July 27, 2015

My New Logo, and How I Got There

Being a craftsperson means I do pretty much everything for my business. It is not only about making the work. There is lots to that goes in to selling, designing, packing and shipping, doing my taxes, maintaining my tools and machines, building my website, and making my work known to the world. That last piece is called "marketing," and it is a category of tasks that might not seem very romantic or interesting, but it absolutely is an important part of making a living doing what I do. And I actually enjoy the challenges of figuring it out.

My marketing involves my website, the craft fairs I show at (only one these days, "Sunapee"), and the postcards I send out to my mailing list twice a year. And an important part of all these things is having a consistent look and feel. That is my "brand" and it is most specifically embodied in my logo.  30 years ago I had a logo made for me that I have used for all these years, but it really didn't work anymore – it was designed before I even made lampshades! So my son Tom, who works in advertising, encouraged me to modernize my brand. That involved my wonderful new website woodsheds.com and also my new logo. Tom's good friend, Jeff Chandler, is an artist, and Jeff volunteered to work with us to come up with the design for the logo.

This took a few months, and many interactions of ideas. Jeff interviewed me, and it was very wide-ranging. We talked about motivation, intention, inspiration, technique, and materials. Then Jeff started sketching in a notebook.  I suspect that Jeff showed us over a hundred ideas. At first Tom and I got to see pages and pages of tiny sketches. As we responded to those and talked about things we liked and didn't like, Jeff started to produce increasingly refined illustrations, in series that depicted lots of minor tweaks and variations. Here are three examples of directions that we eventually abandoned:

The logo that you see at the top of this blog post is the one we eventually and happily settled on. Jeff provided me with the complex Photoshop file, so that I can continue to play with this, and come up with variations for particular purposes. For example, two version that are black and white:

I am impressed with Jeff and his tireless enthusiasm for this project. And the result works perfectly for me. It is distinctive, dramatic and professional. It speaks to the organic shapes that I use in my work, the colors of my lampshades, the origins of the wood in the Aspen leaf shape, and the romance of the light that is indicated by the candle flame shape.

July 19, 2015

Lulu Fichter Collaboration: SeaGlow Table Lamp

Collaboration with other artists has become a regular and inspiring part of my work for the past ten years. The projects I create with David Little of Winnipesauke Forge are a constant and growing design collection – we do several every year. And each year, I co-produce a lamp with an artist who's work I respect, and that seems complementary to my design aesthetic. Recently I have created table lamps with Lauren Pollaro (collage artist), Sharon Dugan (basketmaker), Paula Barry (potter) and Donna Banfield (woodturner and carver).

Improvised Combo of Lamp and Ceramic
I have just completed work on a piece incorporating the work of Lulu Fichter, a ceramic sculptor from Peterborough, NH. You can see her website by clicking HERE. Lulu has exhibited at the League of NH Craftsmen Annual Fair  (aka "Sunapee") for many years, and I have always enjoyed visiting her booth, and appreciating her organic, unique and dramatic sculptural forms. Last August, we began a conversation about how we might join her work with mine. We tried some very initial experiments, and started to see some wonderful possibilities.

We decided to move ahead with an application for the Living With Crafts exhibition at Sunapee 2015. Our proposal was accepted, and we began to figure out how to actually make this lamp.

This Spring, Lulu created a series of forms, and provided me with the three largest ones. Instantly I saw that the one big challenge would be to figure out how to secure the ceramic form to the wood base. Lulu's work is not round, which is what makes is so evocative. But without a round foot on her piece, I had to design an internal orientation/alignment piece that keeps the foot of the clay sculpture exactly where I want it to be.

The finished lamp is absolutely marvelous! The way the warm light shed down over Lulu's open form is fascinating – it really emphasizes the sensuous curves as well as the details around the perforations. The Mahogany column running up the center of the form peaks thru the holes. Soft shadows drape over the ivory-white ceramic material.

The lamp is 29" tall and the shade is 17" diameter.

Because Lulu's sculptures remind me of the corals and sponges in the ocean, we chose the title:
Table Lamp

The finished lamp will be on exhibition from August 1-9 at the League Craft Fair, in the Living With Craft exhibit. Hopefully you will have the chance to see this unique piece.

CLICK HERE for the link to the League's website for info about the big event

July 15, 2015

My Brand New Website

My son Tom works in advertising in NY City, and a few months ago, he let me know that he thought my website was old fashioned, hard to navigate, and it didn't do a good job of representing the quality of my work or my professionalism. It didn't take long for him to convince me that he was right, but I was intimidated by the size of the task required to build a new site. Tom then pointed me to SquareSpace, which I had heard of very often because they sponsor many of the public radio shows and podcasts that I listen to. SquareSpace allows people to build a very attractive and sophisticated website through a web browser, rather than with dedicated software packages that can be very hard to learn. SquareSpace provides some super templates to start with, and they are extremely customizable. And they have terrific customer service, 24/7. I am very impressed with this operation.

The thing that really got me going on this project is that Tom also offered to help me build the site, and he got the ball rolling by creating a first draft on SquareSpace. I immediately liked where he was heading with this, and got excited enough to start participating more actively. It became a very fun and creative collaboration, and SquareSpace makes it easy for both of us to keep making changes from our geographically different locations. Ideas bounced back and forth and improvements were constant.

A month ago, the site was ready enough for "prime time" and I took down my old site and replaced it with the new one. Since then, Tom and I have continued to tweak the functionality and aesthetics of the pages, and with SquareSpace, it really is easy to keep that work going. The improvements at this point will be more incremental. But it is very clear to me that the new site is working very well in all ways. With SquareSpace, I get a lot of information (aka "metrics") about how many people go to my site, and what pages they view. In the four weeks since the site launched, I have had 530 visitors and they have viewed an average of three pages each. That means this has been worth the effort. And I feel sure that many of the visitors are having a good experience on the site. I would very much love to hear back from any and all about their visits to my website. It will get better and better if you help me understand what you want to see there.

I also have a brand new logo, which was made with the help of one of Tom's good friends, Jeff Chandler. That creative process was a remarkable collaboration, and it deserves a blog post all to itself. I hope to write that soon. The new logo shows below at the top of all my web pages.

Here is a snapshot of the new homepage of my site, and after that, what my old site looked like.

The Old Website

July 4, 2015

NH Chronicle Video Piece About My Work

In March, the local ABC affiliate, WMUR, came to my workshop and home to film a piece that was shown on NH Chronicle this Spring. It came out great, and I suspect you will enjoy watching it. It is 8 minutes long, and does a terrific job of capturing how I make the lampshades, and my passion for this work.

Check it out by clicking on this link:

Arc Fixture with Vines and Leaves

One of the very first collaborations I created with David Little was based on a simple horizontal arc shape, with shades suspended below. I think we have made perhaps 6 or 8 pieces based on this single idea. This Spring, we have been working on three new projects that are based on the Arc concept, but take it to new places. We built one that is over a kitchen island near Conway, NH that is called "The Tilted Arc." As the name implies, the Arc is twisted out of the vertical plane, which allows the three small shades that hang from it to follow the shape of the counter. I hope to have pictures of this soon.

We are about to install another Arc-based project that goes over a dining table in Boston. This room has an 11" high ceiling, and to fill that high space, this project had a longer lower arc, and above that is a shorter arc. Again, we should have pictures of this completed piece when it gets installed in late July.

The third project was put up a few weeks ago, and again it is based on the Arc design. But this time it has a unique-to-me ornamentation elements in the form of vines and leaves that wind around the Arc form. This complements other wrought iron pieces in the home that have botanical design elements.

The closeup below shows the elegant and natural way the vine wraps around the Arc shape. And interestingly, the leaves are Aspen leaves, the same wood as the shades are made from. It all goes together and makes sense.

Dave works in this general style very regularly (check out his website to see a lot more of his own work: http://www.irontable.com. This new piece opens up a lot more possibilities for Dave and I, where we integrate both of our design styles in to single projects.

One more interesting part of this Arc With Vines and Leaves project is that the wood for the two outer shades came from the client's own land. Last Autumn, I cut down a tree on their property, and made a total of four shades for them. Two are incorporated in to the project for their kitchen, and two are part of Shepherds Crooks that hang over their bed. I love projects like this, where there is a sense of alpha-to-omega, there is a history of the wood that begins at the tree.

March 5, 2015

Variations on a Theme: Six Prairie Style Fixtures

My blacksmith collaborator Dave Little and I have created over 30 projects together. Some are part of a series that we have come to call the "Prairie Style" lighting fixtures. That refers to an Arts and Craft style that was epitomized by Frank Lloyd Wright's work. The first piece we made in this style was actually sketched out for us by an architect for a client on Lake Sunapee. The concept was a departure for Dave and I, since all our other pieces had incorporated sweeping arc lines.  

This fixture provides the lighting for an 8' long dining table, so the shades are very large, about 18" diameter. 

The next project that we got that utilized this basic idea is installed in a beautiful new home near Lake Tahoe, and the fixture provides the illumination for a 12' long barter that divides the living area from the kitchen. I worked with the renowned interior designer Jacques St. Dizier to refine the design.  The three shades are each about 13" across.

This past Fall, we made a Prairie Style fixture for a house in New London, and this one incorporated a new design feature. The major horizontal element is curved, so it provides a historical connection with the other projects that Dave and I have collaborated on. The shades on this are particularly dramatic with streaks and even some really interesting insect tunnels. This table is smaller, and the shades are about 15" diameter.

Also this Fall, we made a fixture for a home on Squam Lake. The dark ceiling makes it hard to photograph, but "in person," the effect of this fits exactly with the modern feel of the cottage. The shade on the left is a single chandelier over the kitchen island, and the Prairie Style fixture is suspended over a long narrow dining table. The shades are about 15" diameter, and are "pendant style," meaning the wide rim is facing downwards. One thing that is different about this installation is that the ceiling is high, so we have much longer vertical cubes extending from the ceiling to the cross-bars.

As you can see from the chronology of these projects, this Prairie Style design is catching on fast with my clients. In December, I installed the fifth iteration of the design in a rebuilt home in New London. If you look closely at the top, you will see that I created a solid wood "wedge" piece that creates a flat attachment point on the sloped ceiling.

The sixth iteration of the Prairie Style concept is a radical departure, and is going to be built in the next few weeks (not sure when the installation will occur). As you can see from this drawing, all the rectilinear lines and negative spaces have been curved, and it will create a fantastic effect of organic flow and soaring lines. This home sits on a hilltop in Henniker, NH, and the dining room has a wall of windows facing south towards the Pats Peak ridge. I feel wanted the design to complement the panoramic view of the hills and now I am tempted to nickname this piece "Highlands," because it resonates with the feeling I have had in the Scottish Highlands. Other than the obvious aspect of the curved steel lines, this design also has different sized shades, configured in an arc that compliments the metalwork.

As you can see, a single overall concept can lead to a constantly evolving series of pieces for clients, each tailored to the environment of the house and the functional needs for illumination. It is part of the fun of doing this work – the creativity is endless and fruitful, the results of all this effort making such a huge difference in the lives of people.

March 1, 2015

Fresh Logs and Aged Logs

My last post was about the delivery of wonderful new logs. After I wrote that, I thought it might be worth explaining more about how and why I keep so many logs on hand.

When I first started making my lampshades almost 25 years ago, I always worked with freshly cut logs. That is what was available – in fact the first shades were from a tree right behind my garage. When I got wood from someone else, usually I would go cut down a single tree, cut that in to 20-24" sections, roll those out of the woods and on to my flatbed trailer. It was a huge physical effort, and I would work very hard to use all the sections of the tree pretty quickly. If I waited too long, there might be cracks that would form on the ends, making them unusable. The shades I made this way were essentially yellow in color, with beautiful annual ring patterns.

"Clear-look" Mini-Pendant
That method worked when I was 40 years old, and making 20-40 shades per year. And it worked because I was only making small-to-medium sized shades. But even then, I gradually started to notice that if I left a section of log in a moist and shady place for a month or two, some hints of dark streaks would show in the wood. That looked so cool, and I also noticed that my clients like it more.  I started to buy whole logs from loggers and foresters. They would usually be delivered to me on a "cherry picker," which is the logging trucks you see with the big articulating grappling arm on the top. This is much easier on my physically, and it allowed me to obtain some beautiful logs, including some really big ones. I quickly discovered that I could keep and "age" these logs for any months, sometimes even over a year. And the results were spectacular:
Moderately streaked shade, perhaps aged 5 months

This shade was aged over a year, and has insect tunnels caused by little ants
Here is the difference in what the logs look like. The first image is a freshly cut log, the second one is a log that is aged for about a year. 
A freshly cut log
Log that was aged for about 12 months
You might think that the aging of the logs would make them dry out, but actually it is only the few inches on the ends of the logs that get dry, the rest of the log is still soaking wet after many months. And that wetness of the wood attracts fungi, which is what creates the streaked patterns in the wood. After I make the lampshade, the wood dries out completely, and the fungi dies away, only the beauty of the random "artwork" of these microscopic organism remains. Of course if I wait too long, the aging process will become destructive of the wood. The fungus will eventually start to rot the wood. 

It is an amazing process. I have very little control over what the streaking will look like. I only know that it will happen if I am patient and attentive. As is so evident in our world, nature is remarkable!

February 27, 2015

New Logs, Hooray!

I get the Aspen logs for my lampshades from several local loggers and foresters, but mainly from Jack Bronnenberg (the logger for the Society of NH Forests and Proctor Academy) and Scott Astle who manages Green Crow's Log Yard in Andover, NH. Green Crow specializes in veneer quality logs, meaning logs with zero defects. And over the last few years, Scott has learned exactly what kind of logs I want, and he really came through this week.

Monday I went to the log yard and Scott showed me a wonderful selection of Aspen logs that I could pick from. Every log was a first cut. That means it is the part of the tree closest to the ground, and that in turn means fewer knots and defects. In fact every log he showed me was perfect, no evidence of knots at all. I was like a kid in a candy store... and I had to restrain myself from asking for more logs than I actually can use. I ended up choosing 16 logs, and today they were delivered and carefully placed on my "cribs" (the platforms where the logs will live until I use them. It was quite a project shoveling snow off of these cribs, in some places it was 3+ feet deep.

I will use a small amount of this wood in the next few months, but mostly these logs will wait and age and become more beautiful over time. I will use more of the new wood during the summer, and definitely this will be where I am choosing pieces of log for the shades I make this coming Autumn and next winter. I have to plan a year or more in advance to make sure I have logs with the best colors and features. 

In the meantime, I will be making most of my shades from the logs I got last Spring and Winter. They were buried in snowdrifts, so Adam, the skillful log truck operator, moved them around for me today. No they are all together and easy to get at. The logs on the right are the older ones.

Thanks Scott for looking after me and finding these fantastic logs.

February 18, 2015

NH Chronicle is doing a piece about me!

In New Hampshire, we have only three mainstream TV stations, and by far the biggest is Channel 9, WMUR in Manchester. They produce a daily show called NH Chronicle that airs right after the nightly news at 7pm, it is a hugely popular and well-produced show. Today they spent three hours in my workshop and home, filming for an 8 minute segment that will be shown in about two weeks. I just found out the air-date is this coming Thursday, March 5 at 7pm, and soon after that, the segment will be available on the WMUR website.

Audrey Cox is the reporter, and Chris worked very hard on the videography. Thanks to them for spending so much time and asking such good questions, and trying to get the right shots to illustrate the information. It will be fun to see how they edit down the huge quantity of footage in to something only 8 minutes long.

July 7, 2014

Light Bulbs..... save money, save the planet!

NOTE: This is a pamphlet I created to hand out to lamp buyers and everyone else

The History and Future of Light Bulbs
July 2014, Peter Bloch

Incandescent Bulbs: dinosaurs of the lighting world
The last ten years have seen a huge shift in the world of light bulbs. We used to all use incandescent bulbs. They were inexpensive, available everywhere, and were made in a wide variety of styles and brightness. The only trouble is, they were terribly inefficient – only 5% of the electricity consumed by incandescent bulbs is converted in to light. The rest becomes heat. This horrible wastefulness was expensive to the pocketbook and to the carbon footprint of the entire electrical grid. 

The importance of ridding our world of incandescents is why the government has banned some types. You can no longer buy incandescents under 100 watts, unless they are specialized bulbs like 3-ways or spotlights. There is an alternative called halogen bulbs, but they are not much more efficient than the incandescents. 

CFL Bulbs: efficient but unattractive lighting
The first type of energy efficient replacement bulbs were the Compact Fluorescents, also known as CFLs. These usually have a spiral shape because they are basically like the long straight fluorescent light bulbs in those ceiling fixtures, just made smaller and curled around in a tight curve. They are much more efficient (about 15%) than incandescent bulbs, and although they are usually 5-10 times the cost of the incandescents, they can pay for themselves in a year or two because of the greater efficiency. CFL bulbs have a lot of advantages, but some downsides.  The most important is that the color of the light that the bulbs emit is not very attractive. They tend towards the pale green or blue. While that color shift is not completely obvious, if you compare two lamps, one with incandescent and one with CFL, you will instantly see the difference. Most people do not like the feel of being around CFL bulbs.

Other problems are that CFL bulbs have small amounts of mercury in them, making them an environmental hazard if they are broken or improperly disposed of. Also, they don’t instantly illuminate to their peak brightness, so when you first turn a CFL on, it seems dim. Most CFLs are not dimmable, and those that are supposed to be, do a terrible job of it. Finally, CFL bulbs are rated for a wattage-equivalent to incandescent bulbs, but my perception is that this calculation is inflated. Overall, CFL bulbs are good for efficiency, but a fairly poor substitute for the wonderful warm light of the old fashioned incandescents.

LED bulbs are the future of lighting
Over the past few years, a new type of bulb has been introduced. They are called LEDs, which stands for Light Emitting Diode. At first, they were extremely expensive, and the color of the light tended to be bluish. Also most LEDs were designed for spot lights. Even when some of the LEDs came to market to be used in screw-in fixtures like table and floor lamps, they had shapes that didn’t provide light that evenly spread all around. That is a desirable characteristic known as being “omnidirectional,” and in my translucent wood lampshades, it is crucial. Also, LEDs were not bright enough to be used in my lamps. The good news is that LED bulbs are even more energy efficient than CFLs. And the technology keeps advancing, with increased efficiency.

CREE Brand LEDs, my recommendation!
In the past year, one company has come up with solutions to almost all of the issues with CFL and earlier LED bulbs. The company is CREE, they make bulbs that are manufactured in this country and they are a very big company with history of making specialized LEDs for factories, etc. When they put their mind to designing “regular” LED light bulbs, they came up with some wonderful solutions. CREE bulbs use 18% of the energy, compared to incandescents. They don’t get warm, because all the juice goes in to making light! Better yet, CREE LEDs are dimmable. Just make sure you have a dimmer switch that is designed for LEDs. 

CREE bulbs are now available in 60, 75 and 100 watt equivalents, and they just started making 3-way 100 watt equivalents. My hope and expectation is that they will soon be making 150 watt equivalents, which is the brightness I suggest for many of my lamps. CREE bulbs that are labeled “soft white” emit a wonderful color of light, basically exactly like the old incandescents. They are shaped very similarly to the old bulbs, and are truly omnidirectional. They almost last forever (rated for 23 years, guaranteed for 10). They contain no mercury. They are easy to buy, Home Depot is a major reseller. As of this writing, Home Depot sells the bulbs for these prices:
  • 40 or 60 watt: $10
  • 75 watt: $16
  • 100 watt: $21
  • 100 watt 3-way: $22
That may seem like a lot to spend for a light bulb. But if you use a light for 3 hours a day, the savings from using an LED bulb will pay for the bulb in just one year. After that, it is all savings directly to your wallet… for TWENTY YEARS!

Some CREE bulbs are available through subsidy programs run by many electricity providers, which make much less expensive. A 60 watt equivalent bulb is only $3. In NH, you can check nhsaves.com. Elsewhere, ask your electric company. Right now, the ones available tend to be the lower wattage CREE bulbs, but I expect the others to be in these subsidy programs soon. With these subsidy plans, switching to CREE LEDs is a no-brainer!

Where is this heading?
The only remaining downside to the wonderful CREE bulbs is that they max out at 100 watts. But I have observed this company coming up with many new products in a short period of time, so I am confident that we will see 150 watt equivalent CREE bulbs in the near future, and when we do, I will be completely weened off of incandescents. Until then, I still provide my larger lampshades with incandescent bulbs. I hope that is a situation that is remedied soon.

There are other types of bulbs technologies in development – perhaps LEDs are not the end of the road. But these CREE bulbs are everything we want from a light bulb, and I recommend them very highly. Wherever in your home that you have a bulb that has an equivalent CREE bulb, I hope you invest in the future of your checkbook AND the health of the planet by making the change soon. 

Questions? Send me an email and I will try to be helpful,

Peter Bloch peterbloch@woodshades.com, www.woodshades.com

January 22, 2014

Equipment Bummers

Sometimes, I get slowed down because my body is uncooperative. And sometimes, it is my equipment that fails me. That happens much less often than body issues, because I have top notch tools and machines, and maintain them well. And usually if something breaks down, I can get it up and running very quickly.

My work generally is not very dependent on machines. Obviously, the lathe is crucial; to a lesser extent my sharpening system and my chainsaw are important. Since the emphasis of my work is hand-crafting, most of the other machines here are useful, but I can keep working without them.

One machine operates in the background: my Ingersoll-Rand T-30 vertical 80 gallon, two-stage, 5 horsepower compressor. It is tucked away in a closet of my workshop, so I don't really see or hear it very much. I use the compressed air to:
  • blast air through the side-walls of my wet lampshades to dry particular areas
  • force the dust and shavings from inside the shades while I am carving
  • clean the shop every day by blasting forced air into all the nooks and crannies
  • blow off the shavings and dust from my clothes before I go back to the house
  • operate some hand-held sanding tools
Writing out that list, it doesn't seem like such a big deal; but it turns out I am practically helpless without the compressed air. This beautiful, simple machine has run faultlessly for 18 years. It is connected to a well-designed distribution system (the network of pipes and hoses that deliver the compressed air to the places I need it).

Three weeks ago, the air compressor made a very loud clunking noise that I could hear at the opposite end of my workshop, and then proceeded to shut itself down. I figured I could easily find someone to repair it – for example, the company that sold it to me those many years ago. But it turns out they are out of business, and it took a remarkable amount of research to find an alternative. Finally I did find an air compressor repair specialist in Southern NH, and two days later a tech was here. He diagnosed the problem, ordered some parts, came back two days later and 'fixed' it. Except it still didn't work. So he took the motor back to the shop, they did something simple to it and brought it back, and it worked. For one day. So then he said the entire motor needed to be replaced. And that took a couple more days.

So then it is working again, and I am out of pocket $1400+. Which is not a happy situation, since a brand new compressor would be around $2500, but I am happy to be back to work for three days. Then this morning, it breaks down again. Lots of loud noises, and the compressor has shaken so much that it has "walked" a few inches across the floor.

Eventually, this thing will be fixed. The repair company is apologetic, is not going to charge me for labor or mileage any more. I have no idea at this point if they are incompetent or if I am just unlucky. But I am frustrated. I have a backlog commissions to be working on, and I am at a stand-still. I have run out of projects that can be done without the compressed air. I have done my the work of preparing for tax season, at least a month earlier than I usually do. And look – I am adding something to my blog! So all that is good. And I am stuck in neutral.

FRUSTRATION RULES TODAY. Hopefully I will soon be back to the work I love.

November 17, 2013

Remains of the Day

You may have heard me talk or write about how I make my shades from these big log sections, sometimes weighing as much as 250 pounds when I start, and ending up around a pound or less. Even the smallest shades begin as 70 pound chunks, and when I am done with all the carving, there is only few ounces. Have you ever wondered about what happens to the other 99% of the log? 

The rest of the log becomes:
  • slabs from using a chainsaw to cut off the corners of the log
  • shavings, shavings, shavings
  • a cone-shaped piece that comes out of the center of the log
  • a round piece, flat on top and bottom, that comes from the other end
The picture at the right shows the slabs. I cut off these parts before bringing the log chunk in to the shop for two reasons. One is that it makes the piece lighter, easier to manage and lift. But the more important reason is that I get an early look inside the log. Sometimes I discover a hidden defect that means I will not use that piece of wood. Other times, I see the hint of a grain pattern that can be featured by choosing a particular shape for the shade. The slabs end up in my organic, long-term composting pile behind my garage.

Most of the log ends up in shavings, produced by carving away the wood on the lathe, little bit at a time. I am using hand-held gouges, and there are no shortcuts. If the log started out at 200 pounds, there are probably 175 pounds of shavings, and when they are cut away from the log, they get bigger! The pile of you see in the second picture is from making four medium sized lampshades. I haul these out of the shop in a big Garden Way cart. Some of them go in to a compost pile used in our gardens, and the rest go out in to that giant pile behind the garage, filling in between the slabs mentioned above. People ask me all the time about alternative uses for these shavings, like animal bedding or burning for heat. The problem is that the shavings are straight from the log, and very wet - not at all suitable for the proposed alternatives. The fact that they get turned in to compost, returned in to the ground from which the tree grew, is a use that seems very appropriate and environmentally sound.

There are two solid chunks of wood that come from the turning process. On the medium and larger sized shades, I remove a cone shaped piece from the center of the wide end of the shade. Most people would assume that this is a time saver, but the real purpose for leaving the column of wood inside the log for the first phase is that it helps ergonomically. The cone/column provides a point where I can touch the "tailstock" of the lathe to the heavy, spinning log. That greatly reduces vibration in the wood and my body as I rough away the waste wood. 

The other end of the log is attached to the lathe with a faceplate, which is a thick flat disk of steel through which long screws embed in to the wood. When the shade is completely made, the only part left on the lathe is that round chunk. I stack these parts up to make interesting towers that I call "totem poles." Some of these are taken away by my clients, others are in our gardens, and some have ended up at the local elementary school, utilized by the art classes to make fun sculptures, decorated with colored markers.

In the end, what matters most is that the big chunk of log is made in to the remarkable lampshade. There is a lot of leftover material. But it would be a mistake to focus on this as wasteful and environmentally suspect. Remember, these shades are made out of Aspen wood, a kind of wood that is considered a junk species from a forestry point of view. It is never made in to lumber, it is not desirable for firewood. One of the many things I love about my work is that I am taking such an unloved species and making well-crafted pieces of artwork that serve a function, and are deservedy loved by their owners.