Hurrah! I finished assembling the lamps for Filthy Lucre this afternoon. Above: 296 pieces of hand-painted glass, framed and soldered into brass channel.
Initial attempts at attaching the top sections inside a salad bowl…
…with masking tape holding the pieces of glass together.
Moving on to a cut-down 5 gallon plastic bucket and some masking tape; Necessity is the mother of invention! With some jig-sawed plywood (circle inside, and octagon on top) we made a perfect jig for soldering.
More plastic bucket, cut into bands to hold the center barrel of the lamp together. I bought a little Hakko 601 soldering iron that would fit inside the lamps for finishing the final seams. At this point everything is just tacked with blobs on the corners. I’m using 60/40 solder which seems to work just great with the brass.
Beginning to run solder the lengths of the seams. Notice the little jig screwed to the bench in the foreground for bordering the smallest pieces of glass. Also boxes of short brass channel.
This is the bottom of the lamp (upside-down on the table), where one removable pane will be positioned for ease of changing light bulbs. The L-shaped lip, soldered from eight pieces, has to be perfectly flat to hold the loose pane neatly in position. Calculating the exact size of each loose-fitting pane took a little experimentation. It had to fit through the opening edgewise, turned to lay flush with the brass lip, and then stay there without falling out.
Trying not to inhale zinc fumes given off when soldering brass.
Awkward! All soldering must be done on the inside so that the exterior remains brass. The gold colour is all part of the spirit of Filthy Lucre.
The first lamp completed, with a lathe-turned poplar ‘neck’ that provides a conduit for the wiring.
Period Lighting Fixtures of Clarksburg, Massachusetts sheared and crimped all the brass channel for me , and Chris Burda (my lamp building guru) advised on techniques and procedure. I learned a lot!
Filthy Lucre is the major artwork in Darren Waterstone’s upcoming exhibition Uncertain Beauty at MASS MoCA. Watch 2 min video with photos of Whistler’s original and some of Darren’s drawings, or his interview with Berkshire Fine Arts.