Friday, October 14, 2011

progress on glass Cactus Lights

Since 2009 I've created different versions of my Cactus Light. It's a simple design that is like a Chinese Finger trap game. I knit an elastic tube and shove containers for lampshades inside of the tube. When they are hanging the objects stay in place, just like when you are pulling really hard to get your finger out of the trap, making it more lodged in place. I then wire the lights with LEDs and hook up to a dimmer touch pad.

My current commission for Cactus Lights are the first of their kind- I'm using glass containers for the first time instead of plastic. That has brought on all sorts of fun challenges to solve. These are photos of the progress for the glass Cactus Lights. There will be three strings of hanging lights, the longest being 7 feet tall.

I collected glass from thrift stores and arranged them on the floor to figure out the order they would hang in.

Then I photographed them and edited out the background, to give myself a visual of what the light could look like. I played around with coloring the lights in digitally, only to find that's not how I enjoy working. I'm analog. Give me markers and paper!

The biggest challenge was locating a supplier for the elastic cord, since how I had run out of the cord I found from a thrift store back in 2009. After three years of looking, a seamstress, Carolyn Craft, with her wonderful industry knowledge knew exactly where to get it made. Within two weeks of talking to her I bought the fabric and had it cut into cord. The three year long search was over! Time to start knitting!

This is a mock install to see how the colors, shapes and length looked in the space. It was super helpful working on-site as apposed to my home studio. I could get a feel for the room and what would work in there.

The lights will hang in between three of the windows on the left. The space is a music room with the world's most comfy love sac (aka enormous beanbag like chair that is stuffed with memory foam). The comfy sac is just out of picture on the right. I'm going to enjoy lying in it looking at the lights.

I used rags and tshirts as reference for figuring out the color scheme. It helped immensely to see the colors instead of imagining them.

Playing around with the idea of going monochromatic.

My home studio- WOW! Talk about a disaster. You can read my mental state and gauge how busy I am by the tidiness of my home. Those of you that know me, know I keep my house very clean.

Note the orange handled pliers on the left. They put the wine bottle into scale. The wine bottle is huge and ridiculously heavy, but oh so cool looking.

Another challenge for this project was learning how to drill holes into glass, so I can wire and hang them. Thanks to the local stained glass store and one of my engineering friends, Paul Franke, I learned that the trick is to use a dremel with a diamond drill bit and water. The water is to keep the glass from getting airborne and into your lungs. I found an eye dropper works best for adding water. I tired using a hose. I ended up very, very cold.

I rarely justify buying tools, but for this project I bought a diamond drill bit set of 50 bits. My cheapo bits were about $20 and they take about 15 minutes to drill a hole 1/8" deep. As opposed to expensive bits, they take a minute to drill a hole. I look forward to upgrading.

After the mock install, I took my color scheme ideas and translated them into marker drawings.

Then I spray painted sample containers, so I can then mix and match and see which colors vibrate off of each other. The trick to lighting design is making a striking light when it is on and when it is off.

As for the wiring, I am playing around with more compact LEDs then I've used in the past. I'm not sure which ones I will go with, but there's time to figure it out.

The plan is to finish these glass Cactus Lights over the next few weeks. Thanks for reading. I'll keep you posted on the progress.

In case you want to look at pretty pictures, check out these photos of Cactus Lights from 2009-Present.

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