Turkish Lantern Makeover in the India Apartment

Next time we’re in India, I’ll do a better job of capturing the little moments. Like the moment when we took glass sconces from HomeGoods to a lighting shop in Chennai. There’s a whole row of lighting shops in a neighborhood not far from our apartment. Most shops look the same, so you take your pick, like eenie-meenie-miney-mo. So which to choose? Our taste is a little … different. Who could deal with it? (Because, honestly, most people there argue that we shouldn’t do what we want to do.) In a flash moment, my husband noticed what looked like garden ornaments transformed into lighting, and asked our driver to stop. A place with the vision to turn garden urns into pendant lights — we should get along with them!

And we did. The shop owner doodled a drawing on paper as we talked with him, turning what we saw in our heads into a real picture. He was spot on. That moment when you can share your vision with someone and they get it, it’s always fun! I wish I’d photographed that! Or asked for the drawing. Next time …

It’s hard to see what caught our eye here, but I assure you there’s interesting stuff in this shop:

Lighting Shop in Chennai

We needed backplates to turn Turkish style glass globes into sconces, and attach them to the wall. But the plates were gold, and we needed silver, and we liked the guy, and we wanted to work with him, so I figured I’d use paint to turn the gold here into silver:

Gold Needs to Be Silver

Then began the treasure hunt.

At home in the U.S., I just go to the basement for paint needed. It’s like a whole shop in my house. Or anything I want from craft stores to specialty art stores are all very accessible. There’s even an Annie Sloan stockist nearby. But in Chennai, I don’t know where to go! So we started the hunt at our local Asian Paints store:

Asian Paints

They know us well. I was there nearly daily buying sample pots. Including metallic paints. But they said no, out of the whole entire store, they do not have this silver paint to sell to us. They said, you need automotive paint. Automotive paint? Where do we find automotive paint? Or … a craft store paint, they said. Craft store? Well I know my way around those. But it’s not like there’s a Michaels in Chennai.

Oh, but I hadn’t found Tina Arts and Crafts yet! Thankfully they are online and that’s how I found them. Because we know no one in Chennai (yet!) who does DIY or crafty stuff. You just hire someone to do whatever you need there.

Here’s the place that made me very happy — they had paints to solve all my problems!

Tina Art and Craft Shop in Chennai

I had run out of Modern Masters Antique Copper metallic paint for a project that was half-done. I needed to match the copper. Exact match. A mismatch would forever bug my eyes. (And believe me, I feel I should note that I fully realize this kind of problem in India is privilege and silly.) The Tina shop hooked me up with acrylic paint tubes in metallic bronze and metallic red to mix until I made a perfect match to the metallic Antique Copper! Can you believe? Woo hoo!

Metallic Copper Mix

But wait there’s more.

They looked at my gold metal sconce plates and suggested mixing silver powder with picture frame varnish to make a silver paint. I hadn’t ever done that before, so wasn’t sure, but it worked. It worked!

Silver Powder and Picture Frame Varnish

Varnishing Metal

It took some doing. At first the silver was too new, too blue and too shiny. Not “just right.”

Transforming Sconces

So I smeared some light copper metallic paint over the silver to warm it up a bit.

Warming Up Silver Paint

Here you can see the sconce on the left is a little warmer color:

Warming Up Silver Paint with Copper

Then I smeared some black to make it look antiqued. I mixed the black paint with water so it wasn’t too thick, it was more of a wash. See the difference in the sconce on the left:

Antiqued with Black Paint Wash

It was a pretty close match to the original silver metal on my glass globes. Here’s the final result. Ta-da!

Finished Sconce

I was working on deadline because our electrician was on his way. Thankfully the picture frame varnish mixture dried super fast. Once turned over to the electrician’s hands, the sconces were installed on the master bedroom wall:

Master Bedroom Sconces

I will be stenciling between the sconces. Here, what I expected to be warm gray paint turned lavender on the wall:

Master Bedroom Stenciling

So I changed plans and the base coat is now Silk Route from Asian Paints:

Master Bedroom

First base coat only! This is going to get far more interesting. And that’s where I had to leave things. We had a flight to catch. Until next time …


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2 Replies to “Turkish Lantern Makeover in the India Apartment”

  1. Oh Deb,
    I so enjoy watching as you get your flat in India put together! Thanks so much for letting all of us be part of your adventure.

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