Minnesotan To Meet: Machine Age Lamps’ Shawn Carling

September 08 2016 Written by Shawn Carling

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Tuesday is a busy day for a lot of people whowork at the fair. It’s time to pack up and start thinking about next year.

Shawn Carling has had a booth at the Minnesota State Fair for three years now at the West End market, but it’s how Carling takes us all back in time that makes him a Minnesotan to Meet.

Just a few steps away from the Blue Barn is where Shawn Carling’s fair booth, Machine Age Lamps, is perched.

He calls the Great Minnesota Get-Together a great place to meet and greet customers from across the state.

“It’s exposure. We’re local. We’re based in Lakeville, Minnesota,” Carling said.

After working in Best Buy stores and headquarters for over two decades Carling decided it was finally time to trade in electronics for something a little more old school.

“I started this, I built one for my dad for Christmas one year, and Best Buy offered an early retirement and I accepted it,” Carling said.

From there he went to work, looking for pieces of treasure a lot of times in the trash, pretty soon his collection began to grow and so did his business.

“You have to dig through a lot of junk to find something you like,” Carling said. “We started doing this out of our house. The first two years were out of the garage and we had three stalls and our garage was full.”

Now, he has a large shop and showroom in Farmington, where you can find things like repurposed farming equipment.

“The gear on the bottom is the base of an old John Deere tractor,” Carling said.

Or bright red fire hydrants that act as a base for his latest lamp.

“1920 solid brass steam gauge, we always tell people it could have been on the titanic,” he said, pointing at another lamp.

And sometimes finding those perfect pieces is a lot like finding a ship at the bottom of the ocean.

“That’s the hard part, I always tell people it’s 95 percent of the battle trying to find the good stuff,” he said.

For Carling, the thrill of hunt is what keeps so engaged in the process.

“A gage like this I can only find a couple of these a year, this one here is about 1895,” Carling said.

To some old plane, auto-parts, and piping is just junk, but to Carling it lights up his latest creation.