Tag Archives: photos of lamps

Lighting of All Kinds: for Cee’s B&W Challenge

 

Please click on the photos to enlarge them.

For fourteen years before I moved to Mexico, my husband and I made hundreds of art lamps–no two the same. He did the stone and wood structures and I did the willow structures and also made the washi paper from mulberry bark to create the shades or outer coverings. 

For Cee’s B&W Lighting of all kinds.

Wood, Paper, Stone

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Lately, several people have asked to see what I as doing before I moved to Mexico and started making retablos and writing this blog.  When I searched for the word “study,” today’s prompt word, in my blog files, this blog published four years ago was one of the posts that came up and since it fulfills both purposes, I’m going to run it again.

My story begins in 1985 when I went to a coffee house in Santa Monica, CA for a poetry reading. It was an interesting situation–a dual reading between a local poet I’d never heard read before and his ex-girlfriend who also happened to be pregnant with his child.  Although they had broken up and she had gone back to her estranged husband, the two of them were reading love poetry they had written to each other!!!  Need I mention that it was a packed house?  At any rate, if you’ve read my book, you know that it was love at first sight on my part.  I not only thought he was gorgeous,but his poetry was smart and funny and real and I felt I knew him from the first time I saw him.

A year and a few months later, we were married and moved to northern California where the living was cheaper and where I intended to get a teaching job to augment his early retirement (from teaching) income so he could finally become the full time artist he’d always wanted to be. Prior to moving northwards and actually prior to our marriage, when I experienced writer’s block, the man whose poetry workshop we both attended had suggested that my problem was that I “knew” too much about writing. (I had been teaching literature and writing for 10 years prior to moving to CA to write myself.)  He said the  cure would be to try an artistic discipline other than writing that I knew nothing about–in my case, art.  But I couldn’t draw or paint, I protested. So, he suggested I go to the dime store and buy a bunch of “stuff” and just play around with collage.

So, this is what I did, assembling a half dozen or so collages out the the most unlikely of materials–rubber mice, cut up thin metal jam and butter lids I’d collected on a European vacation, confetti,  paper sculptures I’d cut out of pages of old poems.  I know. Weird.  I remember one of the titles was, “Party mouse wants to come out to play, but can’t.”

Jack, our writing guru, had said to bring my results to show him at the next workshop, but I was embarrassed and so left my collages in the car when I came up to class. When it was my turn to present, he asked if I’d done as he instructed and I admitted I’d left them into the car. “Go and get them,” he directed and because he was our God and because no one ever didn’t mind Jack, I went to get them.  They were well-received, to my great surprise, and one woman who worked in a downtown L.A. gallery even offered  to exhibit them.  No, way, I protested, but I have  continued to do art of one sort or another ever since.

After we moved to the Santa Cruz area, Bob did art full time until his death 14 years later.  I never did get that teaching job.  Instead I studied metal smithing and became a jewelry maker and paper maker.  We made our living doing arts and crafts shows for the next 13 years, each doing our own thing–me, jewelry and him sculpture and ikebana vases–but in addition, we collaborated on art lamps that were constructed from river stones, bamboo, willow, basket making materials and my handmade washi paper.  Bob did the wood and stone work. I made the paper from mulberry bark and applied it and in some cases designed and constructed the entire lamp of liana, bamboo, my handmade paper and various natural materials. Some of those lamps are pictured below:

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We sold hundreds of these lamps, each one totally unique and although we sold every one we ever made, they were extremely time-consuming and hard to transport. We were not becoming rich, but we were doing exactly what we wanted to and making art exactly according to our own esthetic, not catering to fashion or what would sell. Eventually, I started to make my own lamps as well as doing all of the paper and application of paper for his and continuing to design and make jewelry.

At one show, a man actually came in and bought our entire booth.  Every lamp, ikebana vase and every piece of jewelry!!  That, I must say, was the highlight of our joint careers.

When Bob died and I moved to Mexico, it was the end of my lamp building career. I let each of his kids choose a lamp and sculpture, I saved two lamps for myself, sold the rest, and went on to the next stage of my life.  But, since we did so many  shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco, I developed this very strange compulsion which consisted of looking for our lamps in every TV show and movie that I’ve watched since then.  I had this feeling that one day I would see one of our lamps as part of the set for a movie.

Bob died in 2001, but, still, my eyes sweep the background of each movie scene.  I must admit I do the same with magazines, and actually, thirteen years ago when I thumbed through an issue of House and Garden that had a friend’s garden on the cover, I suddenly had an overwhelming sense that one of our lamps was inside.  I looked and looked.  Nothing.  Then, I concentrated on a many-page spread of the gardens surrounding a house outside of Santa Fe and when I looked closer, I realized it was the house of the man who had bought out our entire booth in Tucson–so although they didn’t show, the house pictured as the backdrop of the gardens actually was filled with our lamps!!!  I know.  Stretching it, but still.

Anyway, we are about to come to the end of this very wandering tale.  Last night I watched a movie I’ve been putting off seeing for years.  My friend and I had just spent two hours trying unsuccessfully to link my MacBook Air and my Samsung Smart TV.  I was exhausted and decided to just watch Netflix on my computer. Not feeling like scrolling through a hundred different films, I  clicked on “Life of Crime” with Jennifer Aniston.  The movie was actually rather engaging and not the slapstick comedy I had envisioned, and I stayed the course.  And it was in the very last scene that it happened.  As the antagonist female was heading for the bathroom, there on the back wall was what looked like –ONE OF MY LAMPS!!!  Four different times, I got glimpses of it.  When the movie ended (great ending by the way) I replayed the last 5 minutes.  Tried to freeze frame.  Scrunched my eyes up.  Yes!  I was so sure it was one of my own small lamps–not one we’d collaborated on, but one of the first I’d done where I’d done my own design, execution and even the wiring.

Of course, I told Forgottenman, who happens to live 1500 miles away but whom I talk to at length via Skype each day.  A few minutes later, he Skyped, “Is it this one?” with a perfect screen shot of the  lamp.  Yes, indeed it was.  I remembered thinking I should cover the cord up with something.  I remembered hand drying the paper with a hairdryer so it would shrink over the willow branches.  I remembered binding it tightly with wax linen and spraying it with fire retardant.  I remember making the handmade label and where I tied it on–at the bottom where the willow branches joined.

So, though I may have flaked out and quit the actor’s studio I attended while I was in L.A. studying film production and film writing—retreating  with my tail between my legs as soon as casting directors actually started coming to see what we were up to—there was one of my lamps, bravely rising to the occasion–hanging securely on the wall and facing up to the camera like the star I knew it would one day be. Like a proud parent, I bask in its reflected glory.

It is one of my humble little lamps, non-assuming and plain, but here it is below, for all the world to see:    

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As well as a few  more elaborate lamps by Bob Brown & Judy Dykstra-Brown made of Stone, wood, handmade washi paper, waxed linen and willow.

daily life color056 daily life color053 daily life color052 daily life color051

 

The prompt word today is study.

Lit and Bit

Lit and Bit

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IMG_8947 (1) IMG_8942 IMG_8944 IMG_8950As I was taking the picture of the sconces outside, in the dark, I was breaking off the bougainvillea vines that grew in front of them, sticking myself on the thorns, as usual.  Then I felt a sharp sting on my forearm and called out to Judy (a visiting writer who is doing a retablo workshop with me at my house) that I was stung by something.  Then I felt a very sharp sting on my leg, under my Levis.  I grabbed the place and squeezed the material of my Levis, running into the house, trying to get my shoes off and my jeans pulled down.  “It’s stinging me, it’s stinging me!” I said.

“What do I do?” Judy shouted.

“Pull my pants down!” I ordered. She did and I held on to the bundle I imagined inside the jeans–hoping it wasn’t the notorious and very poisonous Donald Trump caterpillar that has been discovered locally.  When I opened my fingers, there was instead a black wasp inside.  How he got inside my jeans I’ll never know.  Perhaps he fell off my arm when I received the first sting, fell to the ground and flew up my Levis in an attempt to get away.  At any rate, the stings hurt like Hell.  I ran to the bathroom, wet my wounds and sprinkled on meat tenderizer which helped to counteract the worst stinging, although my arm and leg are still swollen and tender to the touch.  How I suffer for my blog!!!
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For more light photos, go here: https://themomhood.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/prompt-stomp-week-9-calling-all-photographers/