Rock & Roll Lamp

My good friend and long time co-instructor at NBCC in St. Andrews, Rod Carney, is a die-hard rock & roll music fan (like me). He contacted me in summer 2017 to discuss an idea we had talked about in the past; a lamp depicting some of his favorite rock & roll icons. I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do fan-art like this so I jumped at the opportunity.

Originally the plan was for a tapered 5-panel shade but later it changed to a cylindrical 5-panel shade with vertical sides and a cone cap. This was so the panels could retain their square “album cover” shape and so seated viewers could see the panels better.

Rod had already narrowed his list of 60 potential images down to a dozen that he really liked when he came to see me. Together we reviewed each one for its “glass friendliness” and decided on three of the five final images. The subjects for the other two panels were chosen but Rod left it to me to find material that I could work with in glass.

Here are the five selected images spanning five decades of rock music:

  • Janis Joplin – cover of the 1975 album “Janis”
  • Bruce Springsteen – image from the 1984 “Born in the USA” tour
  • Pink Floyd – cover of the 1994 album “Division Bell”
  • Johnny Cash – poster for the 2005 movie “Walk the Line”
  • Led Zeppelin – cover of the 2012 album “Celebration Day”

For details on the actual construction of each panel and final assembly, click here.

Taking about 175 hours over six weeks and involving over 400 pieces of glass, this project really challenged me at every phase of construction and I was absolutely driven by the anticipation. I made a few minor mistakes … some of which I corrected and some of which… let’s just call them good lessons. I tried a new technique, glass painting, and I felt the full emotional range from despair to delight. I like this new technique even though I still have much to learn about painting on glass. I look forward to that.

In the end, I was very pleased with the results. It looks bigger in real life than it did on paper… that pentagon shape is deceiving! Plus the fact that the panels grew to 12″ square with the addition of the borders. Also, the shade is very heavy (14 pounds) so a sturdy lamp pole and base is definitely required. Visually, the colors are striking with reds and blues predominating. The mix of colors from one image to the next really carries the eye around the shade giving it a “lots-to-see” quality.

Such an unusual lamp; provocative and mysterious… but for those who know their classic rock music, nostalgic and grounded. Especially interesting that it covers five decades of music, the Rock & Roll Lamp is definitely one-of-a-kind and that was Rod’s vision from the start. I’m extremely honored to build it for him and very grateful for the opportunity to further develop my craftsmanship.

Below is a photo gallery showing highlights from the construction of each panel and shade assembly.

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