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Vintage Power and Light: The Coolest Thing to Happen to Tungsten Since Edison!

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If you’ve been to an architectural lighting, entertainment lighting, or decorative lighting trade show lately, you should notice an interesting trend:  the lack of attention to incandescent light sources.  The light emitting diode has overtaken the world, and like myself, I miss the days of the warm tungsten filament in a room, bathing everything in its reach with a wider spectrum of color than its LED counterparts.  Tungsten filaments, at least decoratively, have become the fine wine of our lighting generation – only those with the intelligence and artistic knowledge in using tungsten and other incandescent sources have continued to do so.  The rest of the world is convinced, at the behest of excellent marketing and often regardless of price, that LED illumination is not only the way of the future but also today’s only way to appropriately design lighting.

It’s a fact that in many applications, including modern high bay methodologies and architectural applications, LED light sources are winning hearts and minds over their higher-energy-consuming incandescent cousins.  Sooner than later we’re going to see higher output automated fixtures giving their HID counterparts a run for their money, too.  ETC’s LED Source Four ellipsoidal, Chauvet’s Ovation LED ellipsoidal, Altman Lighting’s ME3 ellipsoidal, and Robert Juliat’s Tibo and Zep LED profiles have taken the market by storm – and have begun pushing back on the use of tungsten-halogen sources, arc sources, and even halogen sources!

On the whole, energy costs when dealing with a large facility or venue are where LED and non-incandescent sources make a monster difference in energy costs.  But what about where energy costs are negligible, like in your home?  If saving comparatively a few dollars here and there in your home is less important than the feeling and artistic appreciation that something like an incandescent lamp brings to you, can you put a price on your happiness?  I’ve owned many a compact fluorescent lamp-based fixture in my home, and frankly I replace every single CFL with its halogen or incandescent counterpart.  It’s my decision, and I do what makes my eyes and my brain happy.

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On that thought, I introduce to you the work of Vintage Power and Light out of Austin, Texas – creator Lowell Fowler (of High End Systems fame) has started a new hobby art venture based on utilizing the beauty and intrigue of vintage lighting and electrical equipment tied with the warm glow of incandescent sources.  Even better than just the sexiness of a glowing filament structure, Vintage Power and Light takes the beauty of an Edison filament wrap source and melds it to gorgeous finished old-world wood components, then adds stunning copper and brass connections and controls.  My favorite parts of Vintage Power and Light’s work are their use of Consolidated Design glass insulators – there is nothing quite like a multi-petticoat glass insulator on a fixture with an artistic incandescent filament turning that glass into a mystical piece of glowing jewelry.  GAH!  This stuff is amazing!!!

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Lowell and York Fowler have put an interesting new spin on the idea of Steampunk-esque design by bringing old-world components and combining them with early 20th century incandescence.  The result is a stunning and refreshing take on using incandescence as not only an artistic statement, but a comfortable, familiar, and heartwarming addition to your house, office, or anywhere else that LEDs just don’t cut it.

Check out a series of gallery images below, click on any image for a light box of that gallery for your perusal!
Just make sure that you give credit where credit is due, and all of these photos are courtesy of Vintage Power and Light with photography by Tim Grivas.

First things first, Vintage Power and Light’s Table Lamps:

Vintage Power and Light’s Chandelier and Pendant series:

Got a Steampunk jones?  Vintage Power and Light does that too!

Last but not least, a gorgeous offering of sconces for your collection:

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JimOnLight says HELL YES to Vintage Power and LightAwesome offerings, guys!  We hope that the whole world sees your work and loves it as much as we do!

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High Speed Photography of Light Bulbs As They Explode, Filled with AWESOMESAUCE by Jon Smith

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I am really digging Jon Smith’s photography.  Apparently he also does some Light Art.  Jon is Wide Eyed Illuminations on Flickr — and since I’m apparently in an all-about-light-bulbs mood today, watch this and then check out what’s beneath it:

THAT, good people of the world, is some amazing shit!  Jon fills up the glass envelope of incandescent light bulbs, and then shoots that sucker with a pellet gun.  Which, as you see below, makes awesomesauce.

These are my personal favorite pics from Jon’s full set on Flickr of the light bulbs.  I’m sure you’ll find your favorites too, but check out the whole set here.

Color Splash

Kitchen Sink

Orange Cap

Feathers in Blue

Oil and Water 1

Blue Puff

Color wheel

DEXTER LAMP!

Splitting Headache

ROYGBIV

Feathers Flying

Three's company

Color Splash 2

Heart of Gold

Gold Rush

Gel Balls

NonNewtonian 2

Mason Jar Collision

Flood Light

Pink/Blue Paint

Red White and Blue

Baotou Halts Making Rare-Earths to Spike Prices. WTF!

To quote the dance performance students in my 8am Stage Lighting class, this is “jank.”  (I’m pretty sure that means that it’s f%$#ed up.)

Well, that it is.  This whole thing is certainly jank.  The “this” that I’m referring to is the fact that a Chinese government-linked company named Baotou Steel has been halting production of its rare earth elements since October 20 in order to “balance the market and stabilize supply and demand.”  I think that’s Mandarin for drive up the prices of rare earth elements, because Baotou supplies more rare earth elements than any other company in the world.  China as a whole produces 95% of the world’s rare earth element supply, so really other than a price driving measure, this is pointless.

From a Reuters article on the shutdown and the China state reaction, which seems to be actually driving this MCF:

China has resolved to streamline the chaotic rare earth sector by encouraging consolidation and cracking down on illegal private production, cited as the key reason for the decline in prices over the past few months.  It has imposed a national output cap of 93,800 tonnes for 2011, and has vowed to crack down on producers that exceed their quotas.

It launched a four-month inspection campaign at the beginning of August to ensure that production quotas, pollution standards and consolidation targets were being met.

The industry ministry said in a statement posted on its website last Friday that it planned to “strengthen monitoring and inspections” in the coming months, saying that it would pay particular attention to punishing traders and processors that receive illegally-mined rare earth products.

The region of Inner Mongolia in China’s northeast, the source of most of the country’s light rare earths, has forced a number of small firms to merge with Baotou Rare-Earth , and has also been cutting off electricity supplies to private producers to force them to shut down, local media reported.

With incentives high for private producers, China has traditionally struggled to impose its will on the sector. Total output exceeded the production quota by around 40,000 tonnes last year, and traders also resorted to smuggling in order to get round a strict export cap.

What does this mean, really, and why am I reporting on this on JimOnLight.com?  Well, have you ever purchased an MSR arc lamp or bought anything lighting that has neodymium in it?  Philips’ Reveal lamps are made with neodymium inside the envelope, for example, to get that great high color temperature and whiter light.  Also to be fair, there are tons of other manufacturers who make neodymium light bulbs, and they’re great for people suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Yeah.  So the prices for those things and thousands of other things both in our industry and outside of it that use rare earth minerals (oxides, typically) are going to go up.  Great.  Fans of rare-earth magnets as well will be well frustrated by this little market making exercise.

I had to know what kind of rare earths this company produces – I found a JPEG list of their product line on their pretty pitifully designed website (they aren’t web developers, obviously, they’re rare earth miners and steel makers), here’s the Rare Earths section:

Yep, Neodymium Oxide is on there, and it’s a primary ingredient in doping glass for lighting.  It’s technically Neodymium (III) Oxide (for all you Chemical Abstract Society readers out there), and it’s used all over the place.  Get ready for the price to go up.  Neodymium is used to make lasers (it’s a pretty great gain medium around the IR wavelengths (1054-1064)), as well as tons of other stuff that’s now going to get more expensive.

That image shows some of the National Ignition Facility laser filters – all doped with Neodymium.  I’m interested but not excited to see what this does to prices across the lighting and photonics industries.

Neodymium is pretty interesting when in glass doping for lamps – from an article at Wikipedia on Neodymium (a cool read, please do):

A neodymium glass light bulb, with the base and inner coating removed, under two different types of light: incandescent on the right, and fluorescent on the left. This demonstrates the difference in color of neodymium glass under different lighting conditions. These two photos were taken with identical white balance and coloration and no post-processing, except for cropping. (ISO, shutter speed and aperture were changed between the shots, but this changes only exposure and has basically no effect on the color of the pictures.) The only difference is the type of illumination: fluorescent or incandescent.

Ah, capitalism.

Thanks to LightNOW (which is an awesome blog, btw), IndustryWeek, Wikipedia, and the NIF

320,000 Kilowatt Hours Wasted Per Minute

Chris Jordan, an artist from Seattle who produces a lot of commentary work on consumerism, has produced a series of work called Running the Numbers.  In this work is a painting called Light Bulbs, which makes commentary on the 320,000 kilowatt-hours wasted by the United States every minute through things most of us probably don’t think of often – computers in stand-by, poorly engineered wiring, leaving the lights on, etc.

The work is huge, as in size – 72″ X 96″ (six feet by nine feet), and includes 320,000 images of a light bulb to represent each wasted kWh.

Actual detail size:

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A little zoomed out:

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Zoomed out:

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The works in Running the Numbers are all along this theme of over-consumption.  Check out some of his current works here, and check out his portfolio here.  Running The Numbers is showing at the Kopeikin Gallery in Hollywood until October 17, 2009.