Light variation

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GordonM
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat May 16, 2020 5:12 pm

Light variation

Post by GordonM »

I wanted to build a theater light like the one at Taliesin Spring Green. Mrs. Wright gave the plans to Don Lovness many years ago and he built one that was by the studio front door. The dimensions, however, are fussy and complicated, so I adapted those plans to modern materials (who makes Philippine mahogany plywood anymore?), and standard dimensions like 1 x 4 maple (3/4 x 3-1/2") rather than the 4" boxes called for. I dropped the vertical wings as well, after cutting two separate sets of them. Too darn much work. After two months I have what I consider a nice prototype, and I may start over to create a really nice one. Some day. In the meantime, it has proven to be a marvelous mood piece in our living room and the LED puck lights came with a remote for on/off and dimming. It even has some disco flashing modes that Virginia Lovness would have loved.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pTNMHm ... sp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1WuJbAS ... sp=sharing
Last edited by GordonM on Fri Apr 09, 2021 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SDR
Posts: 20382
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

I look forward to seeing what you've made, Gordon. If others besides me have trouble accessing them at Google Drive, you may certainly send me your images for posting.

Steve

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

Gordon provides a photo of his new light fixture, and one of the fixture near the entrance to the Lovness Studio:


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Last edited by SDR on Fri Apr 09, 2021 9:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

SDR
Posts: 20382
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

There are numerous versions of the Wright pole lamp; I have not yet determined when and where the first one appeared. Neither David Hanks (1979) nor Diane Maddex (1999) treats it; Thomas Heinz give us this picture of one at the Lloyd Lewis house, and mentions others at the Smith and Lovness residences---without providing dates.

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The purpose of the two fingers which extend from the horizontal box surrounding each socket and hiding the light source, was to engage square blocks attached to the pole (and often painted red)---Wright's clever means of making the box easily removable, and secure when in place. Others have used those fingers differently---or ignored their use without omitting them from the design, as Don Lovness did in the twinned pole lamps he built for the Studio and the Cottage.

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Simon Clay photo

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Norman McGrath photo

A fixture offered by a Japanese maker of fine reproductions of Wright fixtures shows a double-pole version in which the fingers penetrate rectangular holes in the poles---a more labor-intensive method of holding the boxes, if one not as easily able to keep the boxes level unless the fit between the fingers and their holes is exceedingly precise ? I do not know if the prototype for this version can be found in Wright, though I have to assume that it does if Yamagiwa is making it.

https://www.skinnerinc.com/auctions/2830B/lots/382

In that version some extra verticals are introduced, whose purpose seems to be to support the horizontal light baffles between the boxes. In Gordon's fixture these would be redundant, as he has used the lower pair of box fingers to attach each baffle. Neat !

S

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
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Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

Early photos of the Hillside theater are almost non-existent, apparently, and latter-day photographs seldom capture one of these lights. (The history of the presence, and perhaps the replacement, of these lights has yet to be written ?) One photo however can be compared to the 1933 drawing of the not-yet-built project. In the drawing can be seen two dependent objects that must be the first glimmerings of the pole lamp; they are only sketches, not readable yet as three-dimensional objects---a rare example of the conceptual process expressed on paper ? Many forms and details in the drawing can be found in the photograph; the pendant fixtures however are incomplete.

So, a 1933 drawing, a 1933 photo, and a 1992 Pedro Guerrero photograph, all showing (if vaguely, or distantly) a version of the fixture. In addition, we have Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer's description of the new space (p 232 of Taschen Complete Works II):

" One of the most delightful features was the long, pendant lights that hung down from the high ceiling above. Composed of horizontal slats of dark-stained oak projecting from wooden boxes, they emitted a soft, indirect light, almost the quality of candlelight."


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photo © Pedro Guerrero

Paul Ringstrom
Posts: 4453
Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 4:53 pm
Location: Mason City, IA

Re: Light variation

Post by Paul Ringstrom »

The 1933 B&W photo above does not resemble the color photo below as the same room. Had it been extensively remodeled in the interim?
Owner of the G. Curtis Yelland House (1910), by Wm. Drummond

JimM
Posts: 1584
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Re: Light variation

Post by JimM »

The first theater was destroyed "accidentally" in 1952 by Wright burning a pile of leaves nearby.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10657
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Light variation

Post by Roderick Grant »

That was the fire Geiger claimed to be virtual arson.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

Paul's question deserves an answer in depth. I'm not aware of a comprehensive history of the Hillside Theater. If the story has been told, with illustrations, I would be interested to see it. Perhaps Keiran Murphy has written on this; perhaps someone else has assembled the material.

S

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Light variation

Post by Roderick Grant »

Geiger was obsessed with Hillside. He made many drawings of it, and wrote about it. I never saw much of this, but assume it has gone to U of M with the rest of his archive.

SDR
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Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

Pfeiffer is helpful in his notes about the 1952 theater, in Monograph 8; he describes the work involved with the new roof and its unique fireproofing (to which he was a hands-on witness, apparently). The Artstor file is replete with many studies of the wall-to-roof connection. There is a page prepared by the Ludowici-Celadon company, with elevations of hipped roofs at two pitches (and with no unsightly hip cap, accomplished with a corner tile butted to special-width running tiles).

S

KevinW
Posts: 1288
Joined: Sun Feb 06, 2005 6:41 pm

Re: Light variation

Post by KevinW »

In Bob Beharka's archives, in his oral history he talks about the hanging lamp rebuild, he called it the Stalaglight.
He mentions Wright being away, this must be 1953 or 1954 he was given the task to rebuilt and install the lamp that was damaged in the fire.
He said Jack Howe showed him what to do down in the basement shop. Jack had built the original lamp, but Bob's woodworking skills were well known by the Fellowship.
He talks about the first time he flipped the switch turning it on the the dark shop. He said it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever seen.
He eventually built a full scale copy for his home in California, and a half size version that was above his dining table. That one was returned to Bob's house several years ago.
KevinW

SDR
Posts: 20382
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

Thank you, Kevin; very helpful information. There are five drawings of related light fixtures in the files, under Hillside. All these drawings are dated 1933. The theater lights are generally as seen in photos; the light boxes project alternately in opposite directions from the vertical support, which consists of a pair of boards in the same plane. The dining room light pendant, on the other hand, consists of a diamond-shaped hollow vertical member, with the light boxes projecting alternately in two directions at right angles to each other---creating an eccentric load on the support member.

In all cases the three-sided light boxes terminate in a pair of "fingers"; these, or the sides of the boxes, are notched into (as opposed to penetrating) the thin secondary verticals. In the theater fixtures these boxes do penetrate the primary supports, however. In the dining room pendants, the box sides are notched into the diamond-section primary support.


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"Pendant lights D.R."
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"Theater Chandelier"
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"Dining Room Light"
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A drawing of cabinetry in the Hillside drafting room, also from 1933, contains instances of paired vertical boards reminiscent of those in the Theater Chandelier drawings:

Image

SDR
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Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

When the center-pole light fixtures or lamps appear, these same three-sided light boxes, with projecting fingers, are arranged around a square-section pole. The fingers engage a fixed wooden square fastened to the pole; the thin secondary verticals have disappeared. Support and alignment of the boxes is entirely dependent on these squares---which must be well-fastened to the pole.

Such a fixture is seen in photos of the dining area of the Taliesin residence. A 1992 color photo by Pedro Guerrero shows the fixture, which is attached to the rail of the datum above the table and depends to a surface at table height. Photos taken by Guerrero in 1952 do not show this fixture. One would like to know when and where the first such fixture appeared in a Wright building, as a fixed light source or as a movable lamp.

S

SDR
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Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Light variation

Post by SDR »

The pole fixture at the Taliesin dining table:


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Richard Bowditch photo

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