Functional Florals: Tole Lighting

Functional Florals: Tole Lighting

Sarah Rainwater
May 5, 2010

I inherited a set of tole candle holders from my grandmother and had never seen anything like the playfully sculpted floral structures — or maybe I just wasn't looking. After spotting lovely examples of tole lighting in our last two Providence house tours, I thought I'd take a second look at these elaborate light sources that exude vintage French country charm with a dose of granny chic.

Tole loosely refers to any kind of decorative painting on enameled or lacquered metalware, an art that was popular in the 18th century in Scandinavia, Germany, Pennsylvania (especially among German immigrants), and New England. While their homes are almost totally different in style, both Torin (images 1–3) and Briana (images 4–5), use toleware as focal pieces in their spaces. Tole chandeliers are readily available at antique stores and on eBay and Etsy (the piece shown above is from Etsy seller thepetitemarket for $275). Styles vary greatly, as do prices, but an inexpensive piece that has seen better days can always be repainted to add some springtime whimsy to your space.

Images: Sarah Rainwater

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