Maurice (Morry) Klapfish is not the only person in St. George who frequents the town transfer station in search of cast-offs that just might come in useful. But he’s probably one of the only ones who sees value in bent and broken lamps.
“Finding parts is the biggest challenge in repairing lamps,” Klapfish explains, holding up a floor lamp he recently scored off the metal pile. Most of the lamps people bring him for repair are old, sometimes antique, so while the electrical upgrades they require will involve new parts, the repair, Klapfish says, should still look in keeping with the age and style of the lamp. So the many component pieces of the battered old metal-pile lamp might be a valuable source of parts for a future repair.
New sockets, for example, can be inserted into old socket casings appropriate to the lamp. Likewise, missing screws need to be replaced by screws like the originals. Klapfish points to shelf upon shelf of his home workshop that are filled with boxes and boxes of lamp parts—all kinds of switches, glass shades, sconces, and ornamental pieces. “I rely very heavily on this collection of old stuff,” he says.
Although repairing lamps consumes more and more of his time these days, he started out making lamps rather than fixing them. “My wife, Anne, was always nosing around flea markets and antique shops for interesting furnishings and curiosities. [Anne Klapfish is the proprietor of Stonefish, a boutique located next to Village Ice Cream in Port Clyde.] One day she brought home an old surveyor’s tripod and asked if I could make it into a lamp. Then she brought home some duck pins and wanted me to make some lamps out of them.”
With a background in engineering, the electrical work was very easy for Klapfish, but the creative side of the work was unexpectedly satisfying. Soon Klapfish found himself on the prowl for other objects to re-purpose—mainly pieces of junk he would find during regular visits to Larry’s Second Hand Shop. Sometimes his creations took the form of whimsical characters such as one he called “Carmen Electra.” Others include “Ginger Rogers” and “Fred Astaire,” which are available from Lamp Revival.
“Making lamps is fun,” he says, “but repairing lamps can be a challenge—especially when you are trying to fix something that looks hopelessly destroyed.”
One of those apparently hopeless challenges that Klapfish took on recently was a wooden chandelier that had been dropped and smashed. The uniqueness of the piece meant that finding replacement parts wasn’t an option. “Sometimes you have to make the parts you need,” he says, pointing to a small metal shade he made to match others on the piece. Anne helped him by figuring out how to match the paint. Klapfish also had to find invisible ways to repair places where the wood had been broken.
Few people have lighting fixtures that require such extensive repairs, but “everyone has lamps that need repairs, “ says Klapfish. “Even THIS house has lamps that are in bad shape!” he adds with a rueful laugh. Old cords, sticky switches, and outdated wiring are safety hazards that in most cases can easily and cheaply be addressed. “Most repairs are nickel-and-dime stuff,” he notes.
A sign saying “Lamp Repair” hangs from a post outside the Klapfish home on Route 131, directly opposite St. George Realty in Tenants Harbor. Call 372-9998 for more information or visit Lamp Revival at lamprevival.com. —JW