Posts Tagged ‘handmade’


Generosity & regeneration

October 2, 2016

I’ve been working lately with things people have given me, some of which I’ve had for quite some time. This led me to thinking about the words gratis and gratitude.

Oddly, it seems these have different Latin roots (though I’m no linguist, so I’m not exactly sure how all this works). Gratis comes from gratia, meaning grace or kindness, whereas gratitude comes from gratus: thankful. Interestingly, according to Google both words saw a steady fall in usage from 1800 to 2000, but a slight gain since then. For extra credit, you can speculate about what that says about contemporary society, and if there’s any connection to the rise in popularity of zombies.

Which brains brings me obliquely to the topic of resurrection – that is, upcycling. The first project marries a wine crate donated a few years back by a then-neighbor with radiator screen my brother salvaged from work. The other one uses more of the same screen inside napkin dispensers my friend Ami gave me. These also sat on a shelf for years, waiting for me to figure out how to use them.

So I give you, with gratitude for the kindness of friends and family, a little grace and silliness.

St. Benziger's Relic

St. Benziger’s Relic



Visit 4f Lighting on Etsy for details.


Deja vu(ish)

July 12, 2015

So far, it’s been a summer of repeats, more or less. I built a new shop for the launch of Upcycle Post’s Marketplace, and I made a new heater light that marries the styles of two previous ones: the compact shape of one with the color changing properties of the other.

And then…well, I guess I got bored. Because one day when I was supposed to be doing something else, I wandered into my workshop and started stacking. I had a couple of small aluminium coffeepots, both of them incomplete, and though they didn’t match in any way other than size and material, I put the smaller atop the larger, and then just kept going, without resorting to anything you might call logic.

After a few discards and addenda, I found something that seemed to work. So I assembled it, then took it apart a couple of times for tweaks, added some finishing touches, and (drumroll, please) attained this:

The Towering Cafferno

The Towering Cafferno

Yeah, I know. It makes no sense. And yet it kind of does, if you don’t think too hard about it.

Details on both these lamps can be found in my Etsy shop or on Upcycle Post, if you’d like to check out the new venue.


Repeat, rinse, spit

June 3, 2015

I had a couple of recurring experiences this week: one bad, one good.

The bad one involved this light that I’d finally found a home for, to my delight, only to find it had met the same fate as another package I mailed a couple of years ago. I’m guessing that, due to the way the objects I work with can look on an x-ray, it was opened at a postal sorting station, dropped (catastrophically), then repackaged and sent on its merry way.

In any case, this is what arrived, and what it looked like before it left.

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The buyer was understandably not happy. Nor was I.

The other story is more run of this mill. A year ago I “made” (decoupaged) a shade for a customer, and I liked the way it came out so well I decided to try it again. The fun thing about making these shades is that I never know what I’m going to get until it’s done. The darker parts of the pattern are made up of overlapping shapes, but you can’t really see them until there’s a light inside.

Then I had to construct a lamp to go with it. I’d bought a fireplace tool set (minus most of the tools) awhile back, so I repurposed the holder bracket into a base, and added other pieces to make a form to suit the shade.

Cock your head and squint, and you just might be able to see the tree. Details, etc., in my Etsy shop.



November 2, 2014

OrigCageCropI’ve made several lamps out of birdcages recently, and people seem to like them, so I’m always on the lookout. A year ago, give or take, I ran across this cage on Etsy that – though I resisted for awhile – I ultimately had to have.

Then it sat around for several months.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it. It was more that I couldn’t quite visualize the details. Somehow the thing just wouldn’t come together. And there were problems to be solved, like how to attach the cage to the base in such a way that it could easily be removed and replaced.

I tinkered. Made some decisions, and then unmade them. Walked away and ignored it for another month or two.

Finally though, I solved the attachment problem, and that made the other decisions easier. I painted the pieces that needed it, put the lamp together, and … realized the damned thing was too tall, and a bit off kilter (hazards of reuse).

Back to my favorite parts supplier (TX Lamp Parts) for a new, straight pipe, and a week later, voilà.

This one will probably be going to my new brick-and-mortar venue, SwapShop, here in Oakland, but you can read more about it in my Etsy shop. It can also be purchased from there if you’re willing to pay the freight or pick it up.


In good company

November 8, 2013

Well, the show at Rebooty is up and glowing. It will be there for a several days, maybe longer. Be sure to stop in if you’re in the neighborhood. There’s a ton of upcycled fun inside!


Casa mobile

October 22, 2013

When I was a kid, one year some relative or family friend gave me a subscription to Highlights magazine. It wasn’t very interesting usually, though the puzzles were OK (I was probably too old for it already), but one issue had a version of the Baba Yaga fairy tale, about a witch who lived in a hut with chicken legs that could move the house around the forest at will. I was fascinated by the notion, as I recall, and disappointed when the subscription ran out before the next installment of the story.

So it completes the tale somehow to make a lamp that echoes the memory – and just in time for Halloween. I give you a hybrid of tripod and birdcage I call Baba Yaga’s Hut.

Visit my Etsy shop for details.


Stand by me

September 3, 2013

MedOffI kind of knew when I originally made Tiger, Tiger that it needed something more – a bracket so it could hang from the wall, or a stand to dangle from. Eventually, after Schrödinger’s Parakeet sold, I decided that a floor lamp was the way to go. But it was a struggle to get there.

Some projects just fight you. Each step forward seems to generate another step. One thing doesn’t work, and the solution makes something else look wrong, and when you replace that you have to replace something else, and …

And then you start to doubt yourself, overthink, obsess. Inanimate objects begin to sense your vulnerability and become balky: paint nozzles clog, parts get stuck together, patinas assume weird, unnatural colors. You go around for days feeling itchy and frustrated. The trips to the hardware store pile up. It seems endless.

Eventually, though, one thing comes right, and then the other pieces start to fall into place. You relax a bit, realize you can swap nozzles between spray cans, accept that not everything needs to match. You start to see the ornery, individual parts as completing a whole. You are – almost – there.

This one is going straight to Rebooty, but you can contact me to find out more about it.