Shining a light: Oak Parker Dominic Sibilano works at his family-owned chandelier shop, Sibilano Chandeliers, in Chicago. Dominic recently began apprenticing for his father, Angelo, who has been in the chandelier business for nearly 20 years.Photos by J. GEIL/Photo Editor

Walking into Sibilano Chandeliers at 5727 W. Belmont in Chicago is like entering the secret Cave of Wonders from Aladdin, all shimmering and such.

Hanging from the ceiling and walls are about 100 glittering, handcrafted chandeliers and sconces. These specialty light fixtures are designed and crafted with care by Angelo and Dominic Sibilano, a father and son partnership from Oak Park that has been peddling one-of-a-kind configurations of custom chandeliers to residences and hotel banquet halls for nearly two decades.

With an artistic eye for all that sparkles, the Sibilanos are counting on the inherent attraction to old world, or more modern, elegance to build up current business.

Currently filling their medium-sized showroom, just off Austin Boulevard are all shapes, sizes and forms of intricate show pieces, including an Austrian Sworovski crystal dangling from a solid brass, 24-karat gold-plated frame.

In all, Angelo speculates, it has taken him about 20 years to fill the store with product. From design to build and completion of a chandelier it takes either one week or an entire year. If something isn’t just right, Angelo, a self-described perfectionist, will take a chandelier apart, and start all over again.

“People who buy these just like chandeliers,” says Dominic, a 1998 Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate who joined his father after earning a degree in business from St. Norbert’s College in Wisconsin in 2002. He recently started apprenticing with Angelo and has already designed two modern-looking chandeliers. Angelo tends to design traditional light fixtures.

Sometimes customers come in with just an idea, and Angelo and Dominic help design a concept.

“We just made three really large chandeliers for a big banquet hall up north, and actually, I have in my bathroom a chandelier with a wall sconce,” says Dominic, who still calls Oak Park home. “It’s just nice to have a touch of luxury anywhere you can put it.”

One of a kind

As far as Angelo and Dominic know, Sibilano Chandeliers is the only chandelier shop in Chicago to have anything for sale like they do, especially since the duo design the frames, buy the crystals from Austria themselves, and piece each fixture together, always from the inside out.

“It’s an art,” explains Dominic. “You learn more about it by just absorbing it than anything I can put my finger on … seeing how the crystals should fall on the chandelier, and seeing how the frame should line up, and then, of course, seeing how to add your own design to it.”

Angelo, who was born and raised in southern Italy, came to the U.S. at the age of 17. After graduating from Steinmetz High School he started working in his uncle’s store, originally opened in 1924 as an Italian furniture business. The business was passed on to Angelo in 1970. The handcrafted chandeliers came in a while after that.

“It started, [as an] unusual situation because I taught myself how to do this,” Angelo says. “About 20 years ago business was very quiet and we had a really bad winter in January, and I had a lot of time on my hands. I had some unfinished frames, and I had some crystals. So, it took me about a week to make my first chandelier.”

When he put that chandelier on the sales floor, it sold within three days. Angelo was dumbfounded, since he had designed the fixture from spare parts and the customer agreed to pay him $850.

“Twenty years ago, $850 was a lot of money,” he remembers, “and because I sold it so quick is really how this all evolved.”

Now, the Sibilano’s chandeliers range in price from $295 to $595, depending on whether or not it’s a wall sconce or a medium-sized creation. The large, majestic light fixtures primed for a banquet hall or the foyer of a mansion can cost up to $25,000.

In recent months business has picked up a bit, but when the economy fully rebounds, the Sibilanos are anticipating sales to increase significantly. A second location sits at 9511 N. Milwaukee Ave., in Niles, but they recently were forced to close their third store in Addison to consolidate.

The art of it all

At the back of Sibilano Chandeliers is housed a tinkering workshop where on a table, and hanging from the ceiling are frames in some state of completion, or done and ready to take apart and start all over again, or of course, ready to hang and hopefully sell.

“My wife Helena passed away a year ago, so I’m just taking it easy, coming in three to four times a week,” Angelo says, while petting their dog Copper, who has become the store’s mascot. “In Europe, crystal chandeliers have been around since the 13th century, before electricity. They used candles back then. We just have to stay the course. Crystal will never go out.”

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Deb Quantock McCarey

Deb Quantock McCarey is an Illinois Press Association (IPA) award-winning freelance writer who has worked with Wednesday Journal Inc. since 1995, writing features and special sections for all its publications....