Lumieres de la Nuit
art deco and arduino—old and new—combine

Unfortunately I can't talk a whole lot about this gorgeous piece, because I didn't do most of the work—my synergy partner, Sharon Wagner, did. As with so many successful collaborations, she came up with the original concept, which was inspired by an art-deco themed building, which dictated both the shape of the motifs as well as the color scheme.

My job, originally was to make these sort of pointy domed beads. The original ones were more organic in appearance, but I evidently didn't photograph them—however, they had red frit, rather than red stripes. But then Sharon realized that in order to turn the LEDs on and off (and change the battery) there had to be access to the back, which meant I had to make not just beads, but domes—in effect, goblet tops.

In other words, blown glass.

As is typical when my partners present me with these little opportunities to stretch outward, I ...whined about it. Looking over my correspondence with Sharon (which involves a great many excuses on my part) this project did at least force me to clear a lot of other projects off the decks in a more or less timely manner. Then I made a bunch of xmas ornaments, in order to get some boro/glassblowing practice in.

Finally I was ready to start on the little domes.

Here's the first lot. They're pretty bad. But I got to use my Jim Moore cup shears, finally.[1]

Being incurably lazy and timid, I didn't do the matching beads in boro—I used soft glass, because I'm more used to it:

gravity swirl beads in clear colorless and effetre 076 transparent red; drooped and shaped. No, it is not your imagination that the effetre red is oranger than the NS-8 ruby red on the domes. Note also that these beads do not have a truly conical shape, either, much to my annoyance.

They were too big. Meanwhile Sharon and I had met once, and she showed me some sample beadwork. My only comment was that if she wanted to evoke a really clean, art deco line, as for the inspiration:

Guardian building. I do not own this photo, so all rights reserved.

Sharon's original samples were made with some seed beads she had lying around, and my one other contribution to this project was to tell her she was gonna have to use delicas or similar to get the clean construction lines needed to evoke the graphic qualities of art deco.

Lumieres de la Nuit. Sharon Wagner and Sylvus Tarn, 2012. Glass, thread, arduino, LEDs, mirror. You can just barely see the striped reflections of the beads.

The current is actually passed through a tan thread from arduino to LEDs, which is what makes turning on this piece on possible. I have to say it brought to mind a scene from Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy, in which the technologically advanced sell some atomic necklaces to the fringes of the dying Empire. The rich society women love them, but they soon lose their power and die. (Hm. Think I'm somehow mixing this with a scene from Joan Vinge's Snow Queen, in which the dying Galactics zap all the technology of the Winters as they leave the planet Carbuncle through a closing stargate, pushing the ascendant Summers back to a technological barbarism. But at any rate, necklaces that light! Science Fiction made Real! In a project by (in a little way) Me!)

Back. Shows controller. In addition to peyote, Sharon also used ndebele for the backstraps of the beads. Not sure what the gold cord beadwork is.

All in all, I thought this was a splendid piece, though not through any genius of mine (rather the reverse); and was particularly fond of the triangular and hexagonal elements (e.g. the cover for the arduino.)

Collection of Sharon Wagner[2]

[1]I bought these after taking a sculptural lampworking class—they arrived the same day I got hit by a car, and I've yet to get back to doing the sculptural glass for which I purchased them. C'est la vie.

[2]Well, she did at least 75% of the work, after all...