BR: You're in your thirties and just started making Salvation Lamps, what started it all?
JD: It started about a year and a half ago, from doing some internet searches looking for Steampunk-related art and I saw that an artist had made a Steampunk-inspired lamp. I thought I could make one better, and try to do it myself.
BR: Do you notice a difference in customer base between people who buy functional art as opposed to purely aesthetic art? And do they purchase more often?
JD: I don't know if people tend to buy more functional art, but I know I like functional art better. I like art that has a usefulness. I like that you could have a lamp or clock that has dual purpose, that you could take it from place to place and interact with it regularly. It seems like more of a possession that's close to you.
BR: How many have you made so far?
JD: Probably in the range of thirty to thirty-five. I think most were intended to fill gifts for friends or family at Christmas time.
BR: Do you wish friends and family were less of your customer base?
JD: It wasn't a business when I was making lamps as gifts. I had made the first lamp, knew that I could do it, and that I could use those lamps to fill in for something I had to buy anyway. When I started getting feedback, I knew that I was stumbling onto Salvation Lamps.
BR: How has the community helped you?
JD: By providing a bunch of resources that, if I didn't have, I wouldn't be able to make these. Especially the Salvation Army, Am-Vets and friends or family that know this is what I'm doing. Everybody seems to have an old lamp in their attic with a busted shade that they can't use anymore, but didn't want to throw out. I have a good eye for a lamp on a curb on trash day.
BR: So you look forward to the annual garage sale weekend every year?
JD: That's kind of how this came together. I loved garage sales and antiques and the whole idea of salvage combined with the desire to find purpose for discarded items that seemingly no longer had any purpose. The interest in making the Steampunk lamp is what actually led me to where I am now.
BR: Can I bring you any sort of part and you'll make me a lamp?
JD: If you had an object that you wanted to turn into a functional piece of art, or incorporate into your surroundings, sure. It can start as interest or an object. One of the goal lamps I made was fabricated from hockey pucks. Someone that I work with, her husband had used those pucks and they were from his collection. Other ideas and projects I've been commissioned for, were to find an object and build a lamp around the aesthetic of a space.
BR: Do you find the never-ending range of mediums challenging?
JD: That's what makes it fun. I like the fact that I'm not pigeonholed. I don't want to make lamps that are just antique or sports related, glass or metal. I always look forward to the next challenge where I'll use something that I've never used before.
BR: Would it be fair to say that a stranger with an object that wants to commission a lamp from you should also bring in a snapshot of the space?
JD: Absolutely. Then that's really two challenges, sounds fun.
BR: If you were to open a storefront in Buffalo, where would it be?
JD: If I was to open a storefront and choose an area to do that in, I would like it to be a place where anybody could come to. I wouldn't want to be in a place known particularly for antiques or high-end merchandise. I want the whole range of customers, from a man who likes hockey to someone looking for a really particular vintage piece, or some kids with the newest style in mind.
BR: You grew up in Niagara Falls then migrated south, to Buffalo. Do you find the Western New York area to be inspirational?
JD: Definitely. I was just at the Burchfield Penney and I was reminded of the Roycroft, Arts & Crafts movement and Frank Lloyd Wright scene. People around the country know that architecture, crafts and furniture have deep roots in the Western New York area. Every time I delve into the history of arts here, I learn something I didn't know before.
BR: You were surrounded by other well known creatives growing up - like Rob Lynch - was there a general spirit of creativity surrounding you all as children?
JD: Yes. Personally, I can think of other art projects that were like this that I did when I was younger. I re-made guitars because I loved music. I would take an old guitar and nail bottle caps to it and paint it. I've always dabbled.
BR: So do you play?
JD: I do, I play bass.
JD: The bedroom, the basement, the garage! I'm not in a band anymore. Also, I was the manager of the Niagara Falls Media Play and I define myself as one of the people you would want to have on your team in a music trivia contest.
BR: What venue would you take me to see a show and what band would we see?
JD: I think I would take you to Mohawk Place, maybe Soundlab, to see Lindsey & Jack Topht. They always entertain me when I get a chance to see them play.
Visit SalvationLamps.com for more images, or call 716.622.1984
Laura Duquette is a former ballerina who now dances with words and punctuation. She has a knack for asking questions faster than the speed of sound, and her interviews are often off the cuff and personal. She is Co-Owner of 12 Grain Studio, a Buffalo based creative firm that gives typical web design a kick in the ass.