Thursday, 21 February 2013 12:02

Two If By Sea Gallery Brings Lighting Back to Life

By Patricia Older | Business

BALLSTON SPA – As the poem about Paul Revere’s ride goes, if the British were coming by land, one light would be shone from the church steeple, but if by sea, there would be two lights and Revere would ride off into the darkness to warn the countrymen of what to expect. 


While Greg Tkal’s Two If By Sea Gallery does not have one of those historic lamps, it has much, much more, offering a vast array of vintage lamps, chandeliers and lighting fixtures. 

“I take antique and vintage pieces and restore them,” said Tkal, who followed a dream to open his own lighting restoration shop.

Tkal opened Two If By Sea Gallery last April, breaking out on his own after years working for other vintage restoration and reproduction lighting companies. The name of the shop comes from Tkal’s and his wife’s love of sailing and history, incorporating it with the poem about Paul Revere’s ride where two lanterns would be placed in the Old North Church if the British were coming by sea.

“I started off as a stained glass artist,” explained Tkal, noting that his love of art keeps him rooted in how he approaches his work. “I love art.”

He began his career 25 years ago when he went to work in a Williamstown, Massachusetts shop where he made lamps, mirrors and stained glass windows for customers worldwide. When it closed, serendipity led him to a lighting shop that specialized in lighting reproductions for Hollywood movies, dignitaries and celebrities. 

“We worked directly with museums and curators to reproduce the light fixtures,” said Tkal, adding the pieces were “sold all over the country and world.”

One of the fixtures hanging in his shop was reproduced from a museum piece to be used in the movie Amistad and another was used in The Patriot. The latter, he explained, was reproduced from a light fixture hanging in a home in historic Deerfield, Massachusetts. 

Learning the tedious and delicate process to reproduce a lighting fixture from an antique or vintage piece, in itself, is an art. 

“There are many aspects to consider – the size, shape and finishes all have to match,” said Tkal. “Each [reproduction] creates separate details and elements and they have to be accurate.”

While he does not do as many reproductions as in the past, Tkal uses his knowledge of historic lights, lamps and sconces to take the antique and vintage lighting pieces he finds and restore them. 

“Each fixture is carefully restored and rewired to meet modern needs and requirements,” said Tkal, whose wife, Melissa, is an interior decorator. “We can also create custom fixtures using new and vintage parts to make pendants, chandeliers and other lighting.” 

Walking into the shop, there is a home-like feeling, with ceiling fixtures amply spaced, wall sconces spread throughout and furniture set in a warm and inviting way. 

“I wanted to make it comfortable – like walking in to a home,” said Tkal, pointing out that many of the light fixtures were from the turn of the century, but that they also carried pieces from the Art Deco period, Colonial and mid-century. “When you walk into a lighting fixture store there are hundreds hanging from the ceilings – this allows you to see each piece better. It is all interesting in an old way.”

Pointing to a large and elaborate ornate brass and crystal chandelier made in Spain around 1920, Tkal said finding fixtures like it is akin to a treasure hunt. 

“I find them at auctions, antique sales, attics and basements,” said Tkal, adding that the fixture had all its original crystals but entirely new wiring. 

Tkal’s store is more than a lighting store though. In addition to the light pieces he offers for sale, he does restorations for clients as well as creating custom pieces. He also has reproduction light bulbs to keep the historic feel and look, as well as dozens of glass shades of all colors, shapes and sizes. 

In addition, there are unusual pieces to draw in the antique seekers, such a pair of stirrups resembling brass clogs that were made for a conquistador soldier, original lighthouse lamps and a pair of oversized sconces from the late 1700s. 

Measuring about 30 inches tall and 18 inches wide, each sconce holds three candles and is fashioned from a single sheet of brass. 

When he finds pieces that are incomplete, such as individual lamp shapes, wall light coverings and crystals, Tkal takes them and fashions them into custom designed pendants that hang above kitchen islands, over dining room tables and in hallways. 

As for the crystals, Tkal said they also had a number of decorative uses. 

“They are great for your window or Christmas tree,” he said. 

With ceiling fixtures, table lamps and sconces spread throughout the shop, Tkal said he worked hard to make the pieces beautiful and like pieces of art for his clients. 

“We keep it looking like the period [it was originally made] but it is up to date,” said Tkal. “Two If By Sea is more than a lighting store – it lets people bring a little history into their homes.”


Two If By Sea, 91 Milton Avenue, Ballston Spa, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. or by appointment. Call (518) 496-4650 for more information. 


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