Hello again, my name is Jeffrey Garman and this is my second year on the Eugene mini Maker Faire Steering Committee. I am excited to present here the second in a series of “Meet the Makers” interviews with Erol of A-Lamp Design as a lead up to the Faire on June 11th.
Jeffrey: Hello Erol. While preparing for our interview I was struck by how closely your last name resembles “chandelier” and how fitting that is for your work as a designer/artisan lamp builder. I find your lamps provide a stage upon which the filament of the classically fabricated incandescent light bulb illuminates its subjects. Just the thought of the word “filament” (one of my favorite words mind you) – has suddenly reminded me of a passage from Walt Whitmans’s “Leaves of Grass.”
“I am drawn by its breath as if I were no more than a helpless vapor… Mad filament, ungovernable shoots play out of it, the response likewise ungovernable…”
Jeffrey: Needless to say I think your work is very inspiring in its simplicity and form. An A-Lamp would be a thoughtful addition to the desk of anyone who cares about the feng-shui of their work spaces. Look at me — I am taking up all of our interview time! Let’s get this party started. How did you begin with your craft?
Erol: I started out just tinkering around in a friend’s garage. I’m the type of person who always likes to be doing/learning something new. I didn’t mean for it to become my full-time job, but it took on a life of its own and now I have a little shop in downtown Springfield and I get to enjoy it every day.
Jeffrey: You’re very lucky. I don’t see many bulbs like these anymore. I mean, I guess I see them in bars and restaurants on occasion but they are not readily available at your common hardware store. I am very curious where you get them.
Erol: The bulbs are blown glass and skillfully hand-wound tungsten filaments made in Texas.
Jeffrey: Perhaps you are aware that many governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs because of their inefficiency in comparison to LEDs and CFLs. In Germany some importers have gotten around this by selling them as heating bulbs. What are your thoughts about this? Does it affect your ability to sell internationally?
Erol: My lamps are more for aesthetic appeal. People buy our lamps because they are a perfect accent lighting or decorative touch that really brings a room together. The Edison-style LED lights have absolutely improved in appearance lately, but they still don’t create the same effect as the incandescent bulbs. Those little details are what it’s all about and incandescent bulbs serve our purpose perfectly. Every handcrafted lamp has its own story and by selling them in person and meeting the customers, we get to see that story through until the end. We are there until the very last chapter and there’s something really fun about that. That being said, we have decided to only sell our lamps in person at shows. So if we do an international show I don’t think we will run into any import problems. While having our lamps available online is a quick and easy way to make a sale, that’s not really what we’re about. We’re a small company, and we’d like to keep it that way. It doesn’t make sense for us to have mass production online sales.
Jeffrey: Speaking of sustainability and efficiency, tell me about the Shower Commander.
Erol: The Shower Commander is something I invented about 8 months ago and has been my ongoing side project. It’s the world’s first foot-operated shower switch that controls the flow of water during your shower. It is an easy way to save both water and money and because it sits on the floor of your tub instead of behind the shower head. It’s the first water conservation device that children can access during the shower, making it a great teaching tool early on.
Jeffrey: That really is a great idea! I look forward to seeing you at the Faire.
Get your advance tickets to see Erol Chandler and more than 30 maker exhibits at the Eugene Mini Maker Faire on June 11! Tickets are $1 off until June 1.