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Railroadware: Light Fixtures from Upcycling Track – San Francisco Chronicle


Upcycling has such a hold on the decor world these days that we wonder if there’s anything that can’t be re-envisioned as a home accessory.

In Chico, for example, architect Tim Leefeldt has turned a fixation on relics of western expansion and the early telecommunications industry into a second career creating decorative fixtures.

Glass insulators, railroad castoffs and old traffic light lenses are transformed into colorful pendant lights, candle holders, rustic hooks, cabinet pulls and racks for his Railroadware line.

Once ubiquitous, glass insulators were originally designed in the 1850s to protect wires on telegraph lines, and later on telephone and power lines. Leefeldt, 52, used them as target practice during his summers in Nevada in the late 1970s, but it wasn’t until he came across a Hemingray glass insulator at an Oroville antiques store four years ago that inspiration struck.

“I wanted to explore its use as a light,” he says. But it took a lot of drilling to make it work. He had to try different drill bits to find one that would penetrate the thick glass without shattering it…

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