July 19, 2009

Visual Narrative of Collaborative Floor Lamp with Ted Blachly

Ted is a fantastic furniture maker, and this year we decided to collaborate on a floor lamp for Living With Crafts at the Sunapee Fair. He started with a concept that was something I would call "refined folk art, with a fairly literal vision of an african woman, colorfully painted. After creating a half-size model and decorating it, he decided to go to a more abstract and elegant plan made out of Mahogany, with a Wenge base plinthe. Ted has given it the name "Zuri," which he says means "beautiful" in Swahili.

Below you can see a series of photos that Ted took as he progressed thru models to finished pieces, and ending with a shot I took yesterday of the complete shade and base combination. On Tuesday it gets delivered to the exhibit, along with my pair of collaborative table lamps with Sharon Dugan, and my dining table hanging light fixture titled "Le Grand Jete."

Come see this unusual piece of woodworking at the Living With Crafts exhibition in Newbury, NH at the oldest craft fair in the country, the League of NH Craftsmen's Annual Fair, August 1-9.

June 12, 2009

New Focus on New Lamp Bases

What I am most known for are my translucent wood lampshades. After making them for 16 years, I have no less passion about making the shades. In fact for the past month or so, my energy level has increased, and I find myself working longer hours and chomping at the bit to get in to the shop, seven days a week.

But over the past couple of years, I have also developed a renewed fascination with the lamp bases t hat hold the shades up in the air, and make them functional. For years, most of my bases have been out of Mahogany. Originally I used many species, but early on I noticed the most people were choosing the Mahogany and ignoring the other choices of wood. Mahogany has a special warm glow when illuminated by the light from the shade, something in the grain and color make it stand out from the crowd.

Then a couple of years ago I began using Camphorwood Burl for a few table lamp bases – see my July 2008 blog posting to learn more about that specifically. The Camphor bases have been popular, and I try to keep 2 or 3 Camphor Burl bases in inventory at any time. It is hard to find good pieces of the wood, and it is very expensive to purchase the raw chunks of the material. So I keep a web bookmark for the source company easily available and try to check it every day or so, to see if anything new and special has become available. Going to that web site has had a side benefit. I kept seeing other interesting photos of pieces of wood that they had, and this winter, I purchased a few other blocks, and expanded my experiments with new species for table lamp bases. There are challenges in this. I get to see a photo of the piece of wood before making the purchase, but that only provides a vague hint about what the wood will look like. And I never know how wet the wood will be – wet wood introduces the chance of cracking in the drying process.

But the result of these experiments have been fabulous. You can see in the photos below lamp bases made from Cocobolo Rosewood, Wenge, Dalmata, and Osage Orange. All four of these show off colors and grain patterns that relate well to the lampshades, and add a higher level of interest and uniqueness to the entire lamp setup. There are two downsides to my experiments with new species for lamp bases. One is kind of funny: I can't figure out how to display all of these new goodies and also keep showing my older "tried-and-true" designs in Mahogany. Second. all these unusual species are much more expensive than the Mahogany, so the that has an impact on the total price for a finished lamp. In this economy, that might be a disadvantage. But..... oh boy to these look great! And I will keep making plenty of the perfectly lovely Mahogany bases.

And I have other pieces in process. I have roughed out shapes for bases made of Madrone Burl and Bois de Rose (a rosewood species from Madagascar). In the meantime, take a look at these photos of completed piece, I hope you agree that this set of experiments is worth exploring.

June 4, 2009

Collaboration with Sharon Dugan

At long last, I am back to blogging, with a number of ideas of what to say. Sorry about the hiatus!

Sharon Dugan is a truly fantastic basketmaker, who I have known thru the League of NH Craftsmen for perhaps 15 years. I have always admired the intricacy of her work, and her aesthetic vision. She has a commitment to doing things right, by hand, by herself that I respond to strongly. This winter, I proposed to her that we do a collaborative effort for the upcoming Living With Crafts exhibit. We came up with a plan for a matched pair of table lamps. I turned a couple of columns of wood, and she created a woven splint design to cover those columns.

Now that she has completed her work, I have created bottom-disk and top-cap parts and assembled the entire bases. Still to come are the matched shades, but I have temporarily put a shade on one base to give a good idea of what the whole piece will look like when the pair is exhibited at the show in Sunapee, NH from August 1-10.

FYI, the pair is available for $4000 for the set. If they do not sell together, they can be purchased individually at the end of the exhibition. We are very excited about the results of this collaboration and would entertain other commissions in this general style.

Click on the title of this blog posting "Collaboration with Sharon Dugan" to be taken to her web site. It is www.sharondugan.com