What is Porcelain Enamel? And why’s it used in lighting?
Porcelain enamel is a glass coating used in the manufacturing of innumerable household products. Also referred to as vitreous enamel, porcelain’s appeal primarily centers on its inherent ability to strengthen and protect these items from everyday wear and tear.
Due to its unmatched durability and resiliency, porcelain was an industry standard for historic lighting manufacturers. The shades once installed in factories, warehouses, and agricultural settings were ensconced with layers of porcelain enamel to help them withstand the sometimes taxing conditions they faced in these locations.
What are some aesthetic benefits to porcelain?
Unlike other finishes which can gradually fade with age, porcelain has demonstrated the ability to retain its color even after decades of use. Along with this color retention, porcelain possesses high-gloss properties that beautifully render colors and let the shades glisten in the sunlight.
What is RLM lighting?
Porcelain enamel is most commonly used on traditional RLM lighting shades—that stands for Reflective Luminaire Manufacturer. RLM lights are designed to direct light downward onto floors, sidewalks, and other surfaces, filling homes and businesses with illumination. These lights originated to brighten industrial and outdoor settings, but they eventually found their way into the interior spaces of businesses and homes.
RLM designs have remained consistent throughout the 20th century. Because they feature nostalgic character without feeling outdated or antiquated, RLM lights are still prominently featured in contemporary homes and businesses. As new preferences and styles have emerged, slight variations on these classic designs, like rounded lines and subtle playfulness, let RLM shades remain relevant to modern spaces.
How is porcelain enamel lighting constructed?
Historically, porcelain lights were manufactured exclusively by hand, but eventually mass production replaced this “hands on” approach. However, manufacturers like Barn Light Electric, who revived the art of porcelain enamel lighting in the United States, honor the legacies of traditional lighting companies by producing American made lights and RLM shades by hand.
At Barn Light Electric, the process of creating porcelain enamel lights begins as round disks are stamped out of flat pieces of steel. The steel disks are then spun on a lathe and carefully worked around a mold by hand until it assumes the traditional shape. Holding the shades in their hands let our talented artisans pay meticulous attention to detail as they create each light.
Multiple layers of porcelain enamel are then applied to the shade to give them their distinctive appearance and ingrained durability. To permanently fuse the porcelain and steel together, the shades are fired in an oven capable of reaching temperatures of 1,600 degrees. After that, the shades are outfitted with sockets, mountings, and other customization options and shipped to homes and businesses throughout the country!
What the most common mountings for porcelain light fixtures? Where is porcelain enamel lighting typically installed?
Because porcelain light shades are capable of interior and exterior installation, they’re available with nearly every mounting imaginable. This lets every space embrace the nostalgic look of RLM porcelain lighting.
With a vast selection of porcelain colors, wire cages and cast guards, and other options, all porcelain lighting can be fully customized to meet any space’s particular needs.