I’ve spent this long weekend consumed with light fixture construction for Jeremiah’s Restaurant. I figured it was an appropriate time to take you on a little walk-through, from concept to near-completion.

This all started a couple months back with a contest. There’s a new restaurant opening in Hartland, NB (home of the world’s longest covered bridge). The owners approached the college looking to have a competition to create a feature light. My teacher signed us up and we all got to work designing our individual lights.

It was a great spot to design for. An old church, with a large recess in the ceiling, measuring 9′ x 9′. So much potential. I came up with this design which I presented to them along with the rest of my classmates.

(For your interest: In Greek mythology, Zeus was gifted with a Sphaira, or sphere, which when thrown in the air played dancing lights over the entire sky.)

A week  and much anticipation later, they deliver the verdict. They chose my design and so I was given the prize and budget to construct the piece. I immediately started ordering reed, buying up dye, salt, all the necessities.

The dyeing was the first challenge as it wanted to turn either red or green, not the rich browns I had selected. It turned out to be all a matter of salt content. Many kgs of salt later, I achieved the perfect colourway.

The next step was to weave the spheres.  Random weave is a beautiful, undulating technique. You take a piece of reed and make a couple of rings with it, which you hold in place with wire. Then you take more reed and weave over under, over under, over under. You get nice curls and added strength by doubling back on yourself. It sounds simple but it really is.

I anticipated needing about one hundred, but as it turned out I needed only sixty-one. With a lot of help from Warren, my Mom,  and some fellow students I was able to complete that phase on Thursday. Phew!

I also needed a single sphere with a 2′ diameter for the entryway of the restaurant. I think I will make one of these for myself as well : ) And wouldn`t they make neat bird/squirrel houses?

On to construction! I first built a ring on the floor, about 5′ diameter at its widest. Then I worked up into a half sphere, using a lamp-post for stability.

Then I flipped it over.

And worked the other half.

I finished it off with a little hole at the top for the globe to fit through, then flipped it back over to tidy up loose reed and cover any large holes. I left that big sphere at the front detachable so the lightbulb can be changed.

So today if the rain holds off for long enough I am going to take it to school and spray it with lacquer. Then it will just be a matter of testing out the light fixture that will hang inside.

I couldn’t be more pleased. It was originally supposed to be more spherical, but just by the nature of the material and variety of ball sizes, it ended up a little squatty on the top side. As it turns out this means I can get it out the door and won’t have to split it in half for transport, which I was a little concerned with. It works on the premise that each ball holds the one next to it, so if I cut it in half it might settle out of shape.

Just check out those shadows! I expect the piece will be picked up in a week or so, so I’d better get to school and take care of those finishing touches!

To start in the middle is no start at all. But where else?

Yesterday was a good day. Had some help with the making of random weave spheres for the big feature lighting commission. Deadline approaches fast! Never fear, it’s coming along nicely. Soon so soon my work will be a permanent fixture of Jeremiah’s Restaurant in Hartland, NB. I think I’ll keep the concept a surprise until the piece is finished. I’ll give you a hint, it’s super neat.

Glad my kitchen is no longer filled to the brim with dye baths. Reed is a frustration! But we are becoming fast friends. I was unconvinced for a little while but the colours came out so beautifully in the end. I had to really increase the salt with the ProMX dyes to get the right depth of shade.  Ah, the power of sampling never ceases to amaze me.

Now it’s just a matter of executing the many hours of hypnotic weaving. A fine way to spend a thousand evenings.

In other news I’ve been working away on a paper quilt. One of the very most fun projects I’ve worked on in a while. It was for my Evolution of Textiles course at the NB College of Craft and Design. Very interesting project inspired by the Adinkra cloth of Ghana. My piece discusses the three revolutions of written communication. Will delve into the symbolism a little deeper when I have the finished piece returned and photographed. To whet your appetite, here is the quilt in progress.


Also, this pretty little dollar store crystal tree has inspired me. I’m thinking cityscapes and brains. Oh the humanity!

À demain!

-Allison Green