These delightful clients wanted to spruce up the lighting by their front door. They liked the clean lines of a fixture I’d made and contacted me via e-mail.
The clients hail from Maryland and found me via a Google search. She typed in something like "light fixture by a door -- one side." A link appeared to my website, where I mused about a custom lighting piece I’d designed.
Tommie Carol commissioned me to make a floor lamp base for a stained glass globe her brother had made for her. Originally designed as a hanging fixture, Tommie Carol preferred that the globe be featured in a floor lamp.
To keep the glass globe as the central focus, I struck upon a simple design with a forged element to accent the globe.
One of my pieces is featured in the Winter 2015 issue of The Anvil's Ring, the quarterly artist-blacksmithing magazine of ABANA.org.
Read the story about this boudoir floor commission which took a year and half -- and plenty of patience -- to complete.
Many thanks to Austin-based photographer Wendy Ogle for the top-notch pictures accompanying the article.
Just back from NOLA where I finished installing this lamp. Photographs by Wendy Ogle!
‘Boudoir Table Lamp’ is a sculptural lighting piece of my own design.
I wanted to push the limits of good taste, going so far as to make a piece so tacky it became cool again.
This table lamp is intentionally oversized, reminiscent of the exuberant 1950s. The look is decidedly sexy. Some might even say ‘naughty’.
The raw material for this lamp was 1/2” thick steel plate. The powerhammer was used to push, pull, and planish this piece into existence.
The ten blood-red panels are made of stained glass pieces fused in a custom clay form. These lumpy glass panels surround a mica-ensconced frame and are suspended on riveted hangers.
I played around on the powerhammer until I was able to accurately reproduce the shapes for the lamp I’d sketched on paper and fleshed out with modeling clay.
Two important considerations for me when designing a piece are that it look attractive from all angles, plus I want my lighting pieces to look sculptural when either lit or unlit.
The end result is a lamp that’s spot-on for what I envisioned in my mind’s eye. I like the shapes and the way they flow as well as the intentional ‘chunkiness’ of the piece. I'm grateful to the folks who helped me bring it to fruition with their guidance, input, and unfailing encouragement.
I’m keen on making more lighting like this. Please let me know if you have a boudoir, lair, restaurant, business, or space station of your own in need of illumination. I’d welcome the opportunity to design and create some sculptural lighting for you.
This steel-and-stained glass box reflects the house’s address. It’s also a light fixture, casting a soft, indirect glow when darkness arrives, illuminating the way from the pathway to the front door.
This particular fixture was designed for outdoor conditions (i.e., it’s waterproof).
A custom grill with the house’s address number screws onto a steel cage. Stained glass nests in the sides and behind the front grill, creating indirect light that doesn’t blind you or your guests.
Just say “No!” to glare. Bad lighting is one of my pet peeves, and I’m making it my life’s mission to snuff it out whenever possible.
This type of fixture is suitable for home or commercial use, and the address (or a business’s name...) is readily visible come nightfall with the flick of a switch.
This hand towel bar (above left) was made to compliment, but not match exactly, a vanity light fixture in a bathroom (pictured above, right). The texture on the towel bar is a result of the weld pool.
I was asked to create a desk lamp that incorporated an elephant. Two sisters wanted a special birthday gift for their father who has a fondness for pachyderms. After rolling around design options in my head for a couple of weeks, I made a v-e-r-y rough sketch and sent it to one of the sisters, Gina, who is also a college friend.
I wasn’t so sure if the project would proceed beyond that, because Gina called me back and said “I don’t see the elephant...” Holding back embarrassment that I might not get the commission due to bad drawing skills, I convinced Gina there was an elephant in there after all. (We laugh about it now, but at the time I was mortified.) Luckily, her sister saw the elephant right away.
I was given an incredible amount of freedom with this project; the sisters were practically hands-off after approving the initial sketch. I really appreciated their confidence and trust, allowing me to craft the piece in a style that is increasingly one of my favorite approaches: convex and concave hammered sheet welded together with negative space reveals.
I wanted to incorporate glass into this piece somewhere, so I decided to use glass to hide/house the light bulb. I took two design approaches simultaneously -- slumped glass and blown glass -- because I didn’t know which would produce the look (shape) I wanted.
For the slumped glass, I worked with Scotty at Armadillo Clay. I cut the glass to the shape and size desired, and Scotty kiln-fired the glass so that it slumped over a cocktail shaker-shaped mold.
For the blown glass approach, Scotty recommended Dean Wolf of Wolf Art Glass. Dean asked what I was looking for in terms of size, shape, and color, then brought my vision to life. Dean and his wife, Carrie, were able to create the flowing water effect I desired.
I ended up using Dean’s blown glass as the light diffuser in the elephant lamp. As sometimes happens with blown glass, it looks one color when lit and completely different when unlit. File that happy accident under ‘fabulous!’
At five feet tall, this lamp stands out in a room and functions as a sculptural night light and/or task lamp.
This floor lamp is based on the lines of a seahorse. The lamp’s body is sections of hammered sheet, shaped and oxy-fuel welded together.
The stained glass diffuser is custom for this piece. Do you really want to know the process for making this custom piece of glass? If not, don't hesitate to skip to the next paragraph!... I formed metal into the shape I wanted the stained glass to be. I pressed clay over the metal form, letting the clay dry. I took the clay form to Feats of Clay to be bisque fired, then I patronized Armadillo Clay for the glass slumping. A sheet of stained glass was placed over the clay form in a kiln where it was heated and slumped.
I can’t tell you which came first, the chicken or the egg -- but I can tell you that the lamp’s cradle was built AFTER the glass was slumped, custom-fitted against the glass for a secure fit.
I started on this lamp in July and now it’s November. I wanted to get it done in time for the Travis Heights Art Trail 2010. There are a couple of little tweaky things I’ll continue to do to refine this guy, but I’m pleased he’s ready enough to make an appearance at the show!
I was commissioned to build a front porch light fixture. Actually, the fixture was to be art foremost, then functional. The street address needed to be included somewhere in the finished product, and the overall vibe was to be subtle yet playful.
I had been asked to do this project many months earlier but didn’t feel like I knew how to achieve what the client was wanting. In particular, she wanted the address numbers to be ‘dancing,’ not static.
Fortunately, the client was patient and, finally, after much cogitating, I struck upon a solution: I would need a plasma cutter to bring the fixture to fruition. Now I had an honest to goodness reason to get one. Off to Alamo Welding Supply I went...
To make those house numbers sing -- er, dance -- I used the plasma cutter to cut out a custom grill. The grill could then be affixed to the front of the fixture.
I hammered the grill to round out the metal and give it some depth and texture. To attach the grill to the fixture, I ‘tapped’ the metal cage. The process of cutting screw threads is called tapping. I bought screws and tapped the appropriate size screw threads. For some (as yet unknown) reason, I find great joy and satisfaction in tapping.
If I were to make the screws myself, that would be called threading, and I would use a die to do it. I have never threaded but hope to include this on my metalsmithing resume some day. And thank you, Wikipedia, for clarifying tapping and threading, and for helping me use my words.
But I digress, so back to the front porch light... The final result was stained glass nesting securely in a slender metal cage. The grill with the street address -- 806 -- screws into to the front panel of the cage. The client and I picked out the glass she wanted at the stained glass store.
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