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A type of incandescent lamp, shaped like a hot-air-balloon, having a round globe top that necks down to a metal screw base, that is currently used in most indoor residential lighting applications.
A Mediterranean plant whose leaves growing through a wicker basket, according to Vitruvius, the Roman architectural writer, suggested the Corinthian capital to the Greek sculptor Callimachus. This stylized leaf was widely used in classic Greek and Roman architecture and decoration, as well as in later revivals of these styles.
Acid etching
The process of etching the surface of glass with hydrofluoric acid. Often used simply to frost clear glass, acid etching can also produce decoration by covering the glass with an acid-resistant substance such as wax, through which the design is scratched. A mixture of dilute hydrofluoric acid and potassium fluoride is then applied to etch the exposed areas of glass.
A style of architecture, art and decoration lasting from approximately 1775 to 1810 based on the work of the brothers Robert and James Adam who were English architects. The Adam Brothers were among the first “Neoclassical period” designers. Their work was influenced by a new close observation of Roman excavations in Pompeii and Spalatro. Characteristics of their style are chaste low-relief detail, slender, fine, straight lines, symmetry, and classical Roman and Greek scenes and ornamentation. They later drew inspiration from Chinese and even medieval Gothic period sources.
A very fine variety of either gypsum or calcite mined in Egypt, Spain, Italy, and England, among other locations. It is translucent and its color is white to dark amber. It sometimes has veins of contrasting black or brown bands running through it. It is often used for domes or shades of light fixtures.
The process of slowly cooling glass or metal in a furnace to relieve stresses and impart certain characteristics to the object. If a hot metal or glass object is intentionally quenched or allowed to cool too quickly, stresses remain frozen in the structure that often lead to brittleness.
Decorative motif of Greek origin, usually appearing mounted on a roofline or on top of a cornice. The radiating pattern resembles the honeysuckle flower or palm leaf. See also “Palmette”.
A vertical border placed at right angles to the underside of a shelf, ledge, or table top. See also “Skirt”.
An ornamentation consisting of an interlacing design of foliage.
A construction that spans space and supports its own weight as well as the weight of the structure above it. Arches are typically curved, though they have many variations.
An arm is the projecting element that supports the candle or lamp. In an exterior wall fixture, the arm usually projects from the backplate on the wall to support the globe or body of a lantern. In a multi-arm chandelier, the arm usually projects from the body to support the candle or shade-bearing cup. In a wall sconce, the arm usually projects from the backplate on the wall to support the candle or shade-bearing cup.
Arm-receiver Bowl
A decorative covering of the arm-receiver plate. This silvered glass or metal vessel conceals the juncture of the arms and their wiring, if any.
Arm-receiver Plate
In some sconces (at the location of the armback) and most many multi-arm chandeliers (at the body), an arm-receiver plate is a metal plate with square or round holes into which the mating male ends of the arms connect. It is not commonly visible or decorative.
An armback is the visible and or decorative element that supports the arm from the point where it springs off the backplate (in the case of a sconce) or body (in the case of a chandelier) and conceals the arm-receiver plate.
Art Deco
A style of architecture, art and decoration lasting from approximately 1920 to about 1940, this period takes its name from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industririels Modernes of 1925. The unifying hallmarks of the period were an interest in simplified, reductivist geometric forms, speed, machine design, and products engineered for mass production. There were roughly two branches of the Art Deco movement, one interested in applying abstracting, essentializing, geometric treatment to all objects, be they teapots, book-bindings, or automobiles, and the other interested in form following function, rather than the decorative treatment of surfaces per se.
Art Glass
A term meant to describe any of the many non-architectural, hand-made, variegated color, glass materials used in manufacturing lighting fixtures and leaded, stained glass windows.
Art Nouveau
A style of architecture, art and decoration lasting from approximately 1880 to 1925 whose hallmark is asymmetry and a serpentine whiplash line. The style was inspired by plant and animal forms in nature, which were rendered in attenuated, stylized detail. Some of the leading Art Nouveau designers were H. Guimard, L.C. Tiffany, A. Gaudi, C. R. Mackintosh, and A. Beardsley.
Arts and Crafts
A stylistic period in architecture and decorative arts from approximately 1880-1920 and strongest in the US, England, and Germany. The style emphasized decoration derived from construction techniques (e.g. expressed mortise and tenon joinery or nailheads) and hand-crafted products with the toolmarks left intact. The philosophical wellspring of this movement was an antipathy to the alienation of the craftsman from his work in an industrial setting, and a rose-tinted view of the medieval guild and cathedral school systems of production. The overall designs of fixtures were generally plain and ornamented if at all, with simple, naturalistic, stenciled decoration. See also "Mission Style".


A backplate is any of a variety of forms and styles of decorative points-of-attachment for a sconce to a wall,. Common forms are ovals, hemispheres, shields, etc. Since the advent of gas and electric services run in walls, the backplate has taken on the role of covering the service junction box.
A spherical or ovoid body. In a baroque chandelier column, the ball is commonly the focal point and single largest element.
An electrical device used with fluorescent or LED lamps to supply sufficient voltage to start and operate the lamp but then to limit the current during operation.
Turned vase-shaped vertical post supporting the rail of a staircase. Also known as a spindle.
A thin metal strip, usually with pierced or embossed decoration, wrapped around a glass or contrasting metal substrate.
A style of architecture, art, and decoration lasting from approximately 1625 to 1750 whose hallmarks are curvilinear details, highly sculptural, active surfaces, theatrical effects in architecture that act independently of structure, asymmetry, and rich materials. Common motifs include bold, deep, opposing “C” scrolls, bulbous elaborate profiles in turnings and mouldings, spiral columns, and naturalistic, if over-ripe foliate details.
Dark, opaque porcelain invented by Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795).
A base or lamp-base is the broad, weighted foot of a table or floor lamp that sits on the table surface or floor.
A foliate motif usually consisting of small two or three lobed flowers, often graduated in size, arrayed in a garland.
Bent Glass
Flat glass that is heated in a kiln until it becomes plastic and slumps into or over a mold to produce curved, volumetric shapes. Also known as slumped glass.
The edge of any flat surface that has been cut at a sharp angle to the larger plane surface.
Beveled Glass
Glass having the edges cut back at an angle to the main plane surface.
Billiard Light
The billiard light was developed to evenly illuminate the large rectangular playing surface of a billiard table. Billiard lights are commonly designed with three or more downward-reflecting shades arrayed along a horizontal bar.
African figures used in decorative arts as busts, hermes, or other elements. Usually dressed with exaggerated Arabic or African costume, they sometimes represent one of the four continents (The Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia).
Blaze Hole
In glass-making, the opening in the furnace through which the flame passes.
Blown Glass
Glass that is made on a blowpipe. The glass blower gathers molten glass on the end of his blowpipe, then blows air into a molten ball of glass, creating a bubble. This ball is then inflated, elongated, patterned, etc. to suit the designers need.
A shallow dish originally used for catching wax drips. It is located either directly on top of the candle cup or directly below the candle cup (or both). See also "Waxpan".
The body is the central element of a chandelier, of almost any shape or style, from which the arms radiate. See also "Column".
A bollard light is a type of exterior light fixture that mounts to the top of a pier or post. See also "Pier-mount Light".
The glass or alabaster lens of an indirect light fixture.
An yellow-gold alloy of approximately 70% copper and 30% zinc. Brass is somewhat cold-workable, though it has brittle, work-hardening qualities. There are tens of common brass alloys, each with divergent uses and workability characteristics. Brass can be polished to a mirror-level reflective surface. Brass is highly corrosion-resistant though it does oxidize from light brown to black, in dry interior settings, to bright green in exterior settings. To complicate things, some brasses are called bronzes in trade name and industrial convention. Brass can be cast, rolled into sheets, turned on a lathe, hammered at room-temperature into shapes, etc.
Bridge-Arm Lamp
A bridge arm lamp is a type of table or floor lamp having a cantilevered arm that holds the shade and socket. The arm is often pivotable as well as height-adjustable.
A yellow-orange alloy of approximately 90% copper and 10% tin. Bronze is quite cold-workable, with minor work-hardening qualities. There are hundreds of common bronze alloys, each with divergent uses and workability characteristics. Bronze can be polished to a mirror-level reflective surface. Bronze is highly corrosion-resistant though it does oxidize from light brown to black, in dry interior settings, to bright green in exterior settings. Though bronze is most famous for it’s superior flow and finish in casting processes, it can also be rolled into sheets, turned on a lathe, hammered at room-temperature into shapes, etc.
Bronze d'Ore
French for "gilded bronze". The term commonly means bronze with an ornamental coating of gold leaf, gold electroplating, fire-gilding, or other surface application of real or imitation gold.
A light source within a glass housing. See also "Lamp".
Burning fluid
A mixture of alcohol and turpentine, used as lamp fuel in the 19th century. Dangerously explosive, it was replaced by kerosene in the late 1850s.
A process used to brighten metal by rubbing it with another harder metal. Gold foil is burnished by rubbing it with steel tools having polished ball-shaped ends.


Multiple wires arranged in a common covering of insulating plastic or other materials and used as an electrical conductor.
A small semiprecious stone or a shell carved in relief and used as ornament. Also, any low-relief Neoclassical profile of a figure, often in pottery or painted metal.
A candela (cd) is the unit of measurement of luminous intensity of a light source in a given direction.
A table-top version of a chandelier. Candelabras are commonly comprised of a weighted base, a column, a small body from which the arms, waxpans, and candle-cups spring.
A light source of wax or tallow, usually cylindrical shaped, accreted around a yarn or cord wick, which when burning, provides steady light by drawing the molten wax up towards the flame. The wick burns only incidentally as the true source of combustion is the wax.
Candle Cup
A ferrule for a candle or candle sleeve. A candle cup is usually positioned above the bobeches, last in the sequence of parts of a chandelier or sconce arm.
Candle Lighting
Candles were first used in lighting fixtures in Egypt in the form of rush or reed-pith dipped in beeswax. The materials and techniques for making candles varied over the next ~3000 years but they were basically all vegetable-based wicks in animal fats or beeswax. Candle powered fixtures share some basic attributes that are appreciable in their form. They need a cup or pricket in or on-which to hold the candle. They need a pan or shallow bowl to catch the drippings. The candles are often held away from each other and from the central stem to not melt each other, and to disperse light evenly. The invention of the argand lamp in the 1790s and the kerosene lamp in the 1840s spelled the end of commercial candle power, but not of the aesthetic appeal of candle light.
Candle Sleeve
A candle sleeve is a cylinder of material (metal, paperboard, ceramic, or glass) that covers the electrical socket or gas nipple, with the decorative intention of appearing like a candle.
Luminous intensity of a particular light source expressed in candela.
Candlestick Lamp
An electric fixture that has a tall, slim column modeled after a traditional single candle stick.
The canopy is a decorative ceiling mount, most often a dome or bell, for a hanging light. The canopy serves to cover the electrical or gas junction box in the ceiling.
The decorative crowning motif atop a column or pilaster shaft, usually composed of moldings, volutes, and foliate ornament. The most characteristic feature of each classical architectural order.
A thin, translucent, slightly amber, natural shell material used in lighting fixture lenses.
A shield or ovoid form with curved or rolled edges suggesting a scroll shape. Often used as a surround for crests and inscriptions.
A column in the form of a female figure. Derived from Greek architecture, it is most famously used on the porch of the Erechtheion on the Acropolis at Athens.
Cased Glass
Cased glass is glass formed by layering two or more different colors of glass together. Sometimes for decorative effect the top layer is wheel-cut back to reveal a lower contrasting-colored layer. It is sometimes referred to as "overlay glass.” White-over-clear cased glass is more translucent than solid white glass as the layer of opaque white is thinner. The process for producing cased glass articles starts with the glass blower gathering a small amount of one color glass on the end of the blow-pipe, forming a bubble, and re-immersing that bubble into a different colored glass, thereby building up layers.
Cast Glass
Cast glass is glass that has been poured, and often pressed, into a mold. The resulting glass object bears the details of the mold. The casting process can produce great wall thicknesses, asymmetrical designs, and crisp relief.
Cast Iron
Cast iron is an alloy of iron and small amounts of carbon and silicon. It has a low melting point and flows well and is used extensively for casting. It is very machinable (drilling, turning, etc.) but is brittle and not cold-formable like wrought iron.
The act of pouring molten metal into a mold, or any part manufactured in this manner.
A series of flexible links of ovals, circles, rectangles, or other shapes interconnected to form a strong support for a hanging chandelier or pendant, or other fixture and usually made of metal.
The word derives from candle-maker (chandler). A ceiling-hung lighting fixture designed usually with multiple projecting arms. Chandeliers are more often designed to spread light horizontally for general room illumination, as opposed to vertically, as in the case of a pendant. Chandeliers are commonly used to illuminate dining rooms, living rooms, large processional and ceremonial spaces, and large foyers.
The finishing steps in producing finely detailed metalwork, most commonly used in cast objects. The surface of the metal is hammered by the craftsperson, or chaser, with hundreds of different minute chisels each producing finer definition in lines, accentuating beading, or hatching and matting background surfaces, etc.
A blown glass tube of various shapes placed around flame to protect it against wind. When not used with an open flame, it is principally for ornamentation and light diffusion.
European adaptation of Oriental designs popular mainly during late 17th-century French, Rococo and Regency periods, although persisting through the Art Deco period as well. Motifs used include pagodas, fretwork, dragons, monkeys, and fans. Hallmarks of the style are asymmetrical compositions, lacquered surfaces, and blue-on-white porcelains.
Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) was one of the most famous cabinet makers of 18th-century England. His work shows a refinement of Georgian styles, influenced by the Gothic, Chinese, and French Rococo. He was the first of his era to popularize the use of mahogany rather than walnut, the prevailing wood in the Early Georgian period. In 1754 he published "The Gentlemen's and Cabinetmaker's Directory," disseminating his designs and interpretations of styles.
A type of enamelware in which the various colors are separated and held by delicate metal partition filaments, or“cloissons”. Used frequently for lamp bases, cigarette boxes, and ash trays.
The junction element between a lower group of several chains or stems and a single upper chain or stem. Also known as a cluster body.
A column is a type of lamp or chandelier body, or a component of a larger chandelier body. See also "Body".
A chemical element (symbol Cu). Copper is a metal of peachy-red color. It is very malleable at room temperature and workable into many forms (sheet, wire, plate, rod) with most common manufacturing techniques except casting which is of more than average difficulty for this metal.
Copper Wheel Engraving
A technique of decorating the surface of a glass object. Copper disks or wheels are rotated on a spindle. An abrasive mixed with oil is applied to the edge of the wheel. The wheel presses the abrasive against the glass so that it removes the surface by grinding.
A decorative motif consisting of a horn or basket shaped as a horn and overflowing with fruit and foliage.
An element with a concave section. In lighting design, a cove is a channel, high on a wall, that conceals indirect lighting.
A crossbar is a metal strap that spans the opening of an electrical junction box and allows for the attachment of a light fixture.
See “Rock Crystal” and “Cut Leaded Glass".
Cut Glass
A method of decorating glass whereby portions of the glass are removed by grinding and polishing.
Cut Leaded Glass
Commonly mistaken for crystal, which is mineral quartz, cut leaded glass is actually the material of most “crystal” chandeliers. There are great, antique, royal-palace quality cut glass chandeliers and lousy quality pressed glass chandeliers, but neither of them are actual mineral quartz. Good cut glass lighting is made of high lead content glass that allows for glass of almost total clarity and for the glass to be cut and polished to a high luster. The term "crystal" has crept into common use to denote high quality cut leaded glass.


Desk Lamp
The desk lamp was developed to illuminate a work surface. Desk lamps are typically designed with down-pointing shades held on height and pivot-adjustable arms. The bases are typically stout to support the cantilevered weight of the shade. The light is focused on the work or reading surface; the lip of the shade is below eye-level.
Diaper Pattern
A cross-hatched, low-relief surface decoration pattern.
Light control device that spreads light by scattering it. Glass, fabric, and paper shades act as diffusers.
A period of design in France after the Revolution, from 1793 to 1800. Characterized by Roman motifs and named for the Directory, the new revolutionary French government.
A partial or full-hemisphere for diffusing or reflecting light. See also “Bowl” and “Inverted Dome Chandelier”.


Early American
A broad period in the design of American architecture and decorative arts from the 16th to the early 18th centuries. The designs were plain and based on utility foremost and the style was taken from English Jacobean and William and Mary styles.
Egg and Dart
A decorative motif from classical antiquity consisting of ovoid or egg shapes alternating with dart-like points.
Electric Lighting
Starting in the 1880s with Edison’s electric lamp, lighting fixture designers began taking their cues from the new technology’s requirements and freedoms. Power could be delivered to the bulb by wires threaded through chains, in tubes, tied on to glass arms, etc. The light was initially dim and early electric power fixtures orient bare bulbs radially as well as pointing directly down. As bulbs became brighter and new forms of bulbs emerged, lighting designers could vary the aesthetics of the fixture to the program of the space; lighting fixture design became uncoupled from the limitations of candle, oil, or gas fuels. The 1920s began a design inquiry into the nature of light as a medium where we see the fixture recede to pure function and literally disappear into the ceiling. Alongside this development, designers treated the decorative aspect of electric fixtures, themselves emblematic of modernity, with streamlined details, reductive or stripped applied detail, and planar surfaces.
A process of stamping, hammering or molding a material so that a design is registered in the surface.
A period of Neoclassical design during the reign of Napoleon from 1804 10 1814. Greek, Roman, and Egyptian motifs were widely used. The style appeared in America primarily in the work of Duncan Phyfe.
A colored vitreous glaze used to decorate metal and ceramic surfaces. It becomes hard and permanent after firing. Some hard-drying glossy paints are colloquially referred to as enamels.
A method of producing a design with shallow cuts made by fine grinding wheels or by hardened steel scratching tools (in glass or metal).


Richly decorated and colorful pottery produced first in Faenza, Italy and at Rouen, France about 1644. Small flowers, cornucopias and arrows are typical motifs done in blue, green, and yellow on a cream-white background.
An American period 1780-1830 influenced by English Adam, Sheraton, Regency, Hepplewhite, French Directoire, and Empire. The most common ornament of this period of decorative arts was the eagle.
A shallow metal socket, usually cylindrical in shape into which another part mates. For example glass chandelier arms terminate in ferrules at the arm-receiver plate and they are capped in ferrules at the candle-end to support bobeches.
Renaissance and Neoclassical motif in the shape of a suspended loop of drapery or a garland of flowers and fruit.
A finial is any of a variety of usually upward-pointing ornaments found, among other places, at the top of a chandelier body or armback or sconce backplate.
Fire Gilding
Fire gilding is a technique for applying gold to a base metal of usually bronze or silver by painting it with an amalgam of mercury and gold dust. When the amalgam-coated object is placed in a furnace, the mercury vaporizes and in doing so, creates a bond between the residual gold and the base metal. Historically, this extremely toxic technique paid very high wages as it tended to kill its practitioners in short order.
Fire Polishing
Reheating an object to remove mold marks and marks left by tools or melting the surface to a very shallow depth to eliminate superficial irregularity, while leaving the majority of the form intact.
Fish Scale
A decorative low-relief pattern consisting of overlapping ovals, as in fish scales.
Part of a fixture that accepts a glass globe. The diameter of the fitter determines the size of the neck or opening in the globe.
Floor Lamp
A floor lamp is a light fixture that stands on the floor and is tall enough to provide light to a person seated in a chair. There are many varieties, but they all share these common features: A heavy base at floor level, a “standard” or pole that provides the vertical rise, a cluster that holds the sockets.
An adjective describing the origin of a design or pattern in plant forms, specifically a flower in bloom.
Flush Mount
A light fixture whose body is affixed directly to the ceiling without a canopy, chain, or stem.
Decoration formed by making parallel, concave grooves. In classical architecture they are commonly seen on column shafts and run in a vertical direction. Often confused with reeding. See also "Reeding".
An adjective describing the origin of a design or pattern in plant forms.
A measurement of the amount of light power that hits a particular area. The term “lux” is now often used. See also "Lux".
Free-blown Glass
Free-blown glass is hand-blown glass shaped entirely by hand tools and the motion of the blowpipe.


Pattern consisting of a series of parallel, convex lobes or tapered reeds.
A gallery is an ornamental railing around the edge of a shelf, table, or step.
Gas Lighting
Although known in parts of the world with natural gas deposits for over 2000 years, around 1840 gas lighting began making a serious appearance in the domestic interior and in city streets. The original light source of gas lighting was a large open flame. The danger and heat of the open flame lead to the development of glass shades and lanterns to surround the light. The necessity of delivering gas through the body and arms of the lighting fixture also directed the aesthetics of the fixtures. Chains were dropped in favor of stems or pipes as all fittings up to the flame must be hollow. Reliable supplies and new technology around 1880 further popularized gas lighting.
A period of design in English furniture from 1714 to 1795. Among the best known designers were Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Chippendale, and the Adam Brothers.
A mixture of plaster and glue for molding durable, quick, and cheap sculptural details.
Ornamental coating of gold leaf, electrolytically deposited gold, or gold dust. Also known as gilded or gilt.
Elaborate table candelabra or heavily carved and often gilded wall sconces with mirrored backplates.
Glass Seeds
Small bubbles and air pockets trapped within glass.
A glass shade that contains a light source.
A chemical element (symbol Au). Gold is an extremely malleable bright yellow metal. It is easy to work at room temperature. It can be pulled into thread for embroidery or pounded out into sheets so thin that they are translucent. As well as having a brilliant yellow sheen, gold is very non-reactive so has been used as a decorative and protective coating for other metals via plating, gilding, and leafing.
A period of architecture and decorative arts beginning in the 12th century and ending in the 16th century across Europe. Characteristics include the pointed arch or lancet, the trefoil, quatrefoil, and other lobed patterns, and repetitive geometric tracery.
A style of decoration incorporating fantastical elements such as shell encrusted caves and sea creatures, stalactites, and fountains. See also "Grotto Ornament".
Grotto Ornament
A style of decoration incorporating fantastical elements such as shell encrusted caves and sea creatures, stalactites, and fountains. See also "Grotesques".


The mark or marks designating that a piece of work has received an official approval of quality. Historically, hallmarks referred an object back to a specific guild hall, but now can mean any mark that attributes an object to its maker.
Hammered Glass
Glass seen most commonly on outdoor fixtures that has a rippled, pitted, peened, or antique aspect.
A ball-and-socket joint coupling between a canopy and a stem that allows a bit of play between a pitched or uneven ceiling and a lighting fixture so that the fixture will “hang straight”.
A metal U-shaped bracket that spans a light-bulb and is used to attach a shade onto a lamp.
George Heppelwhite (1727-1786) was an English designer in the 18th century who frequently collaborated with the Adam Brothers. He wrote "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide."
A column in the form of a male figure and derived from Greek architecture. See also "Caryatid" and "Telamon".
A threaded pipe coupling with a side opening used in wiring a light fixture and for attaching a fixture to an junction box.
A type of glass made by the Holophane company (1898 – present) characterized by clear, non-tint color and a sharply ribbed surface. The ribbing and shape of the glass are directly related to the diffusion pattern and intensity of light produced by the fixture.
Hot Blast
A live flame lantern design whereby some of the hot 'exhaust' air was recirculated down the side tubes and mixed with fresh air and fed to the burner. This was an improvement over the non-circulating, “dead-flame” configuration.
Hurricane Lamp
A lamp having a glass housing to protect its candle from the wind and originating in 19th-century oil and candlestick lamps for marine use.


A shallow, often plainly geometric carving.
Form of decoration that involves cutting small pieces of ivory, precious metals, mother-of-pearl, or wood which are then fitted into carved-out recesses of the same shape on a contrasting base material to create a picture or geometric design.
Incised or sunken decoration.
Elaborate pictorial marquetry or inlaid paneling, used in Renaissance Italy and also 16th-century Germany.
Inverted Dome Chandelier
A glass or stone dish that is open at the top and suspended from a stem or chains, providing semi-indirect light. Inverted Dome Chandeliers sometimes incorporate projecting, candle-bearing arms.
A chemical element (symbol Fe). Iron is a magnetic metal, silvery gray in color when fresh but oxidizes rapidly to a deep brownish red. Very soft when absolutely pure, iron gains in strength and hardness when it is alloyed with other elements, notably carbon, chromium, and nickel. Carbon and iron combine to form steel. The main alloys of iron used in the decorative arts are cast iron, a very strong, although brittle, alloy that is easily melted and poured and wrought iron, which is very ductile and easily hot worked.


See "Junction Box".
A period in English design from 1603 to 1688. Characteristics include jeweled strapwork, interlaced guilloches and banding, and checker patterns. Also known as late Tudor.
A technique borrowed from Japan where furniture and metalwork are detailed with colored shellac in raised patterns, then painted primarily with golds, blacks, and reds.
The name given by Josiah Wedgwood to the matte, white clay that can be colored and decorated. Often these objects were finished in blue grounds and resembled cameo plaques.
Junction Box
A metal or plastic enclosure providing the point of service connection between gas pipes or electrical wires and the equipment they power. One hangs a chandelier from a junction box and connects the trunk line of the chandelier to the supply wires in the box. See also "J-box".


Lacquer is a clear coating that protects metal fixtures from rusting or tarnishing.
A modern term for a bulb or other light source.
Equipping a fixture with a lamp or changing the bulb.
A diffuser for directing, reducing, or changing the quality of light from a lamp. Most commonly a cylinder or tapered drum made of paper or fabric.
A narrow pointed arch.
Unlike chandeliers which are most often oriented radially, lanterns are oriented vertically. They are typically designed with metal frames holding glass panels or an infill-panel such as mesh, beaded prisms, or fabric. Lanterns may occasionally have projecting arms.
An openwork criss-cross pattern.
Lead Crystal
Not a type of true crystal, lead crystal is a type of good quality glass with a high lead content that imparts high clarity and softness for good cutting and polishing.
Leaded Glass
Small pieces of glass joined at the edges with metal, traditionally with lead although zinc and copper are also common. The term does not refer to the presence of lead in the composition of the glass itself.
Leaf and Dart
A decorative pattern composed of alternating tapered leaves and points.
A glass or stone, usually alabaster, dish that contains a light source such as bulbs, candles, an oil-burner, etc.
Library Lamp
A library lamp is typically designed with a pair of down-pointing shades extended on horizontal arms from a central stem or body. The shades are traditionally made of green-over-white cased glass. The light is focused on the work or reading surface; the lip of the shade is below eye-level.
Form of carving which imitated vertical folds of drapery. Probably Flemish in origin, it was widely used in the 15th and 16th centuries to decorate furniture and wall paneling.
A loop is an open fastener allowing connection of a chandelier or pendant to a suspension chain. Commonly in the form of a circular ring, a trefoil, a diamond, or a double “C” scroll. A loop can also be a decorative detail used as a finial.
Louis XIV
A style of architecture, art, and decoration coinciding with the reign of Louis XIV who reigned in France between 1643 and 1715. Influenced by the Baroque style during the earlier years, the style later developed into the Regence style. Baroque was large, masculine, and symmetrical while Regence was characterized by it's use of curves and the introduction of Chinoiserie. Ornamentation was often done with sunbursts, rocks, shells, and flowers.
Louis XV
A style of architecture, art, and decoration coinciding with the reign of Loius XV in France and lasting from approximately 1715 to 1774. Characteristics include asymmetrical curvilinear details, naturalistic renderings of flora and fauna, and deep sculptural relief. Common motifs are shells, acanthus leaves, and undulating lines with S-curves and opposing C-scrolls.
Louis XVI
A style of architecture, art, and decoration coinciding with the reign of Louis XVI in France and lasting from approximately 1774 to 1793. Characteristics include symmetrical straight-lined details and Neoclassical balance. Common motifs aree rectangular lines, Greek and Pompeian architectural ornamentation, and shallow-relief surfaces.
A fin or slat that allows a controlled passage of light while often obscuring the actual source point of the light.
A measure of the total power of visible light emitting from a light source.
Luminous Efficacy
A measure of how efficiently a light source converts power to visible light as much of the energy is transformed into types of radiation that are not visible, such as heat or infrared.
A measurement of visible light power in a particular area. For example, a light source emitting 1000 lumens on a ceiling may provide only 100 lux to a tabletop beneath it. See also “Footcandle”.
A representation of the stringed musical instrument from classical antiquity that is wide at the bottom and with opposing “S” scrolls narrowing to the top.


Machine-blown Glass
Glass shaped by mechanically forcing air into molten glass so that it takes the shape of a mold.
Italian and Spanish pottery coated with a tin and/or lead-based enamel and painted with bright colors. Originally an Islamic Mideastern technique.
A pattern produced by inserting contrasting materials in a veneered surface, flush to that surface. Differently colored and grained woods are most common, but thin layers of tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and metals are also used.
A circular or oval frame having within it an ornamental motif.
Mission Style
This American style from the early 1900s takes its name from the Catholic missions in California, borrowing simple designs in basic materials. Furniture was made mainly from oak and metalwork of copper and iron, all marked by plain decoration and durability. Designs were often rectangular and combined the materials and methods of the Arts and Crafts movement. Designers include Gustav Stickley and the craftspeople of the Roycroft community in East Aurora, New York.
Mold Marks
Seam lines that remain on the body of a blown-glass item after it is removed from a mold.
Mold-blown Glass
Glass that is blown into, and takes its exterior form of, the interior contours of a mold. The interior contours of mold-blown glass are not directly impressed by the mold.
A broad term for any of a variety of applied ornaments (e.g. rosette, ribbon and bow, urn and swag, foliage) that are usually of cast metal but also of other materials such as pottery or glass. On the exterior of the lens of an inverted dome chandelier, mounts are used for both decorative effect as well as functional support to connect the lens to the stems or chains.
Multi-arm Chandelier
A ceiling mounted lighting fixture consisting of a central body with projecting arms.
Mythological & Fantasy
A style of decoration incorporating elements such as dragons, griffins, and sphinxes.


A design, style, or element of a fixture that refers to the sea, aquatic life, boating, etc. Common details include anchors, shells, waves, and dolphins.
Refers to the second revival, the first being the Renaissance, of classical design in architecture and interior decoration in the mid to late 18th century lasting through 1830.
A recessed, coved space in the backplate of a sconce or an architectural element intended to hold a statue or ornament.
A chemical element (symbol Ni). Nickel is a silvery-white metal with great hardness. It is commonly used as a coating for other metals on account of its high resistance to corrosion, its ability to take a bright mirror finish, and its hardness.
The flaring or tapering end of an arm that is directly under a bobeche.


An architectural element having a convex cove joined to a concave nose that produces an “S” profile.
Oil Lighting
Oil or “fluid-fuel” lighting has its origins in prehistory. There are examples of oil lamps from some of the earliest human civilizations. The basic form of the oil lamp was, for thousands of years, a shell or stone dish of molten animal fat or vegetable oil with some vegetable wick such as papyrus, rush, or linen. As in a candle, the heat of the flame draws the fuel up the wick through capillary action where it is burned. Oil lamps went through many improvements over the centuries, but leapt forward with Aime Argand’s invention of the circular tube wick that drafted air from underneath, both around and through the wick tube. The additional oxygen at the flame produced an intense bright light.
Opaline Glass
A type of glass used in lighting fixture shade production that has a cloudy blue or grayish opal translucence and a slight iridescence. Opaline glass was widely used in the production of cast glass domes that were meant to imitate carved alabaster.
Literally “gold-like,” a French term for a type of cast bronze ornament that is finished by hand-chasing and surfaced with gold. Also known as gilt-bronze or bronze dore. The term is often used to refer to bronze furniture mounts that have been enhanced by gilding.


Fan-shaped pattern derived from the shape of a palm tree leaf.
Round or oval medallion motif frequently incorporating radiating fluting, leaves or flower petals in its design. Often carved, it can also be painted or inlaid and is frequently found on Neoclassical furniture.
Term used to describe a darkened, worn appearance formed on the surface of objects due to wear, age, exposure, and hand-rubbing. Patinas vary with the materials, finishing process, and environment of an object. With copper-alloy metals such as bronze, the colors range from light brown to black to green. With iron alloys, the colors range from bright orange to blue to black. With silver and nickel, the color ranges from amber to light brown to black.
A tall, narrow base, usually treated with moldings at the top and bottom, that supports a statue, lamp, vase, or any decorative object.
Broad triangular or curved space above a portico, doorway, window or cabinet.
A pendalogue is a large cut glass or crystal prism in a semi teardrop or pear shape.
1. A light fixture that hangs from the ceiling with a single or several closely coupled chains or stems, has a main body element that is compact, and does not have any projecting light sources such as a chandelier arm. 2. A downward hanging decorative element such as a tassel, bell, loop, or spear. It differs from a finial, which typically points up.
Alloy of tin and lead which has a dull gray appearance and is used for the making of tableware and ornaments. Originally intended as a substitute for silver, its value diminished in the 17th century with the advent of chinaware for everyday use.
Picture Light
The picture light was developed to illuminate wall-hung works of art. Picture lights are typically designed with a long, horizontal, metal shade having a focusable opening directed down and back towards the picture. The shade is held on a long arm, projecting off the backplate and the wall.
Pier-mount Light
A pier-mount light is a type of exterior light fixture that mounts to the top of a pier or post.
A pilaster is an engaged column that is not freestanding. Often referred to as a half-column, though a pilaster may be no more than a low-relief gesture of support.
A bright, white powder of calcinated gypsum that when mixed with water can be easily cast or molded.
Literally, many-colored, or an ornament in several colors.
The part where a glass object was attached to the blowpipe or pontil rod.
A hard, nonporous pottery. True porcelain is made of kaolin or china clay.
A dark brick-red to purple stone with flecks of whitish aggregate. Much coveted, it was mined and carved for royal furniture and fixtures since pharaonic Egypt and often used during the reign of Louis XIV for candelabrum.
Pressed Glass
Glassware formed by pressing a quantity of molten glass between two halves of a metal mold. The resulting piece, referred to as "mold-pressed", has an interior form independent of the exterior, in contrast to mold-blown glass, whose interior corresponds to the outer form.
A wide variety of translucent, faceted, glass or rock crystal elements of a lighting fixture. Commonly called a “crystal.”
Projection is the measurement of distance between the wall and the furthest element from the wall of a wall-mounted fixture.


Latin for “four leaves”. In the decorative arts, it is any of a wide variety of four-lobed forms of naturalistic foliage or abstract geometry.
Queen Anne
A period in architecture and decorative arts design from 1702-1714, characterized by late Baroque symmetry, turned decoration, ball and claw feet, along with plainer surfaces than preceding periods.


A decorative motif of parallel convex moldings that is similar to fluting, which has concave parallel moldings. See also "Fluting".
Period of architecture and design between Louis XIV and the Rococo and named for the time in France from 1715-1728 when Philip, Duke of Orleans, reigned. Characteristics include the cabriole leg and ornamentation based in observation of nature rather than in classical mythology. Asymmetrical arms with lifelike castings of foliage adorn chandeliers and candelabra arms.
Period of strict Neoclassicism between 1810-1820 and influenced by the French Empire, especially Napoleon’s expeditions to Egypt. The term English Regency in the decorative arts is taken broadly to mean late 18th– to early 19th-century Neoclassicism.
The Renaissance was a revival of interest in Greek and Roman classical design that began in Italy during the 14th century and spread to France, Germany, and England up to the 17th century. Early designs are planar and simple and emphasized the use of classical devices such as round arches, rustication, pediments, paterae, acanthus, swags, and cornucopia.
Ornamental relief work on sheet metal where the design is pushed out by hammering from the reverse side in a technique similar to embossing and used extensively in Spanish art.
A ring is a circular metal or wood frame of any profile used to hold an array of candelabra arms or the lens of an inverted dome chandelier. Also referred to as a "rim".
Ring Chandelier
A chandelier whose defining characteristic is a circular or oval metal or wood band to which candles, lanterns, or shades attach. Also called a "hoop chandelier" or a "wagon wheel chandelier".
Rock Crystal
Clear colorless quartz or amethyst that is cut and polished for use in dressing the frames of chandeliers and candelabra. Real crystal can only be cut or carved and cannot be blown or otherwise hot worked.
A late Baroque period in architecture and design originating in the 18th century. It followed asymmetrical lines and close observation of naturalistic details and often included seashell and “C” scroll motifs.
A rosette is an ornament, often circular, that represents a stylized flower. A rosette can be non-separable part of a larger design or it can be detachable. Rosettes commonly have a threaded back end and are used to attach a sconce to the wall. On an inverted dome chandelier, they are seen on the top outside lip of the lens for both decorative effect as well as functional support. A threaded post would connect through the lens to a loop and the suspension chains/rods.
The process of wiring a building and installing the back boxes of electrical devices before the finish work is started.


Any of a wide variety of styles and configurations of wall-mounted lighting fixtures. The defining element is that it is fixed to the wall as opposed to being ceiling-hung or table or floor mounted. Some of the most common types of sconces are: 1. Candle uplight sconces where the basic form is determined by the necessity of burning a candle. These typically have either a spike on which a candle is fixed or a cup into which a candle is inserted and often have a broad pan beneath to catch the dripping wax called a bobeche or waxpan. Both gas and electric powered fixtures have adopted this vocabulary, substituting ceramic or paperboard sleeves to simulate candles. 2. Glass-shaded gas sconces. 3. Uplights or wall washers. These are made of opaque materials to direct all their light up along the wall and ceiling and commonly take the form of shells or split bells.
Screw Collar Loop
A part that connects the primary suspension chain to the ceiling canopy and has a threaded, adjustable collar. Adjusting this allows the installer to temporarily drop the canopy in order to hang the fixture.
A decorative covering or diffuser for any light source of almost limitless shapes and materials.
Shade Riser
An adjustable part that allows the shade on a table or floor lamp to be moved up and down by loosening a set screw, lengthening or shortening the riser stem, and tightening the set screw.
Shield Back
A chair back fashioned in the shape of a shield and common in Hepplewhite designs.
A shadowed contour consisting of an outline of somebody or something filled in with black or a dark color on a light background, especially when done as a likeness or work of art.
A chemical element (symbol Ag). A soft, white metal that is highly workable for decorative and industrial uses through casting, rolling into sheets, spinning, as well as hand-working such as repousse, wire-work, and raising. Silver can be polished to a mirror-level reflective surface.
A board placed at right angles to the underside of a shelf, ledge, or table top. See also “Apron".
Slip Ring
A slip ring is a collar with a perpendicular set-screw that bears against a short section of pipe. Adjusting the set-screw allows the installer to temporarily lower the canopy along the section of pipe in order to hang the fixture.
Stainless Steel
A family of alloys of iron, nickel and chromium that exhibit great strength and corrosion resistance. When polished, it resembles nickel.
A stem is a rod or pipe that connects the body of a hanging fixture to the ceiling canopy. Stems can be of any thickness and profile or decorative detail (e.g. reeded, twisted, embossed). The stem can be any of the vertical types of the chandelier bodies from which the arms radiate.
A term used in connection with silverware that indicates it is 92.5 percent pure silver.
A term used in connection with silverware that indicates it is 92.5 percent pure silver.
A pattern of interlaced bands.
Student Lamp
A desk lamp of metal, usually brass, that has a tubular shaft and one or two arms with shades of opaque glass that are typically dark green or white.
A horizontal C-shaped foliate or berried ornament that is fatter in the middle and tapered at the ends.
Swing Arm Sconce
A wall light with a horizontal-plane pivot in the arm or arms. Swing arm sconces can have one or several pivots and the number of pivots roughly equals the overall projection of the fixture.


A common variety of decorative pendant borrowed from drapery motifs in the form of a knot with twisted cords or threads flaring out beneath it.
Male caryatid. See also "Caryatid" and "Hermes".
Hard-baked pottery used in the decorative arts and as a building material that is usually of a red-brown clay, but may also be colored with paint or baked glaze.
A chemical element (symbol Sn). Tin is a silvery-gray soft metal, highly corrosion resistant and therefore was used to coat other metals such as iron and copper to prevent their oxidation.
French for "tin", tole is typically decorated with painting and the term has come to mean any painted metal.
A type of floor lamp equipped with a decorative glass or metal reflector bowl designed to throw light upward.
Latin for “three leaves”. In the decorative arts, it is any of a wide variety of three-lobed form of naturalistic foliage or abstract geometry.
A decorative device derived from ancient Greek architecture and consisting of the vertically channeled tablets of the Doric frieze.
Period of English architecture and design during the reign of the House of Tudor from 1485 to 1603. Essentially Gothic in character, the style tends to be heavy, massive, and richly carved with ornamentation such as strapwork, half-timbering, inlay, and caryatids.
Decoration produced by rotating metal, wood, ivory, or other substances on a lathe and changing the shape by removing material.


A pattern applied to pottery before the final glazing is applied.
A form of sconce or chandelier that directs light upwards often by way of an opaque shade or diffuser.


Valance Lighting
A fixture installed behind a horizontal shielding over a window or along a wall where light is distributed upwards and usually from a fluorescent or LED source.
Vanity Light
Fixture used at or over a bathroom mirror and often in the form of a long, well-diffused light source.
A common element of the body or stem of a chandelier that has a narrow base and neck and flares wider as it gains in height.
A technique that consists of affixing a thin layer or strips of fine wood or metal to the base material of a piece of furniture or object.
Verre Eglomise
A technique widely used at the turn of the 18th century to produce highly decorative mirrors. Gold or silver was applied to the mirror back and engraved with a needle before placing black or another contrasting color behind the foil. This was then enclosed with a second layer of glass or a coating of varnish.


A shallow dish originally used for catching wax drips, located either directly on top of the candle cup or directly below the candle cup. See also "Bobeche".
English pottery with a hard texture that was first produced by Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795), who used ancient Greek and Roman art, particularly cameos, as inspiration. Color combinations characteristic of Wedgwood pottery are white figures on a light blue, sage green, or black ground.
Wheel Cut Engraving
A process of decorating the surface of glass by the grinding action of a wheel where an abrasive in a grease or slurry is applied to a wheel as the engraver holds the object against the underside of the rotating wheel. See also "Copper Wheel Engraving".
William and Mary
Period of English decorative arts from 1688 to 1702. A Baroque period style with ornamentation such as the cabriole leg and cup and bun turnings.
Wrought Iron
A very pure form of iron with very little carbon in the alloy. Tough and ductile, it is ideal for hot working and limited cold working such as bending, swaging, and drawing.