Without a doubt, the most frequently asked question by people when they first encounter our functional-art Wares at a local market or event is “How did you get started doing this?”
Well, “getting started doing this” was never even a plan we had in mind – we did not set out to start and build a brand / business creating one of a kind, unique, handcrafted, rustic-industrial functional art Wares. . . it just happened.
As the story goes. . . I work a regular “day job” at a local State College (in Polk County) where I’ve been fortunate to be employed for the past 9 years. For almost the past 6 years I’ve held my current position and for the first 4 years in this position I floated splitting time between two different office spaces. As a result, I never really made either of those spaces my own – as many of my colleagues had done in their dedicate office spaces.
Our department was moving into a new building with a completely redesigned space and part of that space would contain a dedicated office space for me – finally, no more floating between offices!
When I found out, I decided that I was going to have the coolest (at least as far as I was concerned) office space on the campus (black dry erase board, nixie tube clock, mechanical retro typewriter style keyboard, etc). . . and I was going to have some really cool desk lamps because there was no way I was going to bake under these things for 8 hours a day:
6 fluorescent tubes bouncing off the freshly painted bright white walls may be great for lighting a photo shoot set, but it definitely wasn’t a place I wanted to spend 40 hrs a week in – so I knew I was going to need some desk lamps for a more ambient lighted atmosphere.
I knew exactly what I wanted but couldn’t really find anything that matched what I had in mind, so I went to the local home improvement store and started laying out black iron pipe and fittings for two desk lamps right in the middle of the aisle. Once I was pretty certain I had what I needed to bring the images in my mind to reality, I went home and began assembling the two lamps.
I’m a bit of purist when it comes to functionality – if there are sub dials on a watch, they need to work and not just be there for “aesthetics” only. . . if it has a gauge on it, the gauge should actually be measuring something . . . a retro style rotary phone with push buttons on the “rotor” – no thank you!
So, when I decided to integrate valve handles on the lamps there was no question that they had to function as the on / off switch. After some research, I came upon a method that would work as intended and now I had two functional desk lamps for my new office space.
This is before the nixie tube clock, mechanical retro typewriter style keyboard and other cool things were added. . .
I do have a window – so it’s not as dark as it appears here. . .
There we go! Mission accomplished – two cool functional desk lamps for my new office space. . . back to life as normal – honestly, as far as I was concerned, that was the end of it.
Well, since our department moved into a new building in a redesigned space, everyone was coming by to check it out. They would also pop in my office to say hello and check out my new space. They would see the lamps and say how cool they were (especially after seeing the functional valve handle turn it on and off) and ask where I got them. When I told them I made them they would say “Well, now you have to make me one.”
So, that’s how I “got started doing this”. It’s grown and evolved from there with me creating more functionality in my pieces (functional voltage meters, functional power outlets, multi valve functionality for different bulbs / gauges) and the ideas continue to come!
But it all started with these two “desk lamps” – which have now been retired from my “day job” office space and moved to a seat of honor – perched high, front and center in our Studio / Gallery / Mercantile overlooking all that they helped to create!
The original Gooseneck and the one and only Double – perched above our vintage 70s (functional!) shop phone