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Sapele and Stained Glass Lanterns

We have been interested for a while now in trying some modified designs for our work in stained glass lighting—something that gets away from the more traditional ‘rail and stile’ style of construction with traditional woods like walnut and oak.  We wanted something a little more modern looking and also something that avoided the struggle of joinery with dowels involved in the traditional design.  We also wanted something that could ship “unassembled” that you could put together—like ‘ready to assemble’ furniture, only without any hardware or tools.  We experimented with two different prototype designs before making this pair of lamps, and took the best construction and design elements from both.  


These streamlined lamps, with their brushed zinc edges remind us of Asian style lanterns made of metal and wrapped in papers, so we are calling them our “lantern” line of lamps.  Each of the four sides is a single piece of stained glass wrapped in soldered zinc came.  These zinc edges were then smoothed and blended and softened in look with a Dremel attachment to give them the look of brushed nickel.  To make the matching top and bottom squares to hold the glass panels, we ripped one piece of quartersawn Sapele on the bandsaw, planed them all to proper size, and then used the router to create a groove that would “capture” the glass inside.  Once we established that the grooves were just the right width (snug enough to hold the glass upright for assembly, but loose enough to account for wood movement and solder joints that can never all be made the exact same size), we used the mitre saw to cut the sections and glued them up to form the squares.  For added support, we also added decorative keys made of quartersawn sycamore.  Additionally, we created in the interior sides of the pieces that would form the bottom yet another groove to capture a thin piece of sapele that would be the bottom (which of course has a hole in it to accommodate the light bulb).  After that, we created rail style feet for the lamps to give them just enough height to allow the electric cord to move freely.  Once everything was glued up, we sanded it all down and finished it with multiple coats of a brush on polyurethane in satin.  


Both lamps have the same four styles of glass.  We wanted to go with solid panels for our first design to give a modern look.  Plus, we used really special pieces of glass and couldn’t bear the thought of cutting them up in little pieces to go into a soldered glass design project.  We like staring at the large pieces because they are super cool looking!  Each one has something really special about it and together, they make a fantastic four-sided work of art.  They would be wonderful on a table that sits out away from the wall because then you could see them from all sides.  But if that isn’t possible, they are easy enough to just rotate from time to time so you can vary the look.  They give off a beautiful glow and for accent/mood lamps, make plenty of light. The open top and little gaps between the sides let just enough white light through to create interesting patterns on the ceiling and walls, too.  We love these things.  

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