Whenever craftsman Guery Guzman shops for materials, his imagination races: Is there potential in that old metal gas pump nozzle in a pile of junk at the flea market? (Yes, tons.) What could be done with the cast-iron lamp covered in cobwebs in the corner of the antique shop? (Return it to its former glory.) What about that tattered pulley hanging from the barn rafters? (Turn it into a lamp.)
Guzman has been collecting and restoring antiques for years, and a few years ago, he tried his hand at repurposing the ones that couldn’t be saved entirely. It pained him to see an old wooden dolly collect dust in a flea market or a child’s wagon decay in the weather, when it was clear to him how many hours of labor a fellow craftsman had put into it.
And while Guzman creates all sorts of furniture and home accessories for his Antiques Plus A Twist business, it’s his lamps that really turn his customers on.
With just a bit of electrical outfitting (a skill Guzman learned from his extremely handy grandfather, an airplane body fabricator who also made custom orthopedic devices, among other things) and some light bulbs, Guzman can transform a slatted wooden produce box into a pendant lamp, or an old farm-weathered yoke into a chandelier. He’s combined a wooden coat rack, wrought-iron bracket, and bulbous old Jack Daniels bottle into a single floor lamp. He’s made lamps from ukuleles, toy violins, surveyors’ tripods, sprinkler spigots, and so much more, always attempting to maintain the integrity of the original piece.
“You have to look at things from different angles, from different perspectives, or else you don’t find the beauty in it,” he says.
Guzman’s able to tease humor out of some items, too: That old gas-pump nozzle? He threaded some wire through it and affixed a bulb to the end so that bright light—rather than gasoline—drips out. Recently, he came across an old blow torch, intact but not working, and is thinking about how he might use electricity to evoke the narrow blue flame of a functional torch.
“The reason why I like lights more than furniture or other things,” says Guzman, “is because I know how lights affect life, mood.” Looking to add warmth? Try a lamp. Some history? A lamp can do that, too. Nostalgia? Visual interest? A little absurdity? An art piece? Lamps can do it all. They can transform a space in the way that a new coat of paint, or a new set of furniture, can, but via a lot less effort and money.
Guzman hopes that his lamps will inspire people to try their own hand at repurposing, whether it’s with found items or family heirlooms. It’s a wonderful way to move through life, he says, seeking the potential beauty and artfulness in everything, in part because it sheds light on more than just living room walls. “You can truly turn nothing into something.”