I wanted to love Lighting Bug light fixtures. I assumed I’d love them. I bought six without trying them out by purchasing a sample light. But when I installed them, or tried, I didn’t love them. Or, mostly not. But also, I did. Would I buy them again? Yes. Thus begins the tale of my complex relationship with Lighting Bug, Ltd.
Lighting Bug is an American manufacturer of dollhouse lighting based in Crossville, Tennessee. They have been in business since 1976, so clearly they have a fanbase. Yet, for all of their history and customers’ apparent appreciation, they seem to be a part of a secret dollhouse society. I found no evidence of rave reviews or enthusiastic photos of their products installed in projects. Even the company doesn’t brag about its work. They have a pretty barebones Web site, which does not include a showcase, and offers no advice or insight.
I found Lighting Bug through online searches, specifically, “dollhouse lights made in USA.” I have a strong preference for American-made products, whether for hobbies or everyday use. I can find dollhouses made here, and, with the help of Etsy, furniture and some accessories. But, not electrical. Cir-Kit appears to be the leader in dollhouse lighting and light fixtures, and from what I can see, they manufacture pretty much exclusively in China.
Due to its American roots, I decided Lighting Bug would be my go-to electrical source, so I purchased everything needed for the Westville in advance. But two things changed my plan. First, the company has a high price point. As the build proceeded, I wasn’t loving it, thus didn’t want to invest more than was necessary. Second, my order took several weeks to arrive. By that point, I had finished the Westville and moved onto my next project, the Rye.
The lights were pretty, but right off, there was a problem. The wire and bulb had come loose from one of the ceiling fixtures. Later, I found the company warns of this possibility during shipment, but it gave the appearance of poor workmanship. I glued it together, tested all of the lights, and set them aside.
A few weeks later, I began the install with an Edison bulb for the front porch. I got off to a bad start when, after four tries, the bulb failed to light. Along the way, I tried switching from grommets to brads, and then moved to different sections along the tapewire, even though the line tested positive. It finally worked after a few more goes. The next light, a ceiling fixture, went in smoothly, but failed the next day. I rewired it, and it worked, although, it occasionally dims/brightens. The third install, the one I had glued back into place, failed outright. As I had no way of troubleshooting it post-installation, I pulled it down and replaced it with a Cir-Kit ceiling fixture I had available.
At this point, I was ready to throw the remaining lights in the trash and go back to Cir-Kit, but I had three more Lighting Bug products already in my supply. If they failed, I hadn’t lost anything. If they worked, great. To my amazement, the two wall sconces went in smoothly and lit after the first try. The sixth, a hanging light, didn’t work out in the design.
So, now we’re back to the complex relationship: after getting so much grief from these bad-boyfriends of the lighting world, why would I go back for more? Because my track record with Cir-Kit is equally spotty. Because learning curves are real, and I am on the verge of breaking the Lighting Bug code. Because I don’t like to walk away from failure. Because they’re beautiful and unique and add luxury to mini homes. Because they’re American-made by a small, family-owned business and that matters.
If I can have a complex relationship with the supplier of my dollhouse lights, imagine my personal life. Which explains my very limited circle of patient, understanding, and long-suffering friends.