Details of Rock and Roll Lamp construction

First up was Pink Floyd’s Division Bell, a straight forward “easy” design without a lot of complicated pieces. The challenge here was finding the right glass with the gradients of light to dark for creating the shadows on the sculptures. Also, the sky was cut from a single piece of glass so there was no room for error as I didn’t have any more of that glass. The eyes are made from drilled discs of red and yellow glass with a red pupil in the center. Since I couldn’t work copper foil into the tight interior of the yellow ring, I had to glue the red pupil in place with contact cement. Division Bell is an awesome album. I have listened to it myself many times.

Next I decided to tackle Janis Joplin. Rather than try to build the skin tones and shadows on her face and arms from various shades of glass, I decided to learn how to paint on fusing glass and have it kiln-fired for permanence. Ruby Malley at Stained Glass Creations by Ruby in Saint John was very helpful and encouraged me to experiment with both clear and white glass. I liked the results best from painting directly on white glass so I went with that. An interesting note is just how different these painted pieces look from day-time to night-time.

The Bruce Springsteen panel also had lots of skin tones for painting. Plus, the left corner of the American flag in the background was created using blue paint on white glass and kiln-fired. Also, I was very lucky to have on hand a piece of glass that, under light, matches the color of Bruce’s one-of-a-kind Fender Esquire guitar. He has used it in every live performance for over 40 years. I made the frets on the guitar neck out of little strips of copper foil and the whammy bar from a piece of 20 gauge wire.

Led Zeppelin was next. I had a piece of orange Spectrum Inferno that I was excited to use for the sun in the pattern. That glass is no longer available so I’m glad it went into such a worthy project. My first attempt at the blimp was with blue and black paint on yellow fusing glass. Getting the lines to look like blimp lines was a challenge and it took a couple of tries to get something reasonable. Even then, it did not come out of the kiln as expected. So, I scrapped that idea and rebuilt the blimp with long thin glass strips and copper foil technique. Also, there are three little copper foil embellishments throughout the panel so extra care was needed especially during cleaning and polishing.

The fifth and final panel was “Walk the Line”. Cutting up the pattern copy into tracing pieces revealed how delicately slim some of the flame pieces would be. A couple of times even when taking extra care and holding my breath, the brittle red glass just did not want to break along my score line. This made me go hmmmm! Johnny’s head, shoulders and guitar were created by painting on beige fusing glass and fired in the kiln. That was an exercise in and lessons learned in precise line painting.

After all the panels were soldered and I got a good look at them together, I decided to add a half-inch border around each one using black glass. Black nicely frames and separates the panels from each other. This is something I should have done before the panels were soldered, not after… had I thought of it (made more work for myself). Nevertheless, once finished, I moved on to build the cone cap. For interest and to allow some light upward, I incorporated a 30mm beveled jewel into each of the five sections of the cone cap. Purely experimental, I envisioned the lamp casting faceted spotlights onto the ceiling symbolizing the stardom of the musicians.

The tension (read excitement) grew as I began the final hours of construction. I tacked the five panels together upside-down so the top edges would all be perfectly even and allow the cone cap to sit flush. The order in which I placed them was to allow the best distribution of color around the lamp: Janis, Led Zeppelin, Bruce, Division Bell and Walk the Line. Once they were together, but still very flimsy, Monica helped me flip the entire pentagon topside-up with a couple of nervous moments scrambling to keep it from falling apart. Success! Thank you, Monica. Then with the cone cap attached, it started gaining strength. For extra strength, I soldered 20 gauge wires on the inside from the brass vase cap down each of the five seams and also all around the bottom edge.