Thursday, November 4, 2010

out from under the backlog

I've more or less finally got completely up-to-date on my orders, so now I get to create new things again. One new light that was part of the order backlog was a plant stand with an illuminated top. After a couple of false starts I decided on a simple rectangular column of aluminium and painted wood with a translucent top. I think it came out quite respectably. It's about 3 inches  (7.6cm) tall and the light source is an LED.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

finally - some updates - making a lamp

One of the problems with modern designs is that a lot of the work that goes into making something that looks clean and sleek is not visible. I was making a couple of lights today for an order and took some photos of part of the process - making the base.
Here's a shot of  one I made several years ago
and here are some of the steps to make one: I left out the trivial ones like hack-sawing through 1/2 inch (12.5mm) aluminium bar and cutting the acrylic tubing. Clicking on any photo should enlarge it.
smooth ends

centre drill hole for wires

enlarge hole and drill through base

turn shoulder on base so acrylic tube will fit snugly, but won't split if the aluminium expands with the heat of the light or changes in room temperature. The acrylic also expands, but at a different rate.

test fit and turn some more
clean up the exterior

on my mill, mill channel for power cord so base will sit flat

now just assemble the LED electronics and they're done. If you look REALLY closely you can see the groove in the base of the right hand light.
 nothing to it! I wish

Saturday, July 24, 2010

crunch time

I' m getting ready for a workshop and being reminded just how many parts go into nine roomboxes. The sawdust has generated has been impressive. When I get back from running the workshop I'll have some time to focus again on some new modern designs. I picked up some incredibly thin and badable plywood -0.8mm thin (that's less than 1/32 of an inch)! I should be able to get some great shapes for furniture bending and laminating that stuff.

Monday, July 5, 2010

blogger is confused

Google/blogger is have the sulks and is refusing some comments. If you don't se your comment, please re-post it

film at 9 - the flickering sign

It took me a while to get the video - little things, like an emergency trip to Montreal to visit my 90 year dad got in the way, but here is a bit of video showing the effect. I'm using several sets of LEDs, one for the top letters and another for the flicker which I run through a circuit from ngineering which I also sell for $13.95 (assembly with LEDs extra)

Monday, June 21, 2010

getting from the “bright idea” to making the flickering sign

It always seems to end up this way; I get a good idea, figure out the hard part, and spend hours and/or days on what was supposed to be the simple part. The flickering electronics part of the seedy hotel room sign is worked out, tested and approved. Now “all“ that remains is making the letters for the sign itself. Once upon a time it would have been easy to get all kinds of stencils so I could airbrush the background and the lettering of the sign. Now of course everything is done with computers and finding Letraset and/or stencils is really difficult. Looks like I may have to cut my own; something I was hoping to avoid so I could save time. I’ve spent more time looking for time savers than it will actually take me to cut the darn things.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

paid to be messy

Right now I'm working on a really different project for a good client: a room box that is supposed to be shabby, run down and generally seedy. It is quite strange to prepare one of my hardwood floors, laid down 1/4 inch (about 1 cm) strip by strip and not only not worry about getting glue on the surface, but actually check and make sure I have enough glue spots to make for good stains when I finish the floor.
In a similar fashion, when painting the interior trim, instead of masking all the wallpaper, I made sure some paint got on the floor and on the wallpaper: sort of like being in grade 1 again! I also so going to be providing a flickering sign visible out of a window - sort of a failing Neon sign effect - should be very cool.

I'll post some pictures once the room is reassembled

Monday, May 31, 2010

responding to Heather's question about looking for ideas/information

This is a question that I don't really have a good answer for.

Most of my designs are a result of going into my studio, looking at the woods and other items I have around and playing with the materials. I read a lot of magazines and books, but most of my designs just "appear".
The table in the photo was the result of my looking at a piece of spalted (partially decayed) maple branch that I had in my wood pile. I realized that if I took 2 slices and flipped one of them end to end with the other, I would get an interesting design. The wood dictated the design of the piece to me.
  The more comfortable I get with something, the more I can design with it. With lights for example, I now have much more freedom to experiment because I know how to control their brightness, how to use multiple light sources in a single fixture, and, very important, what won't work. I guess my advice would be to just play with the materials until you get something you like - not much help I must admit.

So where are the comments?

There is a bug in blogger right now that sometimes results in comments not being displayed unless you actually click on the comment count below each posting. I'm trying to get this fixed so I can respond to your comments, but right now it's out of my control. Until that's fixed, I've added a gadget to some the most recent comments at the bottom of the page.

Friday, May 28, 2010

more on the KDF show

One of the items that I displayed that generated a lot of comment (and a sale -YES!) was a screen that could serve to separate areas in a room. The inspiration came from a lacquered screen by Eileen Gray from the deco period. As best I can tell, Eileen Gray is not too well known in North America, but she was influential in the French Deco scene.
Please note that the picture on the Victoria and Albert museum site is shown sideways! The rods run top to bottom, not side to side. I've notified the museum so this may change. I thought that my version provided a bit more flexibility in miniature scenes. It doesn't photograph all that well because it's not shown in any context. It's about 6 inches (15 cm) tall and each of the panels rotates separately. The back of each panel is plain, so you can get a wide variety of effects by rotating elements

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Just back from The London - Kensington Dollhouse Festival

Staggered back tonight from London and I can testify that a 10 hour flight crossing 8 timezones has it's side effects.
The show was interesting, with many dealers that I had not come across before; not to surprising considering I hadn't done a show in the England before. Once again I was one of a very few people doing modern design, and probably the only one that was doing primarily original modern designs. Sales were, unfortunately few and far between which is quite common when doing a show for the first time. Fortunately the main reason for the trip was to have a bit of a vacation which did go well.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

on a hot streak light and sculpture

Once I made the initial table, I had to make new items to display on it, so I made a new table lamp and a "thing of purpose" out of acrylic. I used an LED in the table light; they are pretty much my standard now although they do take a extra hour or so of work to create. It does add a lot of freedom to the way I can design and build the lights, so it's worth it.
Well, managed to get the first version done today. It's a little guy - about 4 inches long and 2 1/4 inches tall. Bloodwood top, Jatoba base Ebony angles on the top's bottom - so to speak

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

getting close to the next show - so it must be time for a change

For some reason (procrastination perhaps...) I tend to do my most creative work when there is the least amount of time available for it. With the Kensington Dollhouse Festival coming next week, I decided it time to try working with a relatively new material - carbon fiber. I have made a light using this stuff and it is quite interesting; very light and very strong for its weight. For example, in the photo of the light the glass cube is 1 inch square, so the carbon rod holding up the light "head" is pretty darn thin.
It is also very rigid for any given diameter, so I'm going make a hall or side table with offset diagonal legs - something like the sketch. The idea is to have the top almost float above the base. The rods will be about 0.030 inches thick.
I'm also thinking of having the diagonals run in opposite directions - forming an "X" but the legs are separated. We'll see...

Monday, April 26, 2010

lessons learnt at the Chicago International

The Chicago show proved to be somewhat stressful, but resulted in enough orders for me to return a happy camper. My new lights were very positively received and my new plug setup worked exactly as I had hoped- no lights flickered and/or died during the entire show and when required, it was very easy to unplug any given light. I'm definitely going to recommend to clients that I install lights in roomboxes using this kind of plug.

I displayed an Art Deco/Moderne room and it also drew many favourable comments, but I also found that some people found the light temperature (colour) too cool. I had been trying for that effect, as fluorescent lights were very new in the 30's and would have been cutting edge fashion, but I found that most viewers prefer a warmer look. These photos show what the difference would sort of be like - I'm cheating and using photoshop for now. The top one is warmed up, the bottom one is as I displayed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

plugging in those new lights

One of the things that I dislike the most are the unreliable, fragile, finicky plugs used with miniature lights. At shows they are a nightmare as one never knows if they are going to work and if by some chance they do work at first, will they  keep on working (not bloody likely is the answer). The main problem is that they rely on mechanical contact - friction to hold the wires in place and feeble springs in the sockets to make contact with the pins,   Today I started the process of replacing all the plugs, using electronic machined pins and sockets instead. The left photo show a cir-kits plug, a pin partially cleaned up and ready to use, a strip of pins, and a small socket. Once I cut a pin off the strip, I cut off the remaining plastic and solder in the lead. I then put a jacket of shrink tubing to cover the pin top and the joint
The leads are soldered into the plug pins, so they won't get shaken or pulled loose, nor will the contact be broken by oxides.
The other photos shows how compact the setup is and how many lights I can plug in securely in a very small space. For any techies out there, I'm driving LED lights, so the amperage is very small.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another new LED light

I'm constantly finding new ways to combine LEDs with novel light forms. Knowing that the light source will never have to be accessed to change a bulb frees one up considerably in the design process

Using LEDs

A number of people have asked me about using LEDs in my miniatures and rooms and wondered if I used Novalyte™ LEDs. I don't; I usually assemble my own using some VERY small components. The photos give some idea of their size: that's a regular toothpick and the ruler divisions are 1/16 inch.

Why work with the little LEDs - because I can't get the results I want from ready made products here are two examples

Sunday, March 28, 2010

updating track light design

I been working on a new design for my track lights and thing I have come up with an innovative way of attaching the heads to the "track" so I can hide the wires and still have tilt and swivel capabilities. I'm using LEDs for these and most other lights that I make. The example shown is 6 inches or 15 cm long.