Feature Image for Khaki Industrial Lamp

Khaki Industrial Lamp

Lamp Magic

Imagination is a wonderful thing. Ideas constantly swim in and out of my head. Most are usually forgotten after a day or two, yet, once in a while, one will persist. And if one does, then I begin to ask myself, is it worth my time and effort? As in the case of my Khaki Industrial Lamp, it was a quick “Yes.” I knew it had to be built.

Interestingly, because I’ve been creating my own ideas for the last 10 years, I’ve learned a little something about myself. My inspirations typically arise from one of three camps: One that wants to showcase the Beauty of the Wood, as in my deco foyer table. One that emphasizes Color and Finish, like my buffed up yellow school bus. Or one that focuses on the Structure and Proportion of a Piece.

Inspirational sketch of Khaki Industrial Lamp

I can’t say what inspired my Khaki Industrial Lamp, but I know it came from the “Structure” camp. Maybe I was thinking about an old fashioned radiator, or had visions of circuit boards in my head, or saw a photo of the George Pompidou Center in Paris. Whatever it was, I immediately “saw” my Khaki Industrial Lamp and felt the need to create stacks of parallel lines. Now was the time to pull materials and get building.

The real challenge, about how to finish this piece, would come later. What was it going to look like? The base and cap were going to be one color, and the column another. But what would they be? The possibilities were endless.

Design Inspiration and Execution

If you have been watching my previous posts, my Khaki Industrial Lamp is based on the design for my Yellow Art Deco Lamp. The proportions are the same, yet the simple glossy form has been replaced by thin strips of wood closely following my inspirational drawing – at least on the front side. As the pattern wrapped around the sides, it seemed to take on a life of its own.

Partially assembled backside of Khaki Industrial Lamp

Partially assembled front side of Khaki Industrial Lamp

Finding the Finish for My Khaki Industrial Lamp

All along, it was my intent to create something that looked like it had been “poured” and came from a mold. I didn’t want it to look like wood, and so relied on the thick primer to create the softness I desired. It filled the nooks and crannies, rounded the corners and smoothed out the imperfections.

Primed Khaki Industrial Lamp

At times, too much primer built-up in the corners, so it was necessary to remove it with my X-acto knife or some jeweler’s files. A slow, but necessary process that eventually prepared me for the last step. Determining the final color.

Detail photo of primed Khaki Industrial Lamp

Should it be white? Should it be navy, or something else? Whatever it was, it had to compliment the polished stainless rings I wanted to use.

Stymied, I found myself lurching from one idea to another.  Back and forth. I went so far as to “flip my thinking” and envision my Khaki Industrial lamp as an old rusty radiator with bronze accents. But that didn’t pan out, so I went back to my original idea. It was only after a long pause, did I finally “see” what I had been looking at for months.

Finished portrait of Khaki Industrial Lamp

I had been making a bunch of gray oak samples for another project, but never considered them as a possibility for my Khaki Industrial Lamp.  It wasn’t until I sprayed my commissioned piece, did I “see” the khaki color and thought of combining it with the grayed-out white oak and the polished stainless steel.  And so that’s how the finish came to be.

Creating a Shade for my Khaki Industrial Lamp

You’d think plopping a lamp shade on a custom piece would be a simple process, but it wasn’t. Both my yellow art deco lamp and my khaki industrial lamp were created at about the same time and thinking that any old shade would work, was an erroneous belief!

I’ve worked with custom shade makers before and appreciate their guidance when creating something new and different, but I have to admit, the solutions they offered this time around weren’t all that different. Nor did they compliment my lamps. Too many silks, cottons and rayons. Everything looked the same!

Back in the shop, I tried to create some magic by pairing-up some upholstery fabrics with my yellow art deco lamp, but nothing seemed to come of it.

Out of frustration I said to myself, “It’s time to ditch the traditional and start fresh.” After all, these were art deco lamps, why not have deco inspired shades? So I drew a couple of options and then made a cardboard version to see what it looked like. Pretty radical I thought.

The last step was to make one out of wood, which took a little bit of doing. The first attempt was too small and needed to be revised. The second one was a success, so I stained it to match the lamp’s woodwork and then lined it with vellum. Well, it’s different.

Khaki Industrial Lamp with shade

Can’t say I’m totally sold on it, so I’m working on a simpler version with a metal frame and covered with a linen material that I think will succeed. We’ll see.