Wednesday, November 14, 2012

It's a miracle! I can see!

I wear glasses. I'm nearsighted, which means I can see things close up better than far away. I have about a two-foot range without glasses then the blobs appear. It's kind of like being close up to a Monet painting. I also have light eyes so I am heavily affected by too bright and dim lights.

My studio is in a room on the back of the house. It was built as a guest room with its own access door to the downstairs bath, but it was perfect for a craft room. What we didn't know was that it is the hottest room in the house in the Summer and already the chilliest this Fall. (We just moved in this past April and haven't spent a Winter here yet.) It is probably safe to assume it will be cold in the Winter. I can handle all of that. Fans, less clothes, more clothes, throw blanket, sweaters. I'm prepared.

What isn't good, is that all Summer I had decent light between my lamps and the Summer sun. As Fall has crept in, and the sun shifted in the sky, I noticed that during the day I was practically pushing my face down to the needle on the machine. And I kept stitching navy thread onto black fabric. One time it was orange onto red. Not good and not the contrast stitching I was going for. And then Daylight Savings Time arrived. And I almost immediately started working more at night so that I "had more light." Utter madness. Then I realized that part of my problem was lighting.

The only rooms in our house that have overhead lighting are the bathrooms, laundry room, pantry, kitchen, diningroom and master bedroom. This is crazy. What do builders have against overhead lighting? I like to see things and not try to sew or read like I'm Abe Lincoln getting my learnin' by candlelight. There are certain modern conveniences I really enjoy: indoor plumbing, whole house heat/air conditioning, washing machines, refrigerators, dishwashers and electricity. And I don't just mean electricity to power things, I mean the ability to produce light. As pretty as the gas lamps in Savannah were, I love a lightbulb.

A funny thing has happened with lightbulbs in the last several years. Maybe longer, I'm not a historian on lightbulbs. In an effort to help the environment and global warming, the industry has started producing bulbs that give off less heat and use less energy. I think that's great, I am all for helping. But the tradeoff is also less light. Now it's not the same as candles, which are dangerous and can burn your house down but often the lighting conditions are about the same. I have been in some people's homes where they compensated by having a gazillion (accurate estimation but not really that many) lamps. So basically they are still using a ton of electricity and giving off the same amount if not more heat. I'm not Edison but that sounds like there's a glitch in the system. The bonus though, is that their bulbs will last longer than a goldfish.

I had such bulbs in my studio. They're referred to as "soft" light. Some stuff about the light being diffused....blah, snore....I still can't see and now I feel like my eyes are degenerating. I noticed that sometimes I was trying to light everything with my tiny Ott light. That poor baby can barely light itself, as much as it tries but it is not a large area lamp. I have two standing floor lamps. The one we all had in college that you screw together except this is the sudo-adult version and not made of meltable plastic. It has a three way setting. And I have one of those wacky standing lamps with five wiggly arms and different colored shades. It was on sale at Target and I needed a lamp, don't judge me. So between the two standing lamps that's SIX "soft" light bulbs. SIX. Which was just not cutting it.

One day, the proverbial lightbulb went on over my head. (Oooh, bad pun Jess. Shame on you.) And I thought, if the Ott light provides such great light then I will get bulbs like that for the other lamps. Yea, those babies are almost $10 a piece, multiply by six. Oh no. I can't justify $60 in lightbulbs no matter how badly I wanted them. So I went to Lowe's.

I really like Lowe's. They make it easy for us to use our military discount. Home Depot made us register and they always have to look up our account when we try to use it. At Lowe's I just show my ID. Novel concept, I know. At Lowe's, I learned there are 652 (give or take) different kinds of lightbulbs. I just stood there dumb-founded as Hubs went to do man things and look at tools. There was a guy there doing the same things and we had the following conversation.

Me: This is ridiculous.
Comrade: I don't even know where to begin.
Me: Remember when there were just watts and you picked the highest one you saw and were done with it?
Fellow Sad Bulb Shopper: I just want light.
FSBS's Toddler: You have red hair like Raggedy Andy.
Me: Do you know anything about lightbulbs?
Mini Person: Red.
Me: That's what I thought.

After what seemed like an eternity a nice Lowe's employee came over and said, "You look like you need help." Also something that NEVER happens in Home Depot. I am usually wondering around looking for someone in an orange apron when I'm there. Lowe's employee asked me what my lighting needs were and proceeded to educate me on the bulbs. He informed me that I should get bulbs labeled Natural Daylight where the package indicates that it produces "cool" light and is 5000K. He said this would mimic the sun at noon. Thank you helpful Lowe's employee. Thank you.

I picked up the Utilitech 4-Pack (60W) Spiral Candelabra Base Daylight (5000K) CFL Bulbs for the sqiggle lamp and a 3-Way of the same type for the other lamp. I took before and after pics with my new camera. I used no filters and no exposure settings. I took pics with the soft white bulbs in and immediately changed them and took pics with the natural daylight bulbs in. The difference is phenomenal. I can see so clearly I want to put them all over the house. I should also point out that these new bulbs are the same wattage as the old ones. So there was no wattage trickery on my part either, just the change between soft white and natural daylight. My other bulbs were also CFL.

You can judge for yourself. These pics were taken at 3pm today. You can see it is also sunny outside. If you click on each pic you can view it larger.

Here is each part of the room with the soft white bulbs.

And here is the glorious after.

Amazed? Me too. I keep going in there to turn the lights on and just look at the difference. I would recommend you all do yourself a favor and get natural daylight bulbs for your work and/or reading area. It is an improvement you should definitely invest in and your eyes will thank you.


  1. Can I like, hug you now? TOTALLY going to Lowe's tonight for new bulbs! My overhead light is a mini fan that takes 25wt mini tear drop bulbs. NOT good for sewing at night.

    1. I'm still amazed at the difference in clarity they provide. And at being able to see true colors, which is important in our line of work!

  2. Wow! Looks great! It's real dark in my workroom too. Ever since we set up a light box with some natural daylight bulbs I constantly steal them to light up the room. Don't think they are as bright as yous but wow it helps!

    1. I was doing that too but the lights to my lightbox get very hot and they say I should only use them for 45 minutes a time. So that was a little scary. Plus there are 4 of them and they each have a plug and I just don't have the outlet space for that!


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