a lesson in lighting

IMG_3556-2018-12-7-17-08.jpgOne of the joys of home ownership is an ever-present task list. When we finished building our home ten years ago, I made a list of 50-odd things that required completion, most of which still await my attention. Some items have been added and resolved, like the failed foundation sump pump I spent two days replacing last month, or the tree that came down in September. However this is the happy story of knocking an old item off my list.

During construction, we purchased two large pieces of silk-and-wood-stamped artwork from our dear talented friend, Tomoko Murakami. Tomoko taught me how to make silk art more than 15 years ago, and you can see the pieces on her website, Yusaifu #7, Blue and Red. These 70”x80” translucent panels were perfect for the large walls of the house, so we designed light boxes into our central stairwell landings, sized exactly for them.

…Except that we were so out of money, we couldn’t finish the lighting and mounting. So I carefully hung them in front of the boxes, where they looked interesting — but not exactly stunning — without back light. I don’t think a single guest has commented on them over the years, which perhaps tells you just how important proper lighting is for visual artwork.

Meanwhile, lighting technology has progressed in good ways. Back then, it would have required maybe six hundred watts of Lutron-dimmable fluorescent lights, and the $3000 was just not in our budget. Now we can buy strips of warm efficient LED lights with electronic dimmable power supplies…and 300 watts of lighting at a cost of $700 is sufficient for the whole project.

So I did it. The house is transformed, the dimly-lit stairs are now bathed in gorgeous color, and the core of the house has a luminescence that carries throughout, into all the rooms and out onto the street at night. Tomoko, I bow to your creativity, and Nancy, I bow to your vision. I feel replete.

Although it’s not yet done. Now I must fabricate the frames that will finish off the pieces. One more item back on the list.

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Before…

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…and after!

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24 volt transformer and LED strips behind the art panels

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the view from the street