ILLUMINATING the Past
Cottages and Bungalows|FMD Christmas 21
Tru-Tone Bulbs captures nostalgia with modern Christmas lights.
SEAN MICHAEL HUNT

CHRISTMAS LIGHTING THAT EVOKES THE SPIRIT OF A BYGONE ERA IS HARD TO ACHIEVE. Christmas lights in recent years have primarily focused on modern technologies with options like color-changing LEDs and laser projectors. Sure, older big, colorful light bulbs are still around. You can find them at yard sales and online auction sites and maybe in a cardboard box in the basement. You can even find replacement bulbs for them if you know where to look. But incandescent C7 and C9 bulbs come with an array of problems: They’re blazingly hot, hazardous and require massive amounts of energy. While a few LED versions of these bulbs have recently become available, none of them manage to get all the details right. Plastic enclosures, “off” colors and bluish light sources always leave them with a cold, dim, electronic look.

Tru-Tone, a small company based in Michigan, is working to change that. For years Tru-Tone founder David Andora had been scouring the big-box and online stores for authentic-looking LED big bulbs to no avail. He recognized the components to make these lights were out there but had yet to be put together in the right combination by large manufacturers. David knows what he’s talking about—he’s been a magician, puppeteer and nightclub circus performer. He’s designed elaborate themed environments for special events, created props for drag queens, window displays for Marshall Fields and numerous award-winning parade floats. David lived and worked in Chicago for many years, building a stellar reputation and a venerable client list that includes historic destinations Shedd Aquarium and the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.

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