I have a bit of a thing for lamps. I'd say it's pretty similar to my thing for chairs, in that I have a hard time not hoarding them, even though we cannot reasonably use more illumination/seating.
When D and I spent a glorious Saturday in Raleigh, we went to the flea market and a few local thrift shops. I picked up an absolutely lovely brass lamp, which immediately reminded me of Jenny's. In fact, I think I pulled up her blog to show it to D in the hopes that it would help convince him of its value (it didn't, but he still let us get it).
Now, it was in pretty tarnished shape, but I've cleaned enough brass to know it's an easy enough fix. For this project I used Noxon, because that's what was under my sink, but Bar Keeper's Friend is good too (and has a cooler name). Noxon works on all metals, but I think it does exceptionally well with very damaged brass (when you get that green and white patina, not just a dull shine) and chrome.
The product is so easy to use I shouldn't even make this a post...I suppose I just wanted to show off the amazing floor lamp we scored. Step one, shake shake shake. The product will separate in the bottle and you'll get a watery dribble if you don't mix it up. I laid the Noxon on pretty thick with a Noxon-soaked sponge or towel for the base, where there was the most damage, and did a thin coating on the lamp heads, which were in better shape. It goes on completely white, but if left long enough, see how it will turn green over the worst patches of oxidized brass? I waited awhile, then used the same wet towel and a little elbow grease to rub in the worst patches. Buff the product in and off with a clean, dry cloth and you're good to go.
Now, I've heard that many recommend a clear coat of lacquer, like polyurethane, over your brass to protect your hard-earned shine. I'd rather just touch up with Noxon once a year than stress about getting a perfectly even, invisible coat over such large areas of solid brass. It's one thing to run a brush over a small handle, and quite another to cover an entire lamp. Besides, I like a bit of patina, to keep this from being too 80's.
Know what brass lamps love? LEATHER CHAIRS. Guess what D and I have? Yup, one of my most prized possessions, a leather club chair from Restoration Hardware (aka Craigslist). You'll need to wait to see our lamp all cleaned up, but here are a few inspiration images to get the idea.