I have written some articles in the past about large choros chandeliers that I have designed and installed. But today, I’d like to introduce a number of other lighting projects: individual or unusual fixtures, chandeliers in interesting places, and other pieces I’ve had the pleasure of making.
I will start with a recent chandelier I made for my own church, Holy Ascension, in Mt. Pleasant, SC (OCA). I had installed the large choros under the dome in 2012, and four years later I was asked to make a second, smaller, chandelier to hang in the barrel-vaulted nave. I felt that the space called for chandelier eight feet in diameter, but hanging from a single chain. I chose a rigid ten-sided ring with five chains as the form for the fixture, but otherwise followed the detailing on the dome choros. Like all my chandeliers, it is made from laser-cut steel with a black-oxide patina.
For the inscription, I chose a verse from Psalm 27: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, which I will require: Even that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the fair beauty of the Lord and to visit his holy temple.”
This fixture is quite an original design, not closely based upon any historic example. It joins a number of other chandeliers that I installed in Holy Ascension, all hanging at the same level, forming a canopy of stars between Earth and Heaven – painted in the dome above.
When I was subsequently asked to create a set of chandeliers for St. Nicholas Orthodox Church in Billings, MT (OCA), I thought that this design might work well there. The church occupies a historic building with a low flat ceiling, with no dome from which to hang a typical multi-chain choros. Here I made an eight-sided rigid fixture of six-foot diameter, and bearing an inscription from Revelation: “There shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.” The horizontal-proportions of this fixture work well in such a space, and would seem to be a good solution when faced with the common problems of converting a Protestant church to Orthodox use.
I have, in the meantime, installed several larger choros chandeliers of the multi-chain type. One most interesting project was at Mary Undoer of Knots Shrine, a Byzantine Catholic chapel atop Mt. Lemmon in Arizona. This chapel was privately built as a spiritual offering to the multitudes who ascend Mt. Lemmon to enjoy its natural beauty. It is a wooden structure in Carpatho-Rusyn style, with an octagonal cupola. I built an eight-sided choros, ten feet in diameter, and installed it there in 2018, struggling to catch my breath at 8,100 feet altitude!
Another choros, which I installed in 2017, is at St. John of Damascus Orthodox Church in Poway, CA (OCA). This chandelier is thirteen feet in diameter, and looks marvelous against the beautifully painted dome and fine iconostasis.
A final choros of mine has been installed in St. Cornelius Orthodox Church in Amersfoort, The Netherlands (Moscow Patriarchate). It is twenty feet in diameter and hangs from twelve thirty-foot chains – the largest I have yet designed.
This parish purchased a former Roman Catholic church – a cathedral-sized Neo-Gothic building. They commissioned the choros along with other furnishings to help bring the space down to human scale, for a more intimate and Orthodox liturgical character. The choros had to hang from the immense brick vaults, with each chain a different length. I designed the fixture (with inscription in Dutch), and had the steel parts robotically cut and assembled in the Netherlands. It was an interesting challenge to produce pictorial instructions so that people overseas could understand how to assemble and install it – people who speak Dutch and use the metric system, no less! It was my particular pleasure to include some locally meaningful motifs in the ornament – Dutch galleons of the golden age!
Not all my fixtures are for Eastern churches. In 2016 I made a large set of chandeliers for Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church in Jasper, GA. These were unusual for me in that they include downward-pointing spotlights, and some unique lantern-shaped fixtures.
I also occasionally make custom fixtures for residences, such as these, installed at Mugdock Castle, Sullivan’s Island, SC:
Or this small chandelier, made for a house owned by a pious Greek:
Over the years, I have made a number of light fixtures for Trinity College Chapel (Episcopal), in Hartford, CT – an important monument of Gothic architecture, built in 1933. My first commission there was to design and furnish reading lamps for the choir stalls – a tradition peculiar to English cathedrals. The choir stalls themselves are a masterpiece of woodcarving, and called for very fine metalwork. I designed hexagonal candlesticks in the style of Jacobean brasswork, and had them cast at a foundry. We installed 124 of them.
I subsequently made several steel chandeliers for the Romanesque-style crypt-level of the chapel, including a round corona chandelier:
As a future project, we hope to make a set of magnificent tall chandeliers to hang in the upper chapel, in Byzantine style, with pendant glass lamps. I produced this photo-mockup of my proposed design:
As a final project, one that is still under construction, I will share some pictures of chandeliers I recently installed at St. John of the Ladder Orthodox Church in Greenville, SC (OCA). This church is my own design, and has been under construction for the past two years. It is not fully complete, but I have installed many of the chandeliers already.
In a case like this, where I must design many chandeliers for a large space, I like to produce a computer model of the fixtures within the church. This allows me to try out various sizes and configurations, and decide how big they should be and how high they should hang. Then I produce a more detailed computer model of each fixture, so I can see how it will really look, and refine the ornamentation, chain angles, etc.
I have installed fifteen chandeliers so far. The large central choros will come later, after the dome is painted.