Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Information for making replacement glass fiber optic sprays.

So I decided to post this thread because many of you had requested information regarding the manufacturing process of these sprays. I have included photos from when I was making them and the steps I had taken in making them. There is a short video I am hoping to upload. It does not show you me trimming the spray but of the spray in its stand and its beginning process. I also had been in contact with George Stadnik one of fantasias lamp designers. I will repost all helpful communications between me and him. These fiber optic sprays are in no way easy to make and will need to be made by hand and not in a factory, the cost of materials, especially the glass fiber optics is a bit pricy, if you plan on selling them you will need some kind of warning shipped with the spray and or liability insurance. Fantasia began getting lawsuits from people getting splinters from the glass fiber optics which proved to be a problem. That is how many of the “Safer” lamp designs came about, the Cosmos and a few other enclosed lamps. The problem with these and why they ended up being rare is they were expensive to produce and carried a hefty price tag. The work and the process that goes into getting a spray fully assembled from start to finish with a “haircut” takes a bit of time. I know you all know these sprays are not available anywhere unless you purchase another lamp somewhere and snag the lamp just for a replacement spray. There is a market for these and if someone can get the art of this perfected and has some time to assemble and produce them we may be able to properly resurrect Fantasia lamps and breathe new life into many old lamps.

Fantasia had a few different styles of sprays consisting of different shapes, lengths and widths etc. Smaller lamps got thinner fiber optics while the larger lamps like the Sunburst 4000 and the Cosmos lamp had thicker fiber optics with long draping canopies.

The process is lengthily and the art of shaping these is.....well....an art! There is no easy way of trimming them and that is where my road block was from getting them rolled out for sale. That and the obnoxious "Slean coating" that was applied to the fibers during the manufacturing process. Apparently they coat the fibers in this coating to prevent them from "Fanning Out" during the spooling process.....welllll I kind of needed them to do exactly that! "Fan Out" so if you make the mistake of ordering the fiber optics without this coating removed there is a ton of additional steps to contend with. The fibers will need to soak first in an alcohol solution to breakdown and remove the coating before you can attempt to trim them. I had to contact the sales rep where I got the fibers from and he said that they can do a run of the fiber optics without this coating applied.

 So I leave you all with this. If you all are interested in getting the name and number of the company to place an order for genuine glass fiber optics I would be more than happy to provide you with that. I will also add in the comments below what supplies and tools you will need to tackle this.

Below please see the email communication between me and Mr. Stadnik. I am in black; his responses are highlighted in red.

Hello Joseph, nice to hear from you!

I'll attempt to answer as many of your questions as I can. My answers will be highlighted in red.

 

Good Afternoon, George,

 

I finally have a few minutes to get an e-mail over to you, I appreciate you giving me a few moments of your time to answer a few questions I have regarding fiber optic sprays from your days back at Fantasia. And what a unique, fun experience working with Fantasia that had to have been! At least I can imagine it was. My understanding is you were a designer for Fantasia and were in charge of coming up with new designs and ideas for their lamps. Correct.

 

If I may ask, what lamps that were produced that is well known that you have a recollection of designing and creating? 

 

The large chrome glitter lamp with the concave reflector that magnifies and extends the glitter action, most of the glitter graphics with images on them, the firefly with the perforated middle band that changes color through a rotating cylinder. The 'white' lamp on the laser cut Plexiglas legs. (This was a smaller tabletop version of the cosmos.) A version of the comet that had a perforated label to allow the bulb filament to shine through. Black light activated labels for several of the models. A mid height table lamp that had a chrome cylinder skin with slightly diagonal slits in it and a rotating color cylinder inside that looked like a neon tube chaser. And there were a lot of "one off " concept prototypes using fractured plastic fiber in tall columns and in curtain configurations. 

 

Did you have any direct involvement with the designing of the Sunburst 4000 or Cosmos 5000? No those were already created and being produced when started there. as those are by far my two most favorite lamps made by Fantasia. I am fascinated by interesting and unique lighting, I find it to be very soothing and therapeutic, I am fond of abstract art and think we need more exposure to it to fully appreciate the creativeness that goes behind it. I am a Lumia Artist; I've been working with the properties of light as an art form since 1968. Have you heard of Thomas Wilfred, Earl Reiback or Chris Sidenius?  A lot of my inspiration is from light and how it is casted amongst various objects, glass etc. and also previous lighting manufactures have helped inspire me to pursue my dream of not only owning my own lighting business but also to design my own lamps and create something unique and special to offer people.

 

What I am looking to do is make up replacement glass fiber optic sprays for a few of my lamps within my personal collection that need new sprays as well as some for my current customers. I currently sell replacement customized Color Wheels, Synchronous Motors, Halogen Sockets etc for Sunburst and Cosmos models, but no fiber optic sprays as of yet. I have the glass fiber optic cable ordered and on its way. (This is very inspiring!)

 

Here is where things get a bit confusing on my end. The most I know about fiber optics as of right now is glass fibers display much more beautifully than it's plastic competitors and look gorgeous illuminated! I know a bit about fiber optics as I have tried educating myself quite a bit over the past few years, but I have little to no experience actually "Working" with fiber optics. I do know that the glass fiber optics are sharp and pierce skin and "WOW" does a fiber optic splinter leave you guessing not only its point of entry but it sure does hurt! I am sure you encountered a few of those back in your days at Fantasia. Yes - Glass is glass and behaves the same way in fibers - it breaks and is very sharp. You should look into the latest developments in plastic fiber as well, much easier to work with and with laser LED's I think you'll be pleasantly surprised with the color intensity and results, and a lot less cooling issues.

 

I do know that the cables are spooled from the draw wheel and bundled into hundreds and thousands of fibers. This is how the raw fiber optics I ordered are being bundled and shipped to me, at least that is how it was explained to me. 3/4 wide 30 foot bundles to be exact. What is the diameter of the individual fibers, that's the important part for the shape of the spray.

 

I know I am going to need to measure these bundles and cut them down to various pre-determined lengths of about 13" 18" and 24" for most Sunburst models. Once I have done that I know that they are dipped into alcohol so that the surface tension of the fibers will allow the fibers to stick together so that they are easier to work with while setting them into the Ferrule, here is where a few of my questions come in. What are you going to use to cut them to length?

 

First, A large model Sunburst fiber spray had what appeared to be a "Crimped" end, which not only allowed the fibers to be bundled tightly but also created a small lip for the ferrule to rest upon the Brass insert on the tower of the lamp where the spray is inserted, basically preventing it from slipping down too far and hitting the color wheel. My question is, were these machined ferrules all one long pole that were cut down & crimped to make that design or were these something that were ordered specific? The ferrules were machined in a local shop in Worcester. The key design point is the inside curve of the ferrule at the end where the fibers emit to form the spray. It's a very specific radius. I would suggest finding a machinist who could copy the curve and the ferrule design exactly. They are machined from aluminum tubing with a fairly thick wall dimension. I guess what I am most curious about is do I really even need to worry about crimping the ferrule or will the epoxy keep most, if not all of the fibers tightly held together within the ferrule? The epoxy will keep all fibers inside the ferrule, if done correctly.

 

Next is the Epoxy, I know that a capillary action was used to draw the epoxy into the ferrule to soak and set, but how was this achieved? Was the spray standing straight up, how long was the ferrule dipped and soaked in epoxy? more importantly I know that not all epoxies are alike and that fiber optics need special epoxy. Any idea to the name and or kind of this epoxy and where I may have luck buying it?, Is it something I need to buy in bulk and from a special distributor? I would suggest contacting Andover Corp in New Hampshire - they provide optical grade epoxies to a variety of industries. I believe that the bundled fibers in ferrules were dipped in the epoxy then were heated in a low temperature over or with a hair dryer to set the epoxy before the capillary action went too far up the bundle and didn't allow the fibers to naturally follow that curve at the output end that I was describing earlier. The epoxy only went up maybe a 1/4 inch into the ferrule. In manufacturing, the glass fibers stuck out from the input end about 1/2-3/4" and were cut off on a wet diamond saw, then polished with optical glass polishing compounds and machines. These were all hand processes that took a lot of practice and skill to develop. The people who made these were great craftsmen and women, who learned this from the ground up. They basically invented this as they went along. 

 

And lastly my assumption is that once everything has been allowed to set with the epoxy that the ferrule is to be cut to be made "even" at the tip of the ferrule and then the fiber optic end is polished, from there I know that the spray needs trimming, which I have a barber who will be assisting me with that task, I already am planning on buying many replacement clippers because from my understanding they do not hold up very long cutting through glass! You are absolutely right.... we used to go through clipper heads like crazy. And the size of the fiber needed for the sunburst and cosmos is quite heavy and really takes a toll on the clipper heads and the clipper motors. A word of caution, there will be microscopic pieces of fiber flying around everywhere in the trimming area. Very dangerous, you'll need to control the airflow very carefully. Suggest using a booth, like a spray painting hood. But- you don't want any air moving around the fiber when you're trimming it - it could really mess up the symmetry of the spray. 

 

I think that is it, I know this was years ago for you and I truly appreciate any information you may able to help me with or anything you can remember that I may see helpful at getting these replacement sprays. I am going at this solo and have no access to large tools and a factory environment in any way but for what i have to work with I would like to do the best I can with getting these made and functional.

 

Joe - where are you doing this work? You will need a factory like space or at least somewhere you can set up different areas and operations. that are isolated from each other because you don't want to cross contaminate your materials - i.e. - smelly epoxy, heat and flammable alcohol, cutting and polishing with water, cutting glass and generating microscopic shards, breathing all that in is not healthy. at a minimum you'll need a laboratory setting with different environments. 

 

Glad to provide information but don't take it as gospel. It's a complicated process. That's why I make digital Lumia now. http://www.photonlightguitars.com

 

By the way check out the light guitar on the site - I patented it - and it uses plastic fiber. makes images that the player controls and plays like music, but images. 

 

Best Regards,

 

George Stadnik

 

Email 2

George, As always it's nice hearing back from you!

 

Thank you for your detailed response to all of my previous questions I had regarding your past with Fantasia and the fiber optic sprays! I will try to not take up too much more of your time, A few more brief things I would like to touch on. First;

 

I had asked you what lamps you had been involved with designing and was amazed to hear you mention some of the models that you had direct product involvement with. I have always wondered about and wanted a glitter lamp and to this day still have not purchased one, I am sure they are very neat to look at, I have seen them in photos and have to assume that photos do them no justice. I used to have a lava lamp and found that to be neat, however can become boring at the same time. When you bought a lava lamp you had better of liked the color of the liquid or wax because in order to get any variation you would had to have filled shelves upon shelves with them!  If you create a lava lamp with a glitter bottle (straight sides) and drop it into the cylinder - it will be much more interesting - the reflector will magnify the effect.

 

You mentioned the Celestial (White table lamp with the smoked hemisphere "Baby Cosmos") and the Omni 1500 (Small Chrome and Brass lamp with rotating cylinder "Firefly") I  have to say I love my Omni! that model gets many compliments, many of my friends and family that see that lamp say "I love how it is not just the fiber optics giving a show but also another special effect going on at the same time, very mesmerizing" I must agree with them, Our minds are very visual and sometimes when it has a lot to focus on it can add to the calming and mesmerizing experience. It’s not a baby cosmos - I believe it was called the Saturn. it had a laser cut Plexiglas base (first of its kind and a wash light that came out of slits in the bottom of each tier in the base. it looked like a flying saucer taking off. It also had a chrome band around the widest tier that would reflect the fiber ends and multiply the fiber ends around the edge.

 

I have to ask you, what got you interested in Lumia art? What drove you and inspired you to pursue the art form? Being a Lumia artist you must have found your love and inspiration early on for the art from the one original creator "Mr. Thomas Wilfred" so I am guessing? You had asked if I had heard of a few of these people, his name stuck out in my head the most from some studies I had researched on art in light forms, the other two names didn't ring a bell to me. I think it's amazing how he was able to develop and bring to life something that was very complex back in the era that he was inventing and bringing this technological art to the table, simply amazing and truly mesmerizing and beautiful! I find what you do to be very motivational and inspirational. You started working early on in your career with Lumia art, and to this day are still plugging away at it and have built a very successful lasting image for many folk and for years to come I'm sure! Seeing Opus 158 at the MOMA in New York in the fall of 1968 - on a field trip from art school (Syracuse University - experimental studios ). It's a passion/obsession that continues to fascinate even after 40+ years.

 

You suggested to me about plastic fiber optics and the vibrancy of colors within using LED's I am thinking that is the future so I would like to somehow incorporate and embrace this newer revised cheaper technology into my designs for lamps. LED illumination operates much cooler, and plastic fiber optics are much safer to handle. However currently from an "Originality" stand point I am reproducing the glass fiber optic replacements to be as close to the original fiber optic sprays once used in the original Fantasia brand lamps as possible, it will keep the lamps appeal higher as well as any resale or collecting value, or at least I can imagine it would. You may want to practice though with plastic fiber, even if you don't glue it together - it would be a great way to test length and distribution of the fiber. you'd probably need to use a 10 mil diameter plastic or even a 20 mil diameter as plastic is softer and has a different weight/curvature.

 

I forgot to mention to you last time exactly what I had ordered for the fiber optics. I went ahead and submitted a sample of a glass fiber optic strand from an original Sunburst fiber spray to get the fiber dimension as close to original as possible. As  it turns out, the size of the fiber I submitted is not something they draw regularly and I had to buy a whole run of cable! it's diameter was "point five thousandths" I believe he said. They are being sent to me in 1/4" gathered bundles (qty of 6 - 30 foot lengths) I have some Kevlar scissors ordered. I am hoping that this will do the trick cutting the fiber optic cables down to size, I am sure I will be going through a few pairs, even with them being designed to cut through glass, I was going to ask you if you could suggest something else to cut the lengths of the fibers down or in addition to the scissors.


You may be able to minimize or eliminate the cutting/trimming, if you set up the fiber in a staggered fixture. The bend of the fiber all depends on the weight/length of each fiber. if you could create a fixture that would automatically stagger the lengths of the fibers in the ferrule, you wouldn't have to cut anything other than the initial longest lengths. you could use a 1"cardboard tube to hold the bundles together, slip the ferrule around one end and put the tube/ ferrule into the fixture. The fixture would bottom out at the longest length needed to create the shortest end on the opposite side of the ferrule (the straight up fibers). Then you would need to create steps that stopped the fibers at the appropriate length. I would slip a rubber o ring around the ferrule so that you could slip it around the correctly sized bundle after it's placed in the stepped fixture. then you would trim the input end with about 1/4 " of the fiber exposed. Then put it in the epoxy glue pot and let the capillary action pull the glue into the ferrule. Then once set - either by heat or time/ you would rough trim the glued output end on a diamond wet saw. To get maximum light into and out of the fiber you need to optically polish the input end. no avoiding that. Same setup as a glass lens being polished, several stages wet, then a dry stage. Look up lens polishing.

 

So with plenty of homework and research on my end  I think I am finally all set with the ferrules, I took that key design point that you had mentioned and have found an affordable solution that will work perfectly! I even have that arched curve being taken care of where the fibers will be folding out from the ferrule to blossom like you had talked about, so we shall see. I checked out that company you recommended for the epoxy (Andover Corp) I have yet to contact someone and pricing and an order placed but that is next considering I have everything else except the epoxy, fibers are on their way. I am seeing already without even having worked on building a spray how this is a learned art form in making these. You are 100% correct when saying how skilled the craftsmen and women were building and shaping these sprays. I am determined though and never give up until I have exhausted all efforts in trying! I have faith and hope that my sprays will turn out nicely.

tell them you want to glue glass fiber optic bundles into aluminum ferrules. They may send you a bunch of samples of different types make sure you tell them you want to leave one end of the fibers free. You will need to experiment and test these to see which works best.

 

I figured I would mention, seeing how I forgot to mention in the first email to you, I am doing all of this out of my garage, I have a few separate workstations set up, different areas for different steps of the way. I am going to store the fibers exactly how I had seen it mentioned from the Fantasia light website, apparently once the fibers were cut down to size they were stored in rain gutters according to their length, awesome idea! I am going into this with a lot of caution, goggles, gloves, vinyl apron, you name it! I want it on, and want to stay protected, I do not want those tiny fiber optic bits all over me, by the way do you remember what they wore for protective gear when trimming the sprays, anything you can think of I should use to gear up with that will keep me safe while trimming? I agree with you that the air flow needs to be a certain way so that the symmetry of the spray is to not be disturbed. With that being taken into account I have the space I am working in free from any wind or anything that will have the fibers blowing about while being trimmed. I also have a Shop Vac handy to keep the area tidy and most tiny trimmed fibers sucked up.

Wear safety goggles and a respirator. And heavy duty elbow length rubber gloves. A long lab coat that buttons up to your neck and cover your hair. Basically, when you trim fiber you need to cover everything. - But if you experiment with the stepped fixture - you may only need to trim the input end on a wet saw. This would greatly reduce the danger.

 

One other question I forgot to ask you and I have a feeling it is an important one. I know the original sprays were professionally polished. Is it necessary to polish the end of the fiber optic bundle once it has been cut and the epoxy has been cured etc. If left unpolished is the light transmission affected terribly or at all or is it simply cosmetic? I know that there are "Polishing Pucks" I would need to purchase, Is it a very difficult process polishing the fibers? Again I am going into working with fiber optics the same way one would go into a dark unlit basement, "I am going in regardless, hoping to find what I need that will get the job done without getting lost" I am not trying to cut corners or cheapen the quality of the replacement sprays, however if it will involve very complex expensive equipment to get the job done than polishing may be out of the question, however if I can get a polishing and puck kit that can be used on a power tool of some sort than I would be very happy with that and would do it no questions asked. Once you understand optics polishing, see if you can find a polisher on Ebay, like from an eyeglass shop

 

I checked out your Photon light guitar on your website that you have designed and all I have to say is very intriguing! I am turned onto Lumia art, It is definitely a unique form of light and graphic expression. I am a fan and would love to learn more about the art.   Check out Lumia.org. The other names are other lumia artists (now deceased). There are a few live ones still out there (including me) - gregg stephens is a great example - check out gregg stephens design.

 

Thank you again so much for all of your help and insight to all of this, I certainly could not be achieving all of this on my own without your help and advice! There have been a lot of tips and hints that have been very helpful that I would not of thought of on my own had I just went into this totally blinded, and these sprays could have been disastrous! Hey they still may be! LOL :-) But they stand a much better chance now :-) I will be sure to submit you a photo of the completed product once complete.

 
Anytime,
George

I look forward in hearing back from you; I hope all is well on your end.

 

Best Regards,

 

Joseph

 

George had helped me in determining the spray fiber amount, here was his email to me.

exactly how many fibers will fit into one of your production ferrules?

thanks,
George

 

Hi Joe - 

 

thank you for sending me the fiber lengths. The outside ring of the ferrule contains 475 fibers. +- 5 because the fibers don't stack in perfect formation, the final total estimate will have to include fewer fibers than a 100% full ferrule. Turns out the gaps are as important as the fibers themselves.

 

That's a great sheet - I think it's after Fantasia was sold to the fellows in Pelham NY.  I spoke with the president of the original fantasia yesterday - he turned 80 yesterday told him about the popularity of the products in the collectors market. He only offered the following caution - "get some really good product liability insurance" Apparently (unbeknownst to me) the company was starting to attract law suits from consumers and retailers about glass fibers piercing people and getting stuck under their skin, etc. 

 

I would also recommend you look into product liability and indemnification as the tort landscape has changed significantly since the 1980's.  This is not a show stopper, only something to take seriously....

 

George

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Spray before trimming.

Spray before trimming.

My replacement that I made.

Looks great, you have a natural talent.

Hi! Looking great! Thanks so much for the info! 

Wow that really does look amazing!!!!

Anyone know where I can buy new motor and colour wheel for Fantasia 4000
I had replacement motors a while back, let me check. I also make color wheels. Is it a synchronous motor that you need for the fiber optics and color wheel or for the cooling fan?
Maybe both
Any news on the motors

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