Artful illumination

Combining art and illumination, Bowser resident makes instruments into lamps

Musician Bill Cave admires one of his trumpets crafted into a lamp available from the Salish Sea Market.


The first instrument former band teacher and local trumpet playing legend Bill Cave played now shines brighter than any other baritone horn around. That’s because he made the instrument into a lamp, and it wasn’t the first time.

“My neighbour up at the lake, he made a neat lamp out of a blow torch and I thought, gee that would be neat, I could make a lamp out of an instrument, so I did that with a trumpet,” said Cave. That was about five years ago and now Cave has made lamps out of other instruments like trombones and clarinets and is currently making a saxophone for local musician Phil Dwyer.

Cave’s lamp instruments can be found at the Salish Sea Market in Bowser.

Cave grew up in Vancouver and at age 10 he joined the school band.  This led to him securing a spot in the Kitsilano Boys Band, a prestigious group of young musicians, who Cave accompanied to England when he was 16 years old for a five-month tour.

In 1957 Cave moved to Victoria and joined the Navy, where he took up the trumpet, and after about seven years he moved to Port Alberni to work at the pulp mill as a machinist.  Ten years later he heard a speech that changed his life.  The message was to take your profession and your hobby and switch them, and so Cave became a band teacher.

Cave taught in Port Alberni before teaching at Qualicum Beach Middle School and Parksville Middle School at the same time. He said it worked out nicely.

“When we went on a band trip or had a band concert I didn’t even have to have a mass rehearsal because I taught them both the same way and it just went. It was kinda neat,” he said.

Cave taught at Kwalikum Secondary School when it opened and stayed until he retired 10 years later. After that he worked as a substitute teacher for the next 15 years in Port Alberni, Courtenay and Nanaimo.

Over the years he has played in a number of local bands, including The Cave Men for 20 years and today continues to play in Just Us Dance Orchestra and the BIll Cave Trio.

As a machinist by trade, Cave has all the tools and materials to craft his lamp’s hardwood bases at his home shop, and then he hollows them out and inserts old car disc brakes as a weight. He manages to run wires through the instruments by using magnets and string, in order to make the on-switch for the lamps one of the finger buttons, or other neat locations.

“Threading the trumpets are pretty tricky,” he laughed.

Cave said he enjoys making the lamps as gifts for friends and can be contacted through the Salish Sea Market if people have a certain instrument they want turned into a lamp. His lamps sell at the Salish Sea Market for about $330.

Visit the Salish Sea Market’s Facebook page for directions and more information on the store or call 778-424-2012.


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