January 27, 2006

The Apple Blossom Lamp

It has been a while since I have posted to this blog. First I was so busy with fall work.... and more recently I have been quite involved with a complicated commission. That is what I want to talk about today. This new piece is quiet remarkable in several ways. First of all, it started way back last spring, when some clients came by my studio to buy a lamp. While here, they began to discuss a potential new project, and by the time they left, we had some initial drawings. But the concepts involved in this piece as so different from anything I have done before that I aked if they could be patient until business slowed down after Christmas. That was a lot to ask of them, but their patience paid off, I think. The resulting creation need that extra time to develop in my mind.

Here is an attempt to describe the piece verbally, in case the picture in this blog entry is unclear. If you think of my wall sconces, and then assemble five of them together, so that the small ends are all bunched together and the five shades radiate out from a central hub. The whole construction is mounted to a circular disk and that in turn is designed to mount to the ceiling. Each shade holds a 60 watt bulb, giving a total of 300 watts. At the open end of each shade I have installed a semicircular cutout from a shade, so that there is a translucent end cap which is spaced away from the shade so that there is some light spilling out. That in turn creates an interesting pattern of light and shadow on the ceiliing as the light from each shade intersects with it's neighboring shade. The central hub is turned and hollowed out so that there is a place to join all the wires, and that is covered with turned lid, much like one of my lidded bowls.

An amazing coincidence occured with this design. Once I had drawn the initial sketches, my clients pointed out that the piece bore a striking resemblance to an apple blossom, and that they had a very special connection and appreciation for apples. Since my crab apple tree was in flower, I was able to go pick a blossom and see how similar my drawing was to this natural form.

Building this lamp has been a bit of a trial. There were so many aspects to figure out. for example, the geometry of the junction between the narrow end of the shade and the curved side of the turned central hub was something I could only devise by carefully imagining the 3D aspects of the parts and then some trial and error. And the system for mounting all the parts to each other and to the circular plaque was confusing to me until I figured it out. Of course like so many things, now that the piece is done, it all seems obvious. But along the way I had many choices to make.

I am thrilled with the results. In the next week or two, the clients will pick up the piece and once it is installed, I will get a photo of the room with the Apple Blossom filling the space with bright and warm light. There is a good chance that you will get to see some variation on the Apple Blossom at the Sunapee show in August (see my web site for details), since I have submitted this concept for the Living With Crafts exhibition.