Edith Wharton once said ““There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” Bobbie Wilinski has found a third way: turning ordinary objects into uniquely crafted lamps.
Bobbie first had the idea of making lamps when she realized that her hobby of collecting old tools had gotten a bit out of hand. ”I realized I was no longer collecting, I was just accumulating,” she says. And so she decided to repurpose some of those wonderful old pieces into one-of-a-kind lamps.
But the road from idea to creation was not without its difficulties. “My first attempt was a dismal failure,” Bobbie recalls. “I tried to drill a hole into an old lunch box and it caved.” But she didn’t give up. “After that I tried funnel shaped objects. Funnels are much easier to turn into lamps than most other materials.”
Bobbie quickly moved from funnels to many other items—cameras, books, musical instruments, teapots, and even vintage sewing machines to name a few. And now, no matter the material, if she can drill a hole in it, she can create a lamp from it.
“I have an overactive imagination,” she says. “I sometimes dream about designs and then wake up and make them.” Her dreams don’t always translate easily into realities though. Sometimes it takes a little figuring and manipulating. “I’m a problem solver,” Bobbie says. “I like to figure out how to make things work.”
One of her greatest joys is to preserve family heirlooms. She turns unlikely objects into useful pieces – wonderful ways to make antiques and collectables useful.
Jim Zweigler, a local wood crafter, fashions lamp bases for Bobbie’s creations. He uses local, reclaimed wood, making her lamps even more unique. She has other trademarks that make her works unique. For example, she uses old fashioned cloth-wrapped electrical cords, vintage bulbs, and she always makes sure the fixtures match the rest of the lamp –even painting them if she needs to.
Bobbie’s Barn is full of light, and she loves to share her craft and her stories. Each style of lamp is unique and has its own name depending on the material it’s made from. For example: a sprocket lamp becomes “Sprocket Man,” axe heads turn into “Ax me no questions,” and a silver stiletto-heeled shoe transforms into Tina Turner.
Bobbie has been making lamps for eight years, and she has a lot to show for her labors. She has about 400 lamps in her inventory at present, and she is always adding new creations to the list.
You can see Bobbie and a sampling of her work at the Timberville Winter Festival on Saturday, December 10th (12 pm – 6 pm) and Sunday, December 11th (1 pm – 5 pm) at the American Legion Park.