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Maker Moment: An interview with lighting designer Chris Osborne

Posted by Melissa Massello  April 16, 2013 12:00 PM

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maker-moment-chris-osborne-steampunk-lighting.jpg Chris Osborne of City Lights acquires and refurbishes beautiful antique and Art Deco lighting. Though he also spends some time channeling Dr. Frankenstein, using vintage fixtures from the early 20th century as a starting point for his fascinating steampunk creations. Chris's Diabolical Boxes and other pieces that would be perfectly at home in a Jules Verne story will be on display at this weekend's CraftBoston show.

What has been one of your most personally significant projects?
I made a custom light as a memorial to a friend who died. She had a career making hand crafted cast silicone jewelry. Her husband gave me access to many unsold pieces of her jewelry. I removed all the crystals from a vintage chandelier and installed her jewelry in place of them. This light still hangs over our dining room table today.

Favorite tools/materials?
I like working with things I find at the flea market. Often what I make is inspired first by the object if find. I once bought a fantastic vintage Art Deco electronic signal generator at a flea market. It had all these dials and knobs. I used as many of them as I could to control the lights. Attached to this email is a picture of it.

Has a project outcome ever surprised you?
I was making some Diabolical Boxes with kinetics. At the time, I had been experimenting with super strong Neodymium magnets. I tried several methods of hanging and pushing things around using the magnets. Finally, I settled on putting six magnets under a brass plate and suspending a light ball close above them with one opposing pole magnet inside it. The result is that when you swing or push the light ball it bounces off the opposing magnetic fields in an almost life-like fashion. When I am displaying at a show I find that people always respond to the light when I demonstrate it. I call this Diabolical Box Jitterbug.

What's your top tip for first-timers?
Master your medium, experiment, have fun.

What won't you ever DIY/when do you call in the experts?
When I am making some large industrial style floor lamps I often use a machine shop for some of the larger drilling, taping, and to make custom fit bushings. I don’t have the heavy equipment or experience with metal lathes.

"When I'm not making stuff, I'm..."
…at the Flea Market or writing true stories about the antiques business for my blog, Tall Tales from the Antiques Trail.

Thanks, Chris!

Visit Chris at the CraftBoston Spring show, Friday, April 19 through Sunday, April 21 at the Seaport World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd, Boston.

~Tara

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the Authors

Melissa Massello is a newspaper journalist turned startup junkie and lifelong Bostonian who prides herself on her do-it-yourself attitude. From making her prom dress out More »
Tara Bellucci is a Boston-based writer that lives for fonts, food, and flea market finds. Whether decorating jars of her homemade jam for The Boston More »

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