In business (post retirement....)

Pennsylvania couple brings unusual, handcrafted Lamps from the Attic to Belfast festival

Posted:  Monday, July 9, 2018 - 12:45pm

BELFAST — A Pennsylvania couple made their debut at the 23rd annual Arts in the Park event, which took place July 7-8 at Steamboat Landing.

More than 120 booths were set up at this year’s event, each belonging to an artist showing off their own personal brand of creativity, including Edna and Allen Danielson, of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania.

Owners of Lamps from the Attic, the Danielsons booth wasn’t filled with paintings, fabric, photos, or food, but with a collection of antiques and metal parts cobbled together to make one-of-a-kind light fixtures.

Although they now have hundreds of handmade light fixtures they’ve created and sold, just over six years ago Allen was a shop teacher browsing the web for some long-forgotten reason. It was during the search that he came upon a simple picture of a single pipe and light bulb that had been turned into a lamp that inspiration struck.

Allen said he realized, “I’m a shop teacher, I can make this.”

“So I made it, and it sat on my desk for a few months, and I thought... no sentimental value…. Ebay. Boom. Off it went. So one project becomes two, becomes five, now here we are six years and 1,800 lamps later, you see what we’ve evolved into,” he said gesturing at the wide array of examples surrounding him.

Allen said he retired from his role as a shop teacher three years ago, with the intention of creating lamps part-time, but soon part-time wasn’t enough.

“We were having trouble keeping up with the show schedule and the need for inventory. We were selling faster than we could produce….. So we just said, okay, let’s go for it - let’s just go for it,” he said.

As for how they pick which pieces have “lamp potential,” Allen said he and Edna start out each shopping trip “with an empty van and a full tank of gas and we have no idea what we’ll find by the end of the day. We do not have an agenda, we don’t seek out anything specific, we just look for anything that has lamp potential written all over it.”

The items are then brought home where they will sit on a shelf until Edna cleans them and they are pulled to be used in a piece. Allen said he picks items piece by piece that he thinks will work well together before it’s “MacGyver time,” aka when the lamps are put together.

“I call [that] the MacGyver phase, because [the lamps] are 25 percent art and 75 percent MacGyver,” he said.

Though he said it’s tough to put a number on the total time involved in making a single lamp given that the steps of a single process can stretch over time, Allen said that by the time everything is cleaned, selected, and the smaller parts made, the actual putting together phase can be relatively quick.

“[Edna] gets everything prepped before it comes over to me for the MacGyver phase. But once I have a complete design in mind and I’ve laid out all the things in place, I can put a lamp together in an hour. But it takes all of that extra work because I make the switches in advance,” he said.

For her part, Edna said the duo like traveling, and have been to craft shows in Georgia, Ohio, and Maine, and that they will be in Michigan later in the summer. Antiquing is a draw regardless of their locale.

The duo plans on “antiquing all the way down Route 1,” according to Edna.

Beyond traveling, Edna said she and Allen both: “love it when people see our lamps. Wherever [the lamps are placed], they just put smiles on their faces, because they remember Grandma at this, or Uncle Joe at whatever, because it just brings back the memories and that’s what they like.”

See additional photos from Arts in the Park here and here

Erica Thoms can be reached at