Custom Japanese style pillar lights for driveway entrance
A recent project required the design of a pair of custom Japanese style Pillar lights for the entrance to a rural estate. Commercially available pillar lights were too small as the sandstone pillars were over two metres high and 800mm square. To simplify constructing a complete electrical fitting (which includes electrical safety standards compliance and rating) a commercial fitting was selected which was of a suitable style and construction that could be adapted to a larger fitting.
The new Japanese style pillar lights are essentially a lampshade that fits around the commercial fitting. The base section is fastened to the sandstone top of the pillar around the commercial fitting. The lightweight metal roof section is attached to the top of the metal frame of the commercial fitting which has had its glass shade removed.
Below details the steps in building the fitting.
Steel frame of the pillar light. This will be fixed to the pillar top
Translucent acrylic windows fitted to the metal base frame
Marking out shape of the galvanised iron roof
Folding the roof cutout section with sheet metal bender
Completed top roof sections ready for painting
View of the base set around the commercial light fitting
Custom pillar lights and stainless steel entrance gates with Art Deco palm leaf motif
These front entrance gates incorporate a stylised palm leaf design that DecoWorks produced for the entrance driveway to a rural estate which was lined with mature palm trees. The design also reflected the diminishing perspective of the palm trees as seen looking down the driveway.
Due to the size of the sandstone pillars custom light fittings also had to be designed to compliment the gate installation. Commercially available fittings were too small for the pillars which are 800mm square.
The front entrance gates were constructed using stainless steel to ensure a long and corrosion free life. Adjustable stainless steel hinges were used to compensate for any construction and installation irregularities and also allow for future adjustment if necessary.
The custom pillar lights were constructed around a commercially available pillar light to simplify the requirements of making an electrical fitting. The custom fitting is essentially a *lampshade* fitted over the top of the commercial fitting. Details of their construction can be found here.
Silhouette of front entrance gates with palm leaf motif
The Qantas 747 Jumbo Float of Gayviation from the 1997 Mardi Gras parade
There were many creative entries in the recent 2016 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in Sydney. One that caught my eye was the Qantas #gay380 float which brought back memories from almost 20 years ago when the original idea of a Qantas 747 Jumbo float was first realized by the Qantas social group, Gayviation.
Gayviation’s 1997 entry (one of 200 that year!) was the forerunner of the later large marching entries in the parade with almost two hundred people doing an airline safety demonstration dance routine to the music of Paul Capsis singing “I still call Australia home”. The entry won “Best of Parade” at the 1997 Mardi Gras Awards Night.
This was a time before the ubiquity of digital cameras and social media so the only record of the time was predominately on film and VHS video. I went through my old negatives and scanned the photos taken in preparation for the 1997 parade and share them here with a brief narrative on the lead up to the parade. Click on any photo for the full size version.
The front truck of the Qantas 747 Jumbo was christened COCKATOO DREAMIMG.
Gayviation’s concept was very simple. Tony Baker, their president, told me they wanted a Qantas 747 Jumbo float consisting of a front truck, being the nose and cockpit of the aircraft, and a rear truck being the tail. It was to go up Oxford Street with a large marching troupe between the two floats, representing the passengers, doing an airline safety demonstration dance routine to a dance track produced by Tiger Recording with Paul Capsis singing “I still call Australia home”. There were to be generators on both trucks to power lighting for the marchers and a complex sound system.
Because of the length of the entry the marchers at the rear couldn’t hear the music from the front truck so a radio link was planned to feed the music from the front truck to the rear truck so those at the back could hear and stay in time with the music of the routine.
I set about designing a metal framework with the shape of a 747 fuselage that completely enclosed a tabletop truck. I was Head of Props at Opera Australia at the time and was allowed to use the workshop facilities in Surry Hills to build the float. It was built in five sections that bolted together to form the shape of the fuselage. All the metal frameworks and wooden fuselage side panels were built at the Opera workshop and fitted to the truck. Once this was completed everything was transferred to the Mardi Gras workshop in Erskineville.
Main cabin frame covered and painted in the Mardi Gras workshop
Top cabin section hanging from the Mardi Gras workshop roof
At the Mardi Gras workshop the steel frames were covered with chicken wire and then glued over with newspaper. Once it had dried it was painted white and had the signage applied. The tail section was built at the Mardi Gras workshop and consisted of a large inverted “V” shape made of plywood which would conceal the generator and sound system. The logo on the tail of the flying kangaroo in a stiletto heel was the brainchild of one of the flight attendants at the time. The rest of the tail truck was masked with black fabric to highlight the tail fin.
In the morning of parade day the front and rear trucks were assembled for the first time in the petrol station outside the Mardi Gras workshop and then driven to Jands lighting in Alexandria to have the lighting and sound systems installed. The installation of all the lights took a particularly long time which became quite stressful as the afternoon wore on.
Fitting lighting and sound systems to the front and rear trucks at Jands warehouse
My anxiety levels were beginning to show as time was running out to get to the parade start
The removable front nose cone was covered in an open mesh material so that the driver of the truck could see out when it was fitted to the front of the fuselage frame. The side passenger windows were also aligned so that those next to the truck cabin could be used to see out to the side.
COCKATOO DREAMING being driven out of its “hanger” for the first time was an exciting moment for all.
Eventually all the lighting rigs and sound systems were finally connected up and tested. Qantas 747 Jumbo “Cockatoo Dreaming” was ready to see the light of day.
It was an exciting and memorable moment for everyone to see it being driven out of the warehouse at Jands Lighting for the first time.
The picture below is the only time that the front and rear trucks were set front to back to show how the complete Qantas 747 Jumbo float looked before being driven to the parade marshaling area in the city.
The front and rear trucks of “Cockatoo Dreaming” ready to go to the parade.
The two trucks on the way to the parade
Qantas 747 Jumbo Float passing through Redfern.
As is generally the case, the best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry. After the Sun had set we discovered it was difficult for the driver to see through the nose cone section so a segment of material had to be cut out to give a clear view. The radio link with the rear truck also failed on the night so the marchers at the rear had to rely on visual cues to keep in time with the front marchers during the safety demonstration routine.
Tony Baker and myself wishing “Cockatoo Dreaming” good luck just before the parade start.
Qantas 747 Jumbo featured on the Mardi Gras 1997 Parade Video promotional poster
The parade was a blur of colour and sound and a terrific time was had by all. All the effort was worth the once in a lifetime experience of taking a Qantas 747 Jumbo up Oxford Street. The video below shows the parade entry on the night. Great memory 🙂
Buggery’s Creek International Airport railway station – 1998 Mardi Gras parade
The following year Gayviation did another parade entry. The Qantas 747 Jumbo float from the previous year was ressurected with new livery and I built another float consisting of an illuminated rainbow coloured control tower which led the entry up Oxford Street.
The float represented Buggery’s Creek International airport railway station and along with the illuminated model of the Sydney airport control tower featured a classic Sydney Rail railway platform built over the truck cabin. The power generator was concealed by several bushes behind the cabin. Two large power line towers, typical of Western Sydney, completed the picture and supported the lighting.
At the time there was hot debate about a new airport at Badgery’s Creek with a new rail link which is *still* going on as I write this post. I hope they end up putting in a fast rail link as it is “out to buggery” – an Australian colloquialism for a very long way away. Another one, “go to buggery”, is an impolite way to tell someone to “get lost” or “go away”.
Below is a video of the Control Tower and 747 Jumbo in the 1998 Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras parade.
A client who had previously commissioned a DecoWorks polished stainless steel armillary sphere recently moved to a new, larger house. They wanted to remove the armillary sphere from the garden wall of the old house and have it re-installed in the garden of their new home. We were approached to design a new support for the armillary sphere so it could be placed in the garden of the new house.
In keeping with the materials used for the armillary sphere the support was constructed from stainless steel to ensure a long life in its seaside environment. Stained Merbau timber strips were cut and attached to the support framework to form the outer *skin* of the support.
Top of new support
Detail of timber clad armillary support
After the new support had been concreted into position in the garden the armillary sphere simply bolted onto the top. It makes a great focal point in the garden and adds a unique visual addition to an already beautiful outlook.
Artistic security grille painted and ready for installation
Started work making artistic security bars for a front window today. The client did not want anything resembling security bars to avoid that *caged in* feeling. It was particularly important for the this window as it is quite large at 2.2m x 1.5m and looks out from the lounge room onto the street. The final design evolved into a sinuos group of ivy vines with no straight lines.
Long term corrosion was of concern for the client so these artistic security bars are made from stainless steel. They will outlive the house.
Stainless steel is an excellent material to use for custom security doors and bars which, because they are one-offs, are more expensive to build. By spending a bit more for stainless steel materials the client is guaranteed a product that will stand the test of time and be a sound long term investment for their property.
Welding the stainless steel parts together proved to be a difficult job. The design is all curves which had to be joined together seamlessly. Each weld was executed and smoothed one at a time because most of the welds would be inaccessible in the completed grille. To reduce warping the grille was welded in sections with the outer frame being the last part attached. The welding process took three days.
Starting work cutting and bending curves for the artistic security grille
All the stainless steel parts setup ready for welding
Welding the artistic security grille in sections to reduce warping
Completed artistic security grille with primer coat.
Here are some photos of a recent Princess arch theme security bars installation. These arch themed security bars were inspired by the arched windows and door on the front facade of the Sydney terrace house pictured below. Other windows in the house also have arched sections which have been mirrored in their respective security bars.
Double bedroom doors closed
View of the double arch balcony doors
View of the double arched dining room window bars
Front view of terrace with bars fitted
The Princess arch theme in these DecoWorks designs is uncommon due to the extra work involved in making several concentric curves of various diameters. Usually there is a single arch within a rectangular door frame. In our designs the arch theme is emphasised by using an arched door frame instead of a rectangular one.
There are several steps required to make the curved cabinet doors required for the custom design shown on the right. What complicates this design is that the curved doors are also tapered. This makes the join line between the sides of the cabinet and the curved doors non-linear. The join line is further complicated because it needs to taper in to hide the end grain of the sides and the doors.
The first step is to make a curved panel that can be cut to the required shape. The only way to make this is to make a form that has the same radius as the door, and laminate several sheets of 3 ply together inside the form.
The glued sandwich of plywood is placed into the form and clamped in place with heavy weights until the laminate dries. When the panel is removed it is the same shape as the form.
The following photos illustrate the steps involved in making the curved cabinet doors panel.
Completed bottom form section with the required radius ready for cladding
Completed framework for upper form section ready for cladding
Form frames covered in plywood
Completed laminating form.
Applying glue to both faces of the plywood sheets with a roller prior to placing them in the form
Five glued plywood sheets clamped into the form and weighed down with 700kg of pavers
The completed laminated curved panel for the front of the side cabinet after removal from the form
Routing the radius for the curved panel support frame. This will make the curved panel easier to handle.
The completed panel support frame ready for cladding in ply
curved panel clamped to the support frame ready for cutting
The next step is to cut the two doors and drawer fronts from the tapered curved panel. This requires a special jig to be built so the elliptical curve between the sides and the door can be accurately cut. These in turn will need to be held in position for the mating of the side panels and central hinge support. The next blog post will illustrate the steps involved in this process to make the curved cabinet doors.