Oak & Mica Lamp
A blend of Arts & Crafts and Asian design influences.
by Ken Burton
My design sense and influences are pretty eclectic. I draw on a wide variety of sources and enjoy mixing things up a bit. In keeping with popular culture, I think this is referred to as a “mash up.” Today’s young people are quite good at it, and sometimes like to think they invented the process. But as I think about it, people who design and make things have been doing this for years – taking details and ideas from one source and combining them with details and ideas from another.
Consider this lamp, for example. In some ways it is a fairly traditional design. It certainly recalls the Arts & Crafts style that was popular in this country about 100 years ago. In particular, I drew influence from the Greene brothers, architects who worked in and around Pasadena, Calif., designing and building some splendid examples of Arts & Crafts-style houses and furniture. But when you start looking into their training and design influences, you find that they, in turn, drew on other cultures for inspiration – notably traditional Japanese architecture. So in effect, they were “mashing up” things when they built such masterpieces as the Gamble House.
With all that being said, this little accent lamp will add a nice warm glow to almost any room regardless of the style of the rest of the furnishings. I chose to make mine in white oak with amber mica to play up the Arts & Crafts connection, but I think it would look stunning in a dark walnut with silver mica panels or even in curly maple with frosted glass in place of the mica. As you think about building this lamp, consider taking a few risks and doing a little mashing up of your own.
Construction is pretty simple, though you’ll need to make some precise cuts. The top is mitered together, while the four frames that make up the front, back and sides are assembled with lap joints.
Cut the pieces for the top frame to the thickness and width stated in the cutlist but leave them long for now. Set your miter gauge to 45˚ and cut the pieces to length, mitering them in the process. Use a stop to control the lengths of the pieces as shown above. Glue the frame together. Gluing mitered frames is a tricky business at best. I find using two pairs of clamps allows me to fine-tune the clamping pressure as shown above at right.
From the June 2012 issue #197.
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