COOLICON – UNIQUE ENAMELLING
For almost a century, the ovens at British Coolicon have been firing gorgeous colours into the timeless glowing red surfaces of the standing lamps at over 800 degrees. The manufacturing method has barely changed since the iconic lamp was first produced and patented in 1933. Coolicon continues to gravitate towards human labour and estimates rather than hi-tech nano precision and mechanical uniformity.
Deviating shades, freckles, and even black flecks from the oven imprinted on the lamp—all of these are markers of the quality with which Coolicon has been synonymous since 1933.
In all the small cosy workshops and factories that manufacture the lamps around England, traditional production methods and individual authenticity are carefully guarded. Each Coolicon pendant is handmade and completely unique.
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE CAREFUL THREE-DAY PROCESSThe 15 Steps of Enamelling and Finishing
DAY 1 – Steps 1-5
On the first day, the talented artisans at the enamelling factory carefully remove any welding or forming marks on the new steel shades by hand. Once this is done, the steel gets an acid bath, etching the surface to ensure that the beautiful enamelling can fuse to the surface. Glass chips and minerals are carefully measured and milled over the course of 8 hours to create a dense liquid, which is used to coat the inside and outside of the lamp with varying thicknesses depending on the desired colour of the lampshade. Finally, the furnace is set to 850°C, and the lamp undergoes a 30-minute firing cycle that brings the colour and the lampshade together for good.
DAY 2 – Steps 6-11
The next day, the process is repeated on the outside of the lampshade, applying an enamel coating made using Coolicon’s secret recipe of natural mineral and oxides. Some colours, like yellow, need a base layer of white enamel, which requires an extra firing at 800 degrees. Finally, the white enamel is added on the inside of the lampshade using a handheld spray. If any of the white is sprayed on the outside of the lampshade, this is wiped off before the lamp is fired for the last time at 800 degrees. The enamel melts over the lamp in a semi-controlled process that creates a natural colour variation. This is the marker of quality that shows the talented that goes into the production of each lamp.
DAY 3 – Steps 12-15
On the third and final day, the lampshade goes through quality control. Hanging marks created by the suspension of the lamps inside the oven are removed by hand with an abrasive stone. When the lamp is perfect in its own unique way, it receives the Coolicon badge, creating unique creases. The variations in the shape and colouring of each lamp reflect the practical nature of glass enamelling compared to decorative surface colouring, the purpose of which is to protect the lamp in extreme conditions. Coolicon lamps are unphased by water, steam, and rust, thanks to their solid glass enamelling. Likewise the lamps don’t fade in direct sunlight but rather reflect a better light than a regular coat of paint would. Last, but not least, the homogeneous and reliable glass surface is hard to scratch and built to last a long time.
This entire process ties back to Coolicon’s roots as a reliable light source for millions of workers in the industrial heartlands of Britain. The smart design allowed the heat to escape out of the top of the lamp, which greatly benefited the hard-working souls toiling away under the heat and comfortable light of the vaulted dome. Combined with the reliable craftsmanship, the practical and aesthetically comfortable design made the lamp a feature of spaces from factories to Winston Churchill’s war rooms during the darkest days of the 1940s. The design has stood the test of time, and the light shines on to this day. Find the range of unique Coolicon pendants here