Sunday, 15 April 2012

High End Cactus Lanterns

Following a soulful and overwhelming blast into the world of Blog/ social networks across the web (of dest…r…creation) over the last couple of years; I can rest into the saddle and enjoy the materiality of the work again. Rather than hatching an idea, this is more a maturation stage and I am going to jump over to some of my 3D work for this article. After building up the foundations, to this blog, I have now opened up the comments section.
It is a characteristic of the cactus lantern to morph into different ways of being. They have formed a substantial history up to now and on this occasion, I will mention some further plans...

Cacti Manhattan
To see all pictures at their original size, click on the image once for the photo viewer.

Last summer the cactus lanterns were used to decorate the decking area for a birthday party, and more recently they have enjoyed pride of place at other party’s of various acquaintances and customers, including music gatherings and a 'Cowboys and Aliens' fancy dress party to which I arrived in full cowboy gear, spurs and all

They have even been used instead of Christmas trees by various customers…ourselves included! Together with my father and half brothers mutual appreciation of their own collection of my miniature cactus lanterns over Christmas time, and feedback from other proud owners, who have installed them above their fireplaces mostly…I felt…we haven’t seen the end of this!

To see all pictures at their original size, click on the image once for the photo viewer.

The cactus sheath is currently moulded and woven with mesh materials (Abaca: recycled from the fibrous banana plant stalk) using a polypropylene binder, (all fireproofed). This has been the most effective, light weight, long lasting and easily transportable way of making them. These are more suitable for events and can be made on mass relatively cheaply; the prices vary.

Next, I would like to make high end cactus lanterns. The sheaths would be made of glass (recycled bottles or the like), it would be instead of the binder, and still be amongst the amalgam of mesh materials. I would use those gorgeous vintage Victorian flower pots, gathered from old gardens, and then bid for on eBay. The cable ties for the spikes will remain; they are always kinder; anything else would be hazardous. (one would hate to find a small eye or something  impaled on the end of a REALLY INVENTIVE use of a silver fork...or similar). The endearing, intricately hand made quality of these lanterns and their many colours, shapes and sizes will be, as always: one offs made to measure.

I got the sudden spark of inspiration  from my step father last summer, who reminded me about his fathers verdant glass leafy green trees, amongst the mostly female dancing figures that he made. I have a link here to some great British Pathe footage: (Hungarian) Ivstan Kommaromy demonstrating his brilliant skills. I remember the glass work around the house when I was growing up, and I believe there is a small, though no way complete collection of his glass work at the V&A.

Throughout my journeys with cactus lanterns; I have grown very fond of them, they have provided a profitable advance just when I needed it, and have always been a reason for bringing all sorts of people together. A total of 22 lanterns were displayed in a cluster back in 2006 at The Candid Gallery Islington (also, some months before at The Fashion and Textiles museum, as part of the then ‘Eco Design Network’; I made just two for that). This was their debut into the art world and other non theatre arenas…I sold the remaining lanterns from the Candid fair to the education department of The National Theatre.

I visited the spring fair this year over at Candid in Islington, where there was some nice work, better still, it was good to chat to all of the exhibitors. I acquired some very helpful information as to specific places that enjoy the elemental joys of working with glass. I rest, assured that the V&A will be very useful too. A friend, a while back shared with me some tips on ‘glass slumping’, she makes beautiful lights that illuminate moulded parts from the human body, there is one in particular; that celebrates the penis as if it is a soft glowing angel floating in the light…it becomes less of a harsh monument than say...other such erections like Cleopatra’s needle.

To see all pictures at their original size, click on the image once for the photo viewer.

The Cacti in their varied forms have featured in clusters across dining halls, set up as headpieces for auditorium presentations, and hung from the ceilings of large dance spaces for high profile festivals. They would especially suit social areas, conferences, restaurants, cafes, bars, specialised parties and seasonal events, as well as private spaces. Special unique gifts and weddings nearly cap the list.

It will be a shift to get to grips grips with less familiar territory; this time…of glass, for specific use in making the high end cactus lantern. I'd like to see how it works, I imagine that they will be stunning as a set or an individual piece.

“Excellent, I want one!”

“Our table conversation over dinner would not have survived without such a glowing and exotic central piece…goodbye candelabra!”

“We always take great pleasure in our cactus lantern, which has pride of place on the dresser!”

 “These cactus lanterns…they make it into one of those nights that you will always remember…well, I would say that as I met my husband whilst dancing among their charming warmth!”

“Gwen in conversation with another exotic plant at the greenhouses of Kew Gardens a few years ago”…

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