A Frederick man builds lamps out of black iron pipes and other unique items, including antique water gauges.
John Morton began making the lamps about six months ago in a shop behind his house, calling his business Ironlight. Originally he said it was two words, but his wife told him to make it one word so he did.
“I first wrote it down as two words,” Morton said, “and Markey said that needs to be one word. That’s how the name came to be.”
When it comes to designing the lamps, he said that the employees at Ace Hardware have been extremely helpful by letting him use an old table in the back of the store to lay out the pieces and work out his designs so he can see what will work and what won’t. This prevents him from buying things that he will have to return later.
Morton said he’s had the idea of making these lamps rolling around his brain for 10 years. He got the idea when he saw lamps online made from iron pipes.
“Back when I lived in Virginia, I first saw some lamps made from iron pipes and I thought that that was something I could probably do, given time and a place,” Morton said. “Eventually I got the shop, but I never built any iron pipe lights while I was in Virginia. It was 10 years between the time I first saw the iron pipe lights and the time I began making them.”
Morton began seeing the lamps more frequently on sites like YouTube and Etsy, which brought the idea of making them back to the forefront of his mind.
“The people on YouTube and Etsy are calling them Steampunk lamps,” Morton said. “Steampunk is pretty far to the left. They’re pretty wild. They’ve got all kind of stuff on them and they get very intricate. Some of those lights are thousands of dollars. I’d love to build something like that but there just isn’t a market for that here. So I took the idea and stripped all that stuff out of it and came up with something very simplistic compared to what Steampunk really is.”
Morton said his favorite thing about creating his lamps is the creativity. He uses black iron pipes to make the lamps, along with other unique items including antique water gauges, pressure gauges and he also only uses Edison brand light bulbs in the lamps.
“There’s not much of a limit to creativity,” Morton said. “Whatever you can come up with, you can build. Whether it’s small, medium, large, or $20 or $2,000 — you can do whatever you want.”
So far, Morton has created lamps that ranged from $45 to $395.
“The price depends on the parts used. This part,” Morton said, pointing at an antique water gauge, “cost me three figures on eBay, so this lamp was my most expensive.”
That creation was one of about 24 lamps that Morton took to the oyster fry. It was sold almost before the oyster fry began. He came home with six lamps left, and several orders. Morton takes custom orders, within reason. He also has a book of pictures of the lamps he’s made so people can choose a design from there. He also allows people to do payment plans if they opt for one of the more expensive lamps.
For more information, contact John Morton at Jmmorton@verizon.net.
Reach Kathleen Guill at 580-379-0588, ext. 2602.