Restoration of Yale Morse & Stiles lighting fixtures begins

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New Haven, CT - Grand Light has begun the process of restoring numerous lighting fixtures from Yale University's Morse & Stiles Colleges.  The fixtures include commissioned work by Oliver Andrews, a well known and respected California sculptor, author and educator at UCLA.
The project scope includes 10 massive cast brass sculptures, known as Type AD3, which provide general lighting in the dining halls of the two colleges.  The project specifications required cleaning and conservation of the artists original finish.  After testing 9 cleaning formulas and 4 methods of application, it was apparent that the existing finish condition of fixture Type AD3 was extremely resistant to a normal restoration clearing and conservation processes and therefore ineffective in achieving any noticeable change.  The normal process was only effective for removing a very light brown film, but ineffective for removal of the extensive surface oxidation and deep stains.

Subsequently Grand Light's craftsman sampled additional cleaning processes including multiple hand applications of various 3M Scotch Brite pads.  These abrasive steps with an inspection and rinse with a proprietary cleaning blend in between removed the deep stains and the heavy surface corrosion levels by a minimum of 60-80%.  These additional steps and redundancy were necessary in minimizing any finish damage while attempting to reach the original finish level.  This process is demonstrated below.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

The process includes 4 scrub cycles at a minimum; some were repeated after the rinse and inspection of the previous scrub results.  The first part of this cycle can be seen in the image above, where a proprietary cleaning blend is being applied to the fixture.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

Initially a course 3M Scotch Brite pad is lightly used.  In sequential cycles the pad is reduced from course to medium, fine, and then very fine.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

Once scrubbed with the proprietary cleaning blend, the fixture is rinsed and then hand-wiped with a cloth to remove any residue.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

An air hose and subsequent heat gun is then used to air dry the cleaned portion of the fixture.  The cleaned area is then inspected, and the cycle is repeated if necessary.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

This process removes as much of the crusted corrosion and dirt buildup as possible with minimal penetration thru the original patina to the cast brass.  Once the cleaning cycles are complete, two coats of a protective conservation wax is hand applied.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

The application of the protective conservation wax is then buffed.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

This cleaning process is repeated on each panel of the fixtures, both on the inside and outside of the fixture. 

With this process we are now removing layers of crusted material and therefore periodically filter/recycle the cleaning and rinse water, collect and containerize all cleaning pads, rags, water and sludge for proper disposal.

Yale Morse & Stiles Lighting Restoration

In addition to the cleaning process, all painted elements including chain, ceiling canopy, fixture loops and lamp cylinders will be refinished.

These fixtures have been reviewed on several occasions by two certified conservators whom are members of AIC and NIC in determining the existing condition, finish and various cleaning, conservation, and restoration processes for these sculptures.

All major fixtures on this project require new energy efficient lamping/ballasting modifications and therefore a significant amount of engineering, custom components/hardware fabrication, mock ups, bead blasting, painting wiring, and testing are conducted simultaneously to the finish conservation efforts. 

Those interested in following the progress of this project can visit Grand Light's website at


About Grand Light:

Grand Light has restored, replicated and manufactured custom lighting fixtures at every scale, including various projects at Yale University,  the Lincoln Square Theater in Decatur, IL., The Otesaga Resort and Hotel in Cooperstown, NY., The Shubert Theater in New Haven, CT., and other prestigious projects nation wide.

Located at 580 Grand Avenue, New Haven, Conn., Grand Light has been serving the interior and exterior lighting needs of homeowners and professionals since 1929.

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