A few months ago my sister, Karen Tharp, and I decided to combine our crafty powers and make some seriously gorgeous lighting fixtures for a pizza restaurant in Naples, FL. You may remember our Tumblr page TharpTwinsForTheWin where we posted process photos of the entire collaboration. Because the restaurant was being built when we delivered our sculptures we weren’t able to show you how everything turned out. Today I’m very excited to share with you our finished Cloud Chandeliers and Expanded Steel Pendants! Thank you Karen for capturing these lovely photos!
If you haven’t already heard it, here’s the story of how this lighting installation came to be. A few months ago we were approached by a local pizza restaurant to create a unique lighting installation for their new location in Naples. After a few meetings and Google Sketch-up models we all agreed the clouds would look spectacular in the space. We were able to incorporate the same expanded steel look that you see on the bottom of the clouds into single pendants that would hang above the booths and bar as well. Once the designs were finished it was time to get to work! This restaurant was fast approaching its opening day and we needed our work installed before the pizza patrons arrived!
Karen and I were living 4 hours apart at the time so our collaborative work days were filled with morning coffee video chats and constant phone communication. It was my job to get the metal parts made in two waves, pendants then clouds, and get them to Karen as soon as the paint dried so she could begin adding paper. Because I was step 1 of 2 I was making decisions about the form and structure of the pieces, anticipating how Karen would attach the paper. Karen would then receive the pieces, having only seen them in photos, and immediately need to begin sculpting paper on them. Because Karen was step 2 in the process she was making finishing and aesthetic decisions about the final pieces. Until this project, Karen and I had never collaborated, but we’d had years and years of developing alongside each other as artists in our respective mediums, and this really helped us a lot as we were now required to blindly trust the others’ decisions. It was really cool to be working in my shop and know Karen was working in her studio on the pieces I had just been working on a few days prior. We wrestled our project schedule for 5 weeks, negotiating humidity levels with the gods and threatening all-nighters. Summers in Florida are not the time to have strict drying times on paint and resin. But finally we made it to the finish line and the sculptures were delivered!
The clouds are approximately 4 1/2 feet long, 2 1/2 feet wide, and 2 1/2 feet tall. The pendants are approximately 11 inches tall and 8 inches in diameter. The pieces are made from forged and fabricated mild steel and resin coated vintage book paper. The paper comes from books on Florida’s history and you can see images and text about Florida throughout the pieces. The pages are coated several times in a durable resin and the result is a strong, plastic-like material with tons of tensile strength. Each piece is lit from within and the paper glows the color of the light bulb, in this case a warm white. Let us know what you think!