I make from all this stuff? Trivets? Candleholders? Magazine racks? Wine bottle racks? I rejected this kind of stuff as silly, boring and unimaginative.

How about a person, I wondered, and Carmen Electra emerged to much acclaim. Best of all, I sold her for an amazing $360. That encouraged me to build Libra Electra, Babe Electra and numerous follow-ups. (www.lamprevival.com)

Libra Electra

Babe Electra

What are the factors that influence your designs?

While I am at no loss for exciting lamp ideas, parts and possibility constantly challenge my creativity. As an example of parts limitations, my desire to build a soaring bird lamp is on hold until I find just the right parts to use for the wings, I’ll keep looking.

Real world possibility is my other design influence. Structural integrity and cramming all the bulbs, switches, sockets and wires into tiny spaces strongly impacts project selection. I have discarded or postponed many good ideas because they appear impossible to implement. A peculiar design influence unique to my craft is the absolute requirement for replacing burned out bulbs, sometimes challenging but always possible.

What other assorted materials do you use in your lamp designs?

Although I try to reuse discarded lamp parts and electrical hardware wherever possible, the reuse of old electric parts in active electric circuits is both a reliability problem and a safety hazard. For these reasons, I use new bulbs, sockets, switches, cords and plugs. Because of the unavailability of salvaged pipe fittings, I am forced to purchase new pipe fittings.

And occasionally, fabricating simple sheet metal and Plexiglas parts has been necessary, such as socket holding brackets, spacers, windows, bulb clips, etc. I’ll also begin using a little bit of paint in a few future designs.


Lady Marmalade

Do you also design your lamps based on specific details given by a client? 

My website proclaims my willingness to build custom lamps, but so far no one has inquired. I would love to build lamps from customers’ treasured objects, but no takers yet. I think my French horn lamp is a good example of what could be expected (http://www.lamprevival.com/object-lamps.html ). I’ll keep hoping for the opportunity.

French Horn

We noticed that, you are not selling your ingenious lamps directly on your website. Is there are specific reason behind it, or do you prefer it this way?

Actually, the semi-custom nature of my lamp business and packing/shipping issues preclude online ordering. While a few of the lamps are complete and available immediately, most items are offered as not quite exact equivalents built to order. In these cases, my standard procedure is to assemble an equivalent prototype and send photographs for customer approval before finishing the lamp. You can’t do this by online ordering.

Another preclusion is the nightmarish packing for safe shipment, which needs to be worked out depending on the customer’s urgency, location and budget.

Apart from designing custom lamps what other activities do you enjoy?  Share with us that one book/movie/song that always inspires or motivates you.

My biggest passion is sea kayaking through the scenic islands off the coast of the gorgeous Midcoast Maine region. I am also a somewhat active amateur photographer, with my images shown at several local art shows and galleries. Without question, my most commercially successful photographic work has been Photoshop manipulations of local scenery. Carpentry, home renovation and landscaping are other activities I enjoy.

There have been lots of inspirational movies and songs, but the most influential thing that I can recall was actually a TV show that I watched when I was in grade school. Some may remember “Watch Mr. Wizard,” which ran from 1951 to 1965. How gasoline engines work can be seen in the video below. It was a pre-computer era science show in which Don Herbert demonstrated how things work and explained the science and technology behind them. Without question this program strongly influenced my interest in science and technology, which was to become the foundation of my career, hobbies and, now, lamp building enterprise.

What are the future plans for Lamp Revival? Are there any killer designs that you are working on?

Lamp Revival’s future plans will certainly focus on a broader market reach. Three months ago I put up my website, and am now looking to broaden its audience. However, my free $100 voucher for a Google Adwords trial proved disastrous.  Burning the $100 voucher in two weeks, I got a couple hundred visits, but not a single direct inquiry. Definitely not worth the extremely high cost, I have concluded. While word of mouth awareness and display in one local gallery has been quite effective, I also need to get my lamps placed in additional shops and galleries to really grow my business.

Regarding lamp offerings, you can expect more of the same kind of product. However they are becoming more sophisticated as I invent clever new ways assemble them. If there are to be any killer designs, they will result from unusual found parts. I have several incredible salvaged pieces, but so far I haven’t yet invented worthy lamps for them.

Ruler Lamp

What according to you are the most desirable traits in a successful entrepreneur?

The single most desirable trait is recognizing the importance of marketing and promotion. The world’s greatest whatever will never sell if potential customers are unaware that it exists. It’s easy to become enamored by our wonderful creations, but we seem unwilling to recognize that proper marketing and promotion can easily take as much time as product creation.

Any advice for our readers?

Yes. The product or service must be extraordinary. The shops and websites are overloaded with mediocrity. There is little chance of success with anything less than amazing, incredible, unbelievable and dozens of other overused superlatives. The alternative to selling something special is to compete on price, but that’s not a good entrepreneurial strategy. Truly unique has to be the keyword.

Thank you Maurice for taking the time for this interview, we are a big fan of your funky lamps. :) Wish you the very best for the future. 

Check out Lamp Revival's website.
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1 Response to 'Seller Of The Week: Maurice Klapfish From 'Lamp Revival' Creating Whimsical and Quaint Lamps Using Recycled Parts'

  1. Jean Paldan Said,
    https://e-junkieinfo.blogspot.com/2012/02/seller-of-week-maurice-klapfish-from.html?showComment=1328874495483#c6713917211919172218'> February 10, 2012 at 4:48 AM

    I loveeeee these lamps! Amazing amazing amazing.


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