TwyLights in the daylight

While pursuing my day-job with EarthSea Interpretations, I was introduced by a friend to the owners of a wooden-basket factory. They had a waste problem. The baskets start as a continuous lathed sheet of veneer from short lengths of poplar logs-one of our most renewable resources. The first 20 or so feet of sheet is of variable thickness, live edges, voids, knotholes, wormholes, burl grain, etc. Basket-makers want really straight grain, hole-free, uniform thickness and colorless material for the basket parts, so that first few feet becomes waste to be buried or burned. In my initial R&D prototyping to find added value products that could be derived from this waste, I was struck by the remarkable translucent qualities of the material and decided to put that to use. A box of long-saved empty tins and a nudge from my partner led to the first Twylight. With every sheet of material differing in grain, “imperfections” and colour variations, each Twylight is totally unique in character. As the poplar logs are cut to varying lengths before turning, the height of the material varies from roughly 2 to 5 feet, so that became the normal range of heights for Twylights.

EarthSea’s extension of green ethic to product design and sourcing was straightforward. The bulb of each Twylight is  a low-watt compact, so Twylights are super efficient, long-lasting and without any danger of heat buildup. Caution: replace bulbs only with similar (13-23 watts). Interior forms  are recycled coffee, juice or food tins or cast concrete, all with ceramic receptacles. The interior bottoms are weighted  to create a stable, low center of gravity. The wood is natural—no toxic finishes— and may move a bit with changes in humidity and temperature. Twylights are alive to their surroundings! Do not expose to extremes of temperature or humidity. Recycled garment leathers finish the bottoms. A stylized “DC” butterfly monogram guarantees authenticity.

Designing of Twylights ranges from total random serendipity to artful manipulation executed to manifest and extend the “stories” found in the material. Mostly I am working with the surprises that come from the way light travels through the wood, illuminating its “stories”. Believe me, this is huge fun! I’ve been engaged in art-making off and on for half a century. It doesn’t get much better than this!

Twylights look fragile, but with the normal care given to any lamp, should last for generations. Note that they are most subject to splitting damage around the top, so handle at the weighted bottom. The wood is meant to be separated from the interior if a bulb requires changing. Place lamp on its side on a cushion of cloth on a table and gently tug the cord or metal rim. You may need to use a table-knife to pry gently around the edge of the tin and against the bottom edge of the wood to get it started. Once started, rock and pull bottom with one hand while gently holding wooden shell above container with other hand. I have decided to make the fit looser to aid bulb replacement, so please pick up lamp by bottom with two hands to move or carry.

As darkness falls and cares of the day recede, let your Twylight take you on a magic journey that tells of trees standing in sunlit groves inhabited by birds, four-leggeds, creepy-crawlies, flitting insects and the spirits of the land. Stand like a tree, see the clouds and feel wind, mist and rain, warmth of sun, tug of moon, stars wheeling overhead. Feel the roots of your being sinking into the sustaining earth and “holding hands” with the rest of the grove.