Some weeks back, a gentleman contacted me through this website with an unusual request. He had a couple of computer hard drives, circa 1980s, that he wanted made into a lamp.
He had no ideas for the design, and very little in the way of requirements, so I pretty much had free rein—something I tend to struggle with. But I was coming up on one of those birthdays that cause one to stop and tally things up, and admit to one’s shortfalls. So I needed the distraction of a challenge.
Of course, it turned out a bit more than I’d bargained for.
Ordinarily, the object that is the jumping off point for a project largely dictates the rest of the form. But the drives, when disassembled, offered a plethora of choices with no clear direction—cases and circuit boards, mirror-finish metal platters, spindles and read/write heads, along with other assorted bits and pieces—none of which seemed to speak to one another, at least in lamp terms.
After toying for over a week with the notion of a box with a light inside and sides made (somehow) of platters and boards (but never really falling in love with the idea), one evening I fell asleep imagining a tower of platters, floating around a glowing tube. And the next morning I awoke with an idea of how it might be done.
Measurements and much online window shopping followed, until I came up with what seemed like a viable plan. Although I wasn’t sure it would work, I decided to take the chance that I could figure something out if my original scheme failed.
It almost did, too.
The fit of the parts was much more restrictive than I typically deal with, and the materials were ones I had no experience with. Also, most of the time connections in lamps can be undone and redone as needed. But for this, I had only once chance to get it right—and once I started I had to continue. So it was nerve-wracking enough already. Then when the day came to construct the “shade,” the temperature was in the 90s. So there I was, in my kitchen, improvising on the fly when method A didn’t work, swinging a hammer, bleeding from an injury I still don’t know how I got, swearing and sweating like a sailor. Talk about black moods.
In the end though, it came out all right. I got to make something completely different. My customer thinks it’s “awesome.” And the way it plays with light is a magic trick I hadn’t anticipated at all.
Seagate Tower hard drive lamp
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