Restoring historic buildings

Since 1965 the Landmark Trust has been saving historic buildings that are at risk, and giving them a new and secure future. This charity restores castles, forts, towers and cottages for self-catering breaks, which they appropriately describe as – ‘Holidays in History’.

The trust renovates old buildings and keeps them in good repair. They in turn depend on the survival of traditional craft skills and sympathetic restoration materials.

Their latest restoration project, visited by Lamps and Lights founder Denise Hatherly on a private open day in Devon, is the Winsford Cottage Hospital. The building was designed by notable Arts and Crafts architect C.F.A. Voysey who was a leading professional in the Arts and Crafts movement. The hospital was a gift to the local community by the wealthy philanthropist Maria Medley. From 1900 it served as a healthcare facility and enabled ordinary people to receive affordable medical treatment near to their homes for the very first time.

The architect strongly believed in designing all aspects and characteristics of the interior and exterior of the building. From the outside, Voysey’s approach can be recognised by the bespoke long horizontal runs of stone mullioned windows, which allowed fresh air to circulate through the rooms. The facade of the building has a definitive style of wide swept steep slate roof, and white roughcast walls, the former of which now requires urgent care and renovation.

Inside the cottage, decorative elements reflect the grace of the era; fireplaces and latches feature Voysey’s favorite element – the slightly elongated heart. The beautiful and notable architectural motif – his signature cast iron “Bird” and “Tree” can be seen on the ventilation grilles and play a significant part in producing a welcoming and friendly atmosphere. Another clear result of the amount of dedication the architect has bestowed upon forming these thoughtful details is Voysey’s careful layout.

Voysey indicated the purpose of every room with areas of men and women facing the sunny, south-facing garden, and the children’s ward with its view of the steam trains passing the nearby junction. Warm accents for example, Voysey’s original mosaic floor, laid throughout in tiny golden tiles, will require a lot of time and funds to restore as well as an expert craftsman.  Winsford Cottage Hospital is a true reflection of the amount of work and dedication Voysey bestowed upon

planning and forming his buildings. The hospital served the community until 1999, and during the Great War it became a haven for convalescing soldiers. After 1999 the building passed to a small local trust who became overwhelmed by the need for maintenance and viable use.

The Cottage Hospital now in desperate need of restoration will, with the Landmark’s skill, Lottery seed funding and further donations be returned to its former glory.

 

For more information please visit Landmark trust page:

Susie Watson’s tantalising interior designs in Cambridge

SusieWatson-DeniseHatherlyAn inspiring morning was spent with Susie Watson and Janet Strydom heading her team at the Cambridge branch of Susie Watson Designs for a coffee, meet and greet. We felt very lucky to meet this uniquely talented dynamic designer and we definitely came away feeling in awe and inspired!

Originally an architectural designer, Susie was inspired by her own personal experience of family life, primarily living in the kitchen as we often do, and wanting beauty in the function that surrounded her. Transforming a family, child friendly, practical home into a designed space suitable for a dinner party with just the flick of a tea towel – who says we can’t have both together, not Susie!

lampholders-Susie-Watson-DesignsAt the time, running an art gallery, Susie had that light bulb moment; realisation that she was experiencing as much pleasure in viewing a beautiful pottery toast rack as her wall-hung art, she discovered the pleasure of a well designed mundane daily object – a ‘thing of beauty is a joy forever’ –

mugs-at-Susie-Watson-DesignsI have to confess that sat there listening to Susie’s talk, cradling my beautiful mug filled with steaming coffee on a rainy November morning, I realised that it felt as comfortable in my hand as a perfectly designed ergonomic chair.

Apparently Susie’s favourite piece is the bees & stripes, but I couldn’t quite decide which mug spoke loudest to me as the whole range was calling my name.

cushions-at-Susie-Watson-DesignsHer inspiration comes from a love of the eclecticness of the old English country house, mixing stripes with flowers and spots with Paisley and more recently exploring the Indian theme with her new camels range.

Her brand is simply ‘homemaking’ where colour = happiness, being specific with colour is the downfall of many companies – whereas it is Susie’s specialty.

SWD-glass-lampSusie gets her subtleties absolutely spot on, spending vast amounts of time and hard work on getting each product right, which is precisely why Susie Watson Designs work!

Starting in humble beginnings at Northcutt road in 2008 and with a more glamorous shop in the very pretty market town of Marlborough (which still thrives as the hub today along with a further 6 more stores) Susie’s unique pottery designs were originally manufactured in Stoke on Trent, but now reside in Sri Lanka, where she firmly stands by her ethos to achieve unique, high standard pieces that are ethically sound.

tea-time-at-Susie-Watson-DesignsStarting her fabric collection with just tablecloths, made by a family factory in southern India who on ‘crying out for more work’ Susie put on her thinking cap and designed a whole fabric range for them to manufacture which now include her stunning cushions with the intricate embroidery all completed using a freehand wooden hoop with all the birds and flowers cut by hand.SWD-making

All the glass pieces are hand blown in north India with every fine detail etched by hand. Susie is immensely proud of the skilled workers employed to produce her intricate designs and is very aware of the costs and not unrealistic to her clientele and manufacturer alike.

All Susie’s wool is English wool from a mill in Leeds and with the closure of so many English woolen mills, the demand is high. Furniture is made by a highly sought after independent furniture maker in Preston as too are the curtains and blinds. The quality of the curtains show and Susie’s original design of lining using her striped material has now become a popular design feature.

Christmas-at-Susie-Watson-DesignsShe is immensely proud of the team behind her but Susie herself is the force, describing herself as fussy, she is behind every design, every shade, mixing the paint and designing every minute detail, if Susie doesn’t like it, it doesn’t get made, so it really is ‘her’ work. Her personality is in every piece, and it is this attention that has afforded her the perfection that surrounded us in the store.

SWD-glass-lampSo when you’ve reached perfection …
where to go next?

Susie laughs when she tells us she’d love to re-educate the British culture away from duvets and steer us towards stylish crisp cotton sheets with beautiful quilts, layering is so much better than fighting off an over-hot duvet and after yet another struggle to embrace that regular fight with the household duvet change, I’m inclined to agree.

And things for the future?

A question from one customer sparked the imagination and may mean you see in the future … embroidered spot voiles!

glass-lamp-02New ranges include the recently unveiled bespoke service available on pottery, inscribed with your wedding date to Christmas stockings and even personalised dog beds, which are totally scrummy.dog-bed-at-Susie-Watson-Designs

Coming soon is a range of charcoal painted lamps to flourish the grey range and 2016 will see the Cambridge store appoint its own personal interior designer available for home visits bringing just a little taste of Susie into your home, and who wouldn’t want that!

Wilton’s Music Hall, The Oldest Grand Music Hall

wiltons lights “the most important surviving early music hall to be seen anywhere… It is of outstanding architectural and archaeological significance” – The Theatre’s Trust.

wiltons exteriorWhen we were approached to supply a variety of lighting hardware for this regeneration project we were intrigued by such an undertaking. Steeped in history we just had to make a visit to see where our lighting would end up.

It’s not an easy place to find, a little alleyway off a side street, Wilton’s Music Hall incorporates all 4 of the 1690s terrace houses on Graces Alley, but once found, on walking up to the building you cannot fail to ‘feel’ the place.

Number 1 Graces Alley was the first ale house dating from early 18th century and was known locally as The Mahogany Bar, due to being the first pub to install a mahogany bar and fittings. Wiltons barIt was in 1839 when a concert room was built behind the pub before John Wilton bought the business in 1850 and combined all four back yards to create the first music hall in place of the concert room. 1859 saw the start of Wilton’s Music Hall as he replaced the existing with his ‘Magnificent New Music Hall’ which has remained more or less unchanged, despite being plagued by tragedies.

wiltons standA serious fire in 1877 left just the four walls and the ten barley twist columns (that still support the balcony) but the hall was rebuilt within just one year with little change from the original design. Sadly in 1881 Wilton’s Music Hall had to close its doors as a licensed music hall due to the rebuild not conforming to the new fire regulations brought in that year.

mahogany bar entranceWilton’s was bought by the East London Methodist Mission in 1888 where it performed a star role as a soup kitchen feeding the starving dockers’ families during the Great Dock Strike. The Mission remained open for nearly 70 years, but suffering bombing during the London Blitz, it closed it’s doors in 1956 when the building was then used for a time as a sorting warehouse for the rag trade.

A campaign in the 1960s, led by theatre historian, John Earl, along with John Betjeman and the newly formed British Music Hall Society, fought to save the building from demolition. The building was bought by Greater London Council and remained standing, but empty and unused and suffered severe structural damage. It wasn’t until 1970 when Spike Milligan joined the campaign and and the first charitable trust, The London Music Hall Trust was formed that this curiously important building was declared grade 2 listed.

playhouse doorwayDespite still being in a state of semi-dereliction, this was part of it’s charm, music and stage artists were drawn to its invoking aura. The building was used for many films such as Isadora and Chaplin in 1992 and video shoots for Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax 1984 and Annie Lennox’s No more I love You’s in 1986. The Music Hall’s own promotional flyers of the time referred to it’s state of disrepair and included recommendations as ‘please dress warmly’ and play reviews were quoted as saying ‘wear hard hats’.

cabinet of curiositiesIt wasn’t until 1999 that The Wilton’s Music Hall Trust was formed and after much fundraising and donations Wilton’s raised the £2.6 million required to repair the houses of Graces Alley which make up Wilton’s front of house.vaulted ceiling

On our visit, a year before its completion, it was highly apparent that the restoration was being carried out with such compassion. Despite rehearsals being in full swing we were allowed a quick sneaky preview at the work in process, admiring the magnificent domed ceiling as we tip-toed our way through the barley twist columns in the relative darkness. rehearsal chairs

In carrying out the building work, a policy of ‘conservative repair’ has been followed which means ‘retaining genuine historic fabric and avoiding misleading restoration, so that future generations can interpret the significance for themselves in their own way, based on the physical evidence’.

quirky staircaseThe charming facade remains along with the exposed brick work, crumbling paintwork and quirky entrances, it all adds to the historic atmosphere.

The project is now complete and Wilton’s Music Hall is fully open to the public and well worth a trip. A recent Guardian article quotes “Tucked behind a row of terraces, this vast barrel-vaulted venue is the East End’s best-kept secret. Now, thanks to an overhaul that leaves the tattiness intact, a beguiling Tardis of Victoriana is open for business once more”.

box officeWiltons bar 2We highly recommend you pay this stunning building a visit.
Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley E1 8JB

Check out their What’s On list, watch a play, have a drink in the bar, peruse the exhibition in the John Wilton room on the ground floor, see if you can spot our Lamps and Lights light fittings 😉 and immerse yourself back in time.
It’s good to see you back on top Wilton’s!

Turning the Tables

Our fabulous funky coloured fabric braided flex is used in many ways, not just in lamps and lighting. We have seen it used on telephones for period dramas, in radio restoration and now a turntable!
Lamps and Lights’ customer Kevin Taggerty tells us about his creation …
Garrard_ZERO100_SB

Project: Garrard Zero100 SB turntable

Playing proper ‘albums’ is my preferred way of listening to music, and I have several turntables. The most recent purchase is the oldest, an American built Garrard Zero100 from the seventies which looks gorgeous with its brushed aluminium plinth and chrome details.  I saw it in an electrical exchange shop window and simply had to have it!

Garrard_ZERO100_SB_croppedBecause of it’s age it was not playing well – factory applied oils and grease had thickened or dried up affecting the speed, and on the first long playing it stopped altogether. However, the American motors in these turntables are known to be strong so I guessed it was simply a matter of servicing.  The existing cable was a discoloured and stiffened ubiquitous three core round white (well I assume it used to be white, it was more of a creamy beige in places), so I decided to re-wire it at the same time.
Because the mains power lead is connected directly to the underside of the deck which sits on four springs, I considered that the more flexible the cable was, the less it would affect the turntables ‘suspension’, and a three core cable that could be separated easily into three strands where it enters the base at the back seemed like a good idea to me.  So I looked on the internet for ‘three core cable’ and found Lamps and Lights, and a range of colours to choose from.
Garrard_ZERO100_SB_close-upI decided not to make a feature of the cable (as attractive as it is), and judged from the website photographs that the ‘Grey’ would compliment the brushed aluminium and was delighted with the colour when it arrived.  I found an old-fashioned looking, but modern, shiny hard-black-plastic plug which finished it off nicely and now the turntable looks as good as it sounds.
We thank Kevin, an artist and designer for sending us this lovely article about the design of his fantastic project. You can follow him on Twitter @KevinTaggerty.
We look forward to his next idea…

Doug Campbell, highly talented Artist Blacksmith at work

Doug Campbell first came to our attention when he became a customer of Lamps and Lights when working on the MOST STUNNING metal work lamp. His unique work caught our eye and we were were very pleased when he responded to our request of knowing more details. Here’s what he has to say.

Me at power hammer. Etsy BannerI am a traditionally trained British Artist Blacksmith living and working in Hertfordshire. Having studied for two years under Master Blacksmith Michelle Parker FWCB (Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths) I continued to gain skills and experience working under the guiding hand and tutelage of Master Blacksmith Steven Rook.

Cold WorkingIn the latter part of 2013 I began working as an independent artist blacksmith, completing both private and public commissions and displaying my work in galleries like the ArtWorks art gallery in Lark Lane Liverpool, where I continue to display my work and occasionally demonstrate my craft to the general public. I often get a very good response from the demonstrations that I do, I show how some of the more traditional items a blacksmith would have been known for making are made, items such as fire tools, hooks, spoons etc.

Antiqued Double Candle SconceThere are many things that influence and inspire me in the work that I do in the forge. Much of the inspiration is drawn from traditional tribal art work and artefacts. I am particularly interested in the cultures and artistry of the head hunting tribes of Borneo, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Alongside the inclusion of indigenous peoples’ art and motifs I am also influenced in my designs by the organic shapes and forms to be found in bio-mechanical art and the sculptural forms and functions of the Art Nouveau Carla Lillie Fire Poker & Rake Set with Leaf Set. (Private commission)period, I find the fluid organic shapes and designs to be visually very powerful yet often very simple. René Lalique was an exponent of this naturalistic style in his early jewellery and glass designs, before gaining further renown in the 1920s for his glassware in the Art Deco style which; in many ways; was ahead of its time.

I have a particular fondness for the metal working technique of Repoussé, which is the method of decorating metals in which parts of the design are raised in relief from the back of the piece by means of hammers and punches; definition and detail can then be added from the front by chasing or engraving. The name Repoussé is derived from the French pousser, “to push forward.” Working of the metals is done on lead blocks, sandbags and for smaller gauged sheet and copper working, the piece being worked is set in pitch. This ancient technique, which has been used all through the history of metalworking, had heavy use in Europe during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.Three Rose Jewellery Stand (private commission)

Orchid Lamp 1I use this method to create detailed organic forms that can either stand alone or be used in conjunction with hot forged work; an example of the two techniques meeting in my work would be the Orchid Lamp.

This lamp was hand forged out of mild steel, using repouse techniques for the Orchid head, it then had a base treatment called bitumenisation, where the whole piece was placed into the forge with fresh coal on the fire, which produces a high bitumen smoke. This process leaves a silky black sheen to the piece it is then rubbed down to enhance the detailing, The final finish coat is a clear wax.Orchid Lamp group

The Orchid lamp was used as part of an opening show for a series of craftsman demonstrations over four weekends, it got a fantastic reception!!

Often the creative process that I go through to make a piece either for a client, gallery or private sale begins on the drawing board, with a concept sketch which then develops through to the final working drawing. Another common part of the process will include making templates or sometimes sized models to ensure a well-balanced piece; the development of the piece often continues to develop during the making process especially for designs that have a particular organic feel, as sometimes these pieces may look fantastic on a 2 dimensional drawing but may look slightly uneven once it starts to take its solid form.

Finish is a very important part of a piece for any artist and no more so than for someone, whose pieces would if not finished correctly, start to degrade and become a rusty mess! The finish for each piece depends on where it is going to be kept and what it will be used for.

HAND FORGED COAT HOOKS WITH COPPER RIVET DETAILINGMost of the gallery and internal pieces that I do have been finished in the smoke of a coal fire, as the fresh coal produces a very heavy and high bitumen content smoke, a piece that is placed in this smoke and allowed to cool will then be covered in an even layer of black bitumen with a satin none sticky finish, which is then rubbed down to reveal the detailing that has been put in to the piece during the forging process. The pieces are then generally finished with either two coats of wax or a lacquer.

armour-groupI produce a photographic diary of each piece being made for private clients so they can see their commission being born in either regular updates or all at once in a file at the end of the commission.

My latest piece is a floor standing candlestick that is going up to Glasgow and is based on the coat of arms of the city, which itself is based on the miracle legends of St.Mungo, the founder of Glasgow.

Doug Campbell - videoLeft is a video showing the forging of a stool with a drift wood seat.

Here at Lamps and Lights we greatly admire Doug’s work and should you wish to get in touch you can email him at : caimbuelsforge@gmail.com
www.caimbuelsforge.co.uk

Me as a Blacksmith on the set of Ron Howards new fil Heart of the SeaAnd we just had to add in our favourite photo of Doug, as the Blacksmith on the set of Ron Howard’s new 2015 film Heart of the Sea … Looking mighty fine Doug …
You can check him out on his new Facebook page at
www.facebook.com/caimbeulsforge

Theatre & Panto – set the stage

Our increasing customer base in the film, TV and theatre industry is totally exciting for us here at Lamps and Lights. From big blockbuster films such as Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and the yet to be released Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, to the UK’s most popular period TV dramas and our newest kids (customers) on the block, set designers, providing superb lighting for all styles and eras in all manner of stage productions. mrs henderson presents

TWO CLEVER BY HALF-royal exchangeWith this growing demand we love seeing our lighting products used not just in the theatres themselves lighting the dressing room mirrors and auditoriums; one being the current refurbishment of Wilton’s Music Hall, but by the props departments in many of today’s stage plays. With customers such as the Abbey Arts Centre, Rose Theatre, the Royal Opera House, Almeida Theatre and even the Farrer Theatre at Eton College. We are proud to be regular suppliers to Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre with our lighting ‘starring‘ in many plays; creating a period 1950’s look in Orpheus Descending by Tennessee Williams and in the play Two Clever By Half, who would know that underneath all that shade is hiding all manner of our light parts 😀

We played a ‘flexible’ role in the fantastical chandelier designed by William Dudley in the West End production of ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre and keep a ‘brass’ eye – yes, that’s a clue🙂 out for us in Ghost Stories, written by theatreThe League of Gentlemen’s Jeremy Dyson, and Andy Nyman is a scream of a roller coaster ride of thrills and shrills all at London’s West End Arts Theatre. You can see a review by moviegrrl reviews here and now with an extended run till March 2015 you can be chilled with laughter for even longer!

We supply our lighting products to small reps, West End productions and grand opera houses, and now we can include pantomimes, the stalwart of festive frivolity. stamford arts ctr pantoFor those less familiar with this very British tradition (did you know there is even a ‘National Panto Day’) Pantomime is a stage tradition of theatre actually dating back to 16th/17th century Italy with the commedia dell’arte and the Masques festive pageant developing into today’s seasonal musical slapstick comedy highly encouraging, if not demanding (oh no it isn’t) audience participation, which is unique to pantomime and a far cry from the usual classic productions.

peter panNow a unique production for the  21st Century is being unleashed, the latest in Pantomime theatre; Peter Pan Goes Wrong, the story of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale of Peter Pan, but with a twist. From the creators of the West End smash hit comedy The Play that Goes Wrong, the award-winning comedy company; Mischief Theatre, this hilarious new alternative pantomime is the story of accident prone thespians of Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they venture into Neverland and so ensues two acts of hysterical disaster. Traveling all over the country until July 2015, catch it at a theatre near you!

‘Spot the Lamp’ in period dramas

With the likes of Midsomer Murders, Doc Martin and Prime Suspect etc, British detective dramas have generally involved contemporary settings (ignoring the Agatha Christie classics of course). Many, adapted from novels, focus on the investigation, procedure and character development rather than the setting or the glitz and glamour maybe of the American market.Grantchester Filming However, the success of the likes of Inspector George Gently and Father Brown has encouraged a recent increase in the number of period crime dramas. The engaging appeal of vintage vehicles, costume and interiors, not to mention the irresistible trapping of customary period policing, as a nation we just can’t resist them.©ITV All images are Copyright of LOVELY DAY PRODUCTION and Pictures can only be used in relation to GRANTCHESTER 2014. For more info please contact patrick.smith@itv.com or call 0207157 3044

The latest detective drama series from ITV, based on the books written by James Runcie is Grantchester. Set in the 1950s in our very own local Cambridgeshire village of the same name, the unorthodox whiskey drinking, smoking, progressive Anglican vicar Sidney Chambers (played by, and may I say a somewhat dashing, James Norton) develops a tantalising sideline in amateur sleuthing helping the reluctant grumpy Geordie detective (Robson Green) and it was exciting to witness some of the drama firsthand.
aged lightingsOur vintage range of lighting parts mean we are very lucky to be involved in the TV & Film industry and it was an absolute pleasure to be a supplier of period lighting in ‘Grantchester’. It has become a bit of party game now at Lamps and Lights with ‘Spot the Lamp’. Sunday night is Downton Abbey, now Monday it’s Grantchester. schoolhouse-white-glass-hang-lit-brass-fittings

Thank goodness we have a break from Call the Midwife and Upstairs Downstairs or we would be spending every evening in front of the box! Though with the DIY shows being regular customers of ours; DIY SOS and a new 60 Minute Makeover soon to be released it’s just another reason to draw the curtains, put the kettle on, cosy up on the sofa and put my feet up for a spot of ‘eye spy’ 🙂antique brass prismatic glass table lamp

Audley End House Refurb 2014

What a lovely week it’s been and the sun shining down only made our trip to Audley End House even more pleasurable as the impressive stately home stood proud against the back drop of the glistening river Cam set in quintessential English idyl countryside.audley end gardensThe reason for our visit was to see the unveiling of the £1.1m project by English Heritage as new rooms; the nursery suite and coal gallery are unveiled. A watercolour was found of Lucy’s bedroom and formed the base of the transformation along with fragments of the original vine trellis wall paper. Transported back to the 1830s when the 3rd Lord and Lady Braybrooke and their young family were living at the house, the nursery suite provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of the eight children as they once were, delving into the story of childhood in a Victorian country house.nursery roomsThe restoration of the nursery rooms came to our attention some time ago when an order came in to us here at Lamps and Lights. It’s always nice to know when our products are used in restoration projects of such like English Heritage and National Trust properties, so it was our pleasure to spend the day exploring this marvelous, once royal, residence.

N090514Pretty much on our doorstep as just over the Cambridge border into Essex, Audley End House in Saffron Walden has such an amazing history. First built as an Abbey by monks it saw many a change of ownership and downsizing.

Walden Abbey was a 12C Benedict Monastery when in 1538 Henry VIII gave it away to Lord Audley for converting into his family home. It was extensively remodelled in early 17C to accommodate the King, the very unusual twin front porches highlight the unusually symmetrical state apartments of the King and Queen’s North and South wings, rivalling neighbouring Hatfield House. Bought by Charles II in 1666 as a ready made palace it was later returned to the Howard family by William III who deemed it “too old fashioned”. The Howard family reduced its size immensely, from palace to stately home and it became merely the ‘winter home’ of the family’s many residences.
GreatHall 2The house has had an eventful history with many an important name attached; Capability Brown and Robert Adam‘s work can both still be seen in places. But it was in 1825 when the estate was passed to Lord Braybrooke that the original Jacobean character was recovered and is how it can mainly be seen today. After decades of slow disrepair Audley End House and Gardens served as the Special Operations secret headquarters to the Polish Army during the Second World War, it was then purchased for the nation by English Heritage from the 9th lord Braybrooke in 1948 for £30,000 with all the interior furnishings left on loan.

The grandeur inside is astonishing with ornate ceilings, Gothic chapel, silk-lined walls and all the original paintings. I was totally unaware of the importance of such a ‘house’ and it was a delight to learn about this little piece of local history.

The Beauty of Glass and Light

For centuries, glass & light have gone hand in hand, one couldn’t work without the other, with the science of refraction highlighting each others beauty.
Dating back to the 16th century, the forerunners of chandeliers were obviously lit by candles and due to their imposing stature were predominantly found in medieval churches and monasteries. The original crystal chandeliers were actually made of transparent quartz, so irregular in shape. It wasn’t until the end of the 17thC that chandeliers used polished glass enabling uniformity, with the classic teardrop shape coming into fashion.

katie brown 01Now in the 21st century we are seeing a resurgence in the popularity of chandeliers and not solely in large house restoration, but in modern space new creations, though often with a twist. Due to more sophisticated techniques, today’s designers are able to be creative with their glass and as such we are now seeing the new beautiful classic designs of our time.
Katie Brown​, ​a New Zealand glassblower who ​specializes in lighting​ is one of only a small handful of full-time female glass blowing artists in New Zealand.

katie brown 03

Whilst studying, ​Katie travelled​ to Massachusetts to become part of​ the glassmaking team of ​internationally renowned American glass artist, Josh Simpson. After three years working in the United States, Katie moved to England where she worked with environmental glass artist Neil Wilkin. Having her own workspace alongside Wilkin enabled her to produce her own work, gaining invaluable tutelage in the process. ​Now a pivotal member of Chronicle Glass Studio, the only open glass studio in the Whanganui, Manawatu Wellington region, much of Katie’s work is inspired by the natural world and this is reflected within her use of hot glass. Through her use of colour and cold techniques, her pieces display a delicate sense of structure. Katie’s work reflects her versatility, producing a variety of pieces ranging from jewellery to goblets, bowls, platters and ambient lighting.
katie brown 02​Katie produces an extraordinary range of chandelier options and her work can be seen in international cities all over the world. You can see more of the dynamic work of Katie Brown Glass at her website www.katiebrownglass.co.nz.

dh libery nemoThese modern practices in glass blowing are providing today’s designers with new innovation. One such designer, a favourite customer of Lamps and Lights, is ​Dara Huang of Design Haus Liberty, an architectural and design firm situated in Notting Hill’s Westbourne Grove.


dh liberty 02

​The daughter of a NASA scientist, Dara grew up in multi-cultural surroundings influenced by living in places like Tokyo, Basel and New York City. With an artistic background in mixed media and sculpting, Dara received her Masters Degree in Architecture at Harvard University.​
An admitted life-long student across disciplines, ​Dara contributed to the new Tribeca skyscraper​ in New York City; The New Tate Modern Museum in London and Manolo Blahnik stores worldwide. ​

Today, Design Haus Liberty is run as a studio-environment, always seeking new talent and open to creative design ideas with one of their latest creations at Analog Folk, an advertisement agency in East London; below ‘Think Tank’ room.

dh libertyTake a look at the DH Liberty website, offering bespoke architectural light sculptures they are currently in the process of producing a new light feature which will be installed in New York City in Autumn this year. Their work shows just how modern chandeliers can be just as striking in their setting as the classic crystal chandeliers of centuries past.
dh liberty raindrop chandelier

Winding back the clock

Vintage radios, televisions and telephones are quite beautiful and when fully restored make a stunning display for the home.

“This is the BBC Home Service and here is the News …”

roberts radioBecoming increasingly popular, as manufacturers produce reproductions based upon past designs like the iconic 1960’s Roberts transistor, it’s not surprising to find an increase in the real pieces being lovingly restored and updated to work within modern society’s needs.

38defiant1It is now more than seventy years since it first became possible to learn about world events as they happened on the family ‘wireless’ with names such as McMichael, Cossor, His Master’s Voice and Marconiphone heading up the illuminated tuning dials with which our grandparents and great-grandparents could tune into the world.

Radios of all styles and ages from the 1920s to the 1970s can be restored and unlike many modern ‘black boxes’, these ‘electronic antiques’ are as good to look at as they are to listen to, their individual designs and beautiful materials mark them out as highly desirable collectors items.

bluebirdOne restorer customer of Lamps and Lights is Radiocraft, based here in the UK with many a successfully restored radio, TV and phonogram under their belt. They are able to give new life to sets such as 1940s radio-gramophones, Gecophone ‘Smokers Cabinets’ and Baird 30-line televisors. Here’s a stunning example of the Sparton Bluebird, an extremely rare American radio from 1936 which, after a complete electronic restoration, is possibly the only example in the UK.

702_pAlso among the prestige list Steve has restored a very rare pre-war Marconiphone 702  Television set which represents the very birth of a technology itself having since transformed the world. In the future, this will be seen as an incredibly rare and historically significant artifact.

Steve Ostler of Radiocraft says “Restoration of such an item is a gift;  ‘winding back the clock’ so the end-result does not appear ‘restored’ but instead, closely resembles the state it was in when new. It falls to our generation to preserve and enhance this heritage for the centuries to come.”

msAnother intriguing and rather special project from Radiocraft is this strange-looking device called a Mirror Screw, a display device for colour television. The screw consists of a series of edge-polished strips of stainless steel. The position of each strip differs slightly from its neighbour. The screw rotates and a thin pencil of varying light is reflected by it.

60-line_mirror_screw_1In this way a television picture is built up, line by line. When the screw is rotating fast enough, we see a picture conjured out of thin air. It is seen in its case producing a 12-inch, 60-line television picture with sound! The picture appears as if it’s coming from deep within the screw and unlike mechanical televisors, the mirror screw is capable of delivering entertainment to groups of people at the same time.

To feed a signal to the mirror screw, Steve needed to purchase a WC-01 ‘World Converter’ from Darryl Hock in the United States. A spin-off result is Radiocraft now has the capacity to generate any type of television signal, from any era, from anywhere in the world.

So, once restored, how do you keep your set looking ‘tip top’?

  • Use Meltonian shoe polish, available in several colours this leaves a great finish for Rexene covered radios.
  • Leather sofa cream works well on the classic Roberts radio now experiencing a popular revival.
  • Do not to clean Bakelite with detergents as it removes the top layer.
  • Use proper Bakelite polish or Brasso with a thin layer of wax after polishing to give the perfect finish.

So sit back, put your feet up, enjoy a stroll down memory lane and tune your dial to the Archers 🙂