FISH AND SNAKE LAMPS
Photo courtesy FOGA
In 1983, the Formica Company initiated a competition for designers to illustrate the properties of the new material Colorcore. The material was examined over and over again to uncover its special properties, one of which was that some colors of the material were very translucent while other colors were relatively opaque. This led to the idea of trying to make a lamp which would respond to and work with the material's translucency. After considering several awkward attempts, frustration built and one of the lamps was broken into pieces. On examining the wreckage of the lamp, another property of the material was discovered. When the material broke, it didn't break along clear edges, but instead left a fissured, sheared, rough edge akin to ancient arrowheads or to shark's teeth. Further examination led to the thought that the pieces also resembled fish scales. Books of fish were studied and finally a carp was deemed most worthy of emulation.
In constructing the lamps, a wire armature is stretched over a full-size carved wooden shape. The wire is then cut, the wood removed and the armature resoldered. Sheets of yellow Colorcore (that color being, initially, the most translucent) are shattered and the fragments sheared to size and shape and glued to the armature. A wave-like base of larger shards allows for access to a light bulb. The piece was somewhat rough but it worked and was so loved by everyone that requests came in from all over to produce more lamps. Three other editions of fish lamps were made by New City Editions during the next three years. Approximately three dozen were made in total. Several snake designs were also included.