When I am developing a design for a lamp it is usually is a fairly lengthy process. The piece starts out as an idea in a sketchbook, rattles around the back of my brain for a while, eventually is committed as a scale drawing or CAD rendering until eventually the first prototype is made. About a month ago, I had an idea for a new piece and decided that I was just going to roll the dice, blow through the development stage and start working. I set the goal of going from initial concept to completed piece in two weeks. Actually, I decided that if I was going to make one, I might as well make three and if the design turned out to be a failure, it would be a grand failure.
The concept for The Silo is essentially two ‘broken’, concentric rings of curved shoji shades that are spaced such that the inner ring is visible through the gap between the outer ring segments. If there is any recurring theme in my lamps, it’s the feeling of motion and I generally achieve that by developing pieces that appear to change depending upon the viewing angle. In terms of productivity, the fewer the number of parts the better, so the three segments that make up the inner ring are identical as are the three that make up the outer ring. In order to give this piece the feeling of motion, and add visual interest, I decided to also stagger the elevation of the inner and outer segments relative to each other. I knew that I wanted a fairly compact form, so I kept the diameter of the rings fairly narrow — this lamps is 32″ tall, but only 11″ in diameter. Those details all came together fairly quickly and once again I used Google Sketchup to dial in the proportions. However, I wrestled a bit with the design of the base, or more specifically how to attach the sections of shade to the base. This was one of those devil-is-in-the-details problems that seems to pop up in every design. After playing with a few models, I eventually settled on a system that uses shaped pieces of walnut with short extrusions of stainless steel rod which gives the shade the illusion of floating off of a center column..
With the design nailed down, the fun started and I began making parts and of course, the jigs to help make the parts… Things were humming right along and I was on schedule to finish all three pieces in the allotted two weeks. I had enough laminated shoji paper, the stainless steel rod had arrived from McMaster-Carr and while my walnut supply was dwindling there was plenty left. With the frames fully assembled and two days remaining, the last step was to fit the shoji paper and I discovered that I had only a partial roll of shoji adhesive remaining. While the adhesive rolls are only $5 each they’re not available locally… Fortunately there was enough remaining that I was able to finish two with a day to spare. By the end of the allotted two weeks, I had a new product developed, made, photographed, added to my web sites and available for purchase on my Etsy store.
As always, thanks for reading.