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Yard sale finds turned into lighted treasures

June 07, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

by Kevin G. Gilbert / staff photographer

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Ken Kendle

Air Force retiree Albert "Ken" Kendle Jr., 67, of Hagerstown, likes to tinker in his garage workshop in his spare time. As a result, he literally brings light into other people's lives.

For Kendle, it's true that one man's trash is another's treasure. He makes lamps out of just about anything from parts he gets at yard sales and flea markets.

"I do it to stay out of trouble," Kendle said of his hobby.

It all started one day a year and a half ago, when he and his wife Beverly were at a yard sale. Kendle said his wife saw a lamp made out of a fruit jar.

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"She said she liked it, and I told her 'I can do that, why pay $16 or $18 for it?'" Kendle said.

He made that lamp, and one thing led to another.

"I progressed to old canning jars with zinc lids, to jugs and then to meat grinders and old lanterns that I electrified," Kendle said.

He found out his imagination's the limit. He's made a couple of lamps out of Hunt's Centennial glass ketchup bottles, for example. And he crows about the lamp he made from a large ceramic rooster. It stands proudly in his wife's downstairs "chicken room." His wife collects the critters.

"I even made a lamp out of a two-slice toaster," Kendle said.

Like most of his unique lamps, Kendle gave that one away. He said they go to family and friends. Beverly sometimes decorates the shades and the insides of the lamps her husband makes, personalizing them.

"I've made four or five for my grandchildren," Beverly said. For example, a Pocahontas theme lamp had felt "water," a canoe, a Pocahontas doll and a raccoon inside the glass base. The shade was decorated with fringe.

Kendle estimates he's made about 50 lamps so far, and his garage is full of parts for more. He has cupboards full of light cords, sockets and "harps," the metal side pieces that lead from the base to the socket. He has odd globes and lamp pieces on shelves.

Kendle is one of 16 children. He and Beverly have four children and a dozen grandchildren, including a set of twin girls. There are plenty of people in the family who might need a lamp.

And then there's next-door neighbor Betty Printz, who is both lamp recipient and critic. She has a couple of Kendle's lamps, which she trades in for others she likes better, as he makes them. She also drops by the garage and critiques his work.

One of Kendle's sentimental favorites lights a corner of the downstairs family room. It's a lamp he made out of the kerosene lantern he read by when he was in grade school in Nova, Pa.

Kendle's aesthetic favorite is in an upstairs bedroom. It's a lamp he made from a set of hanging scales and decorated with an old shade. When he put an old bulb in and turned on the lamp, he was surprised to find that the light formed a cross.

By using "spare parts" he gets from taking apart old lamps he finds at yard sales, Kendle keeps his costs at a minimum. One socket can cost almost $4 new, he said. Sometimes he gets a whole lamp for 25 cents.

"With a little bit of junk, you can make something," he said.

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