“It kind of all happened by accident – we were redoing our bathroom….”
Stunning, bespoke copper luminaires, which seem fresh out of a steampunk fantasy, are fast becoming the hallmark of artisan lamp makers Light‘Artedly.
Browsing through their Insta, it’s difficult to believe that their lifestyle supplement ready pieces began as a rookie DIY project.
In 2018, founders Emma and Jim were contemplating their interior refresh in their Lincolnshire home, when they were struck by inspiration from the past. Brought up in Dunbarton, Emma grew up steeped in the works of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, particularly with visits to Hill House, in nearby Helensburgh.
Hill House (which is now cared for by the National Trust for Scotland and currently stands in its own custom-made “box” to protect it from the elements) was created, by design, by Mackintosh for the family of publisher Walter Blackie. Mackintosh moved in with the family prior to drafting the house, to learn about them so he could tailor every element to their needs down to the details of the fixtures and fittings – including a copper shower. Emma had a distinct memory of the shower inside the house (which can be seen here) – a piece she considered to be elegant and simple – and so the couple embarked on recreating it in their home using Jim’s skills as an electrical and mechanical engineer as grounding for their creative ambition.
“This shower is absolutely to die for,” said Emma. “The last time I saw it was probably about three decades ago but its always been at the back of my mind. So we had a look at how we could do the shower.”
“I said no,” laughed Jim.
They attempted to recreate the piece, but at the time Jim’s limited fledgling skills in metal work meant he was defeated in attempting to replicate the art nouveau design. In the end they settled for a simple copper shower, which left behind a large amount of copper piping, which started off another idea.
Emma said: “Jim just disappeared off into his workshop and he came back with this random-angled copper pipe with some holes drilled in it and a light strip fed down the tube so it kind of lit though the holes.”
“I thought that’s alright, that’s a good idea and I thought – how about doing this – and I drew a picture and it became what became the Curly Lamp. So Jim took my picture and he practised and practised and practised. And after probably after a week or so and a load of copper he came out with the Curly Lamp and that was his very first lamp – I put that on the Handmade Network on Facebook. I just happened to post it and said: ‘Look at what my husband’s just made’. It went off the scale. It was up for 29 minutes or something and I started getting orders through.”
By the time this spike in interest had happened, Jim had turned in for a sleep before his nightshift and he found himself woken up by a dumfounded Emma who asked: “What shall I do”. Jim told her to take the orders, before falling back to sleep, and their business was born.
The early success led to a creative awakening between couple, with ideas flowing between them.
“I’m quite quirky in my thought processes,” said Emma. “So I’ll come out with some really random ideas but they often work, There’s been one or two that have been abject failures, but Jim’ll always give them a try and that’s the beauty of it, we never say no it’s not going to work, he’ll go away and he’ll think about it and he’ll design it and try and make it work. Even if he can’t make my idea 100 per cent work…sometimes he’ll come back and it’ll be even better than my idea.”
Jim started to scope out YouTube videos where people made simple designs, joining together copper pipe, but found it too simple and uninspiring, so started to branch out into different types of materials, before settling on copper sheet as the ideal material. Meanwhile Emma got to work on draughting out her own designs, which Jim then brought to life in metal.
“If it hadn’t been for YouTube we wouldn’t have been as far as we are now,” said Jim. “There’s so many things you can learn there. I watch a lot of the jewellery channels to see how they are doing things and a lot of that is involved in what we do as well because it’s quite intricate, especially the repoussé, the bending and the flame painting, which puts the colour into the copper.”
One of Emma’s favourites is an idea of hers that Jim brought to life – a spider’s web which now lives in their home.
“I started with the spider, said Jim. “I didn’t know how to make a dome really. So, I had to make it in three pieces. I basically was sitting in the kitchen with a big hammer, some rubber matting and a bit of heat, and I was banging the crap out of it trying to make it bend. And eventually I got to working out how to make the metal move the way I wanted it to. Once I’d learnt that little bit it was just a case of soldering it all together – then learning how to solder well – so when I do heat it up it doesn’t fall apart again, so it’s a big learning curve.
“The fly is what they call repoussé – we started with the bulb first – then we designed the wings then it was a case of again sitting again at the table in the kitchen and repoussé-ing the wings. Once we got that done it was a case of making the holder and making the fly. The web was the easiest bit out of it all to do as it was straight piping, that we bent the pipes the way we wanted to.”
They started working on commissions after Jim created an anatomically correct, life-size ribcage lamp, with a heart bulb within, which took him three months at the request of a friend.
All the luminaires, which feature LED bulbs, are rigorously tested prior to the couple personally delivering the lamp to the customer.
The couple are hoping to expand their range but, as each piece can take many hours to craft around their full-time jobs, they are making careful decisions around their work, prioritising commissions.
“It’s a fine balance and we’re just finding our feet at the moment,” said Emma.
Working hard to create legacy pieces means they are invested in involving customers in the design process, so they too can leave their own mark on the luminaires, ultimately helping to create unique pieces. The couple can work with the most simple of sketches to help produce stunning art pieces.
“We don’t just want to create lights, we want to create pieces of art,” said Emma.
“We want to make inheritance pieces,” added Jim.
Two of Jim’s favourite Youtube videos can be found here: