Posts by Tony Penca
I’m the Product Manager for
lighting at Rejuvenation, providing strategic and practical input for all
lighting product offerings across all sales channels. I hold degrees in
Electrical Engineering and Finance, and have been self-employed remodeling old
homes. In addition to being Rejuvenation’s lighting guru, I’m a baker and
Two Truths and One Lie
- I spend a half hour
everyday dreaming about what I going to do with my lottery millions…now, if
only I can remember to buy a ticket.
- I was voted least
likely to succeed by my high school peers.
- I record my
emotional state every hour in my diary
My field trip to the Ohio River Valley to work with our glass partners is always my favorite; all of them are located within a few hours of each other and traveling between them is easy and beautiful. Because of its proximity to water, silica sand, and energy (natural gas), this region of the country was once the center of all glass making for the United States. As recently as the ’70s, hundreds of large glass manufacturers were concentrated in this relatively small geographic region. Unfortunately, only a handful of those companies are still around. But the few that survived are truly experts at what they do; most are family-run and have three generations of experience to help us produce our shades. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable, they are tremendous people. I always feel extremely welcome when I visit.
Mold Making in Process
My first stop was at our family-run mold maker; two brothers run the shop that their father started. We are lucky to be able to work with the best of the best in the glass mold business. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to produce half the shades we offer. These two can look at an antique shade and tell us how it needs to be made, where problems will occur, and what the mold needs to do to help prevent problems for the glass house. They will talk with the glass houses directly to determine the specifics of the mold. You may think this is the easy part of making glass, but many antique shades have not been produced for a hundred years or more–and most likely the original manufacturer is no longer in business. It’s a complicated process: we need to understand how it was originally made, and find out how it can be made today while still retaining its original qualities.
My second stop was at our pressed glass partner. Not only do they make nearly all of our pressed glass shades; they also make several of the house ware items that we offer. Pressing glass is very different from blowing glass, and we have a need for both skill sets. The shop was making our cake plates during my visit; it’s always amazing to watch how choreographed the craftsmen are when they are producing glass. Two groups are working simultaneously: one on the plate and the other on the base. Both groups have three or four members, each doing specific tasks to bring the two components together at just the right time to make a single cake plate. Molten glass is being moved quickly within a small space, amongst several individuals, and no one gets burned. Simply amazing! While I was there we discussed upcoming projects, defined details and schedules, and even chose colors of glass to sample. I can’t wait to show you our new 2012 shades.
Opal glass in the making
Last, but definitely not least, it was off to West Virginia to visit our glass-blowing partners. They blow all of our opal glass shades; the glass, called opal (pronounced oh-PAL), was developed when it was critical to maximize the amount of light that was given off by the bulbs of the time, and do it in a way that was easy on the eye. The resulting glass is both functional and beautiful, and it our opinion, second to none. We have searched for other manufacturers of this glass, and no one can come close to the aesthetic qualities we so value in lighting glass. We are very lucky to have them as one of our key partners.
While there I watched them blow several of our shades. Again, a highly choreographed team (seven members) worked as one to produce shade after shade. They are all highly skilled and use their extensive experience to produce consistently beautiful shades. The quality of the shade, from wall thickness to the decorative details, are all due to the skillful hands of the craftsman; no machine pumping out glass here.
How to make a cake plate
I also had time to visit the decorating department where a small but talented group of individuals hand paint our shades. This is always fun because I can sit with them and say “what if” and right there on the spot I can see if my idea has any merit. Most times it doesn’t, but once in a while we come up with a great idea for a future shade together.
Our glass making artisans paint every stripe by hand
What these partners do for us cannot be replicated in other countries. The skill and knowledge just doesn’t exist anywhere else. I am very proud and honored to work with them, and I am also very pleased to know that all of them are keeping and creating jobs right here in the United States.
Our Hood pendant has been a customer favorite since it launched last November. We believe a big part of the Hood’s appeal is the ability to dramatically change its look just by changing the size of the shade, adding a wire net, or changing the finish. It is a true chameleon of a fixture. That’s why were so excited to add another great shade to work with the Hood: we call it a cylindrical globe.
I saw this test tube shaped shade when we were visiting a Seattle restaurant named Bastille Café and Bar; a great French bistro that utilizes salvaged material really well throughout the space. They have a row of fixtures with these long cylindrical shades above the bar. The look is dramatic and unusual; we loved it right away.
Not long after that, I was back visiting our opal glass supplier in West Virginia. This is one of my favorite places to go, mainly because of the great family that owns the shop, but also because it’s like a museum filled with glass molds from glass factories no longer in existence. I showed the owner the picture of the shade from Bastille, and he quickly dove into his files and pulled out an old catalogue which had the exact shade we were looking for; they had bought the molds many years ago when the original makers went out of business. We are so fortunate to have such great partners.
We will carry the shade in both opal and clear glass. Here we show the Hood with the clear glass shade, and we added our new Plumen compact fluorescent bulb. We love the fact that the Plumen is not only great looking, but energy efficient as well.
In February of 2009, we introduced our hourglass family of fixtures to our Mid-Century collection. We were immediately surprised by the high demand for these fixtures, and the single wall bracket, Spektr, in particular. As much as we love the wall-washing light that the Spektr delivers, we also realized there would be applications where light was needed for the surrounding area. Wanting to develop a fixture that captured both the iconic style of the times and one that would function well as an ambient light source, we began searching our archive (we have nearly 2,000 home design catalogues dating back the the late 1800s). We quickly landed on a series of fixtures offered by Prescolite in the early 1960s, and documented in their catalogue from September 1962.
The version we chose to reproduce was the S-3234 of the Chandeline series. It is called the Gemini and it launched in early July.
The Gemini is made of machined and spun aluminum and can be ordered with shiny or etched opal glass. We think it will look great flanking a bathroom mirror, like in the photo above, but you can also mount the Gemini horizontally to hang over a mirror. Tell us what you think of the Gemini and how you would use it. Even better if you already have one- send us some pictures!
Gemini with etched glass
Have you ever wondered where the term vanity lighting comes from? One definition of the term vanity is a cabinet built around a bathroom sink, usually with a countertop, and sometimes drawers. It follows, then, that vanity lighting could be merely any lighting that illuminates the space above the bathroom sink. For me, however, vanity lighting has a much more functional meaning.
Let me explain. The mirror above your vanity or bathroom sink is the first place you see yourself each day. What you see looking back at you helps to define what type of day it is going to be. Nothing is better than a refreshed, smiling and young image looking back at you. This is where vanity lighting becomes essential and the selection of just the right light becomes critical.
Through many years of experience, and countless poorly lit bathrooms, I’ve become somewhat of a vanity lighting professional. I now understand what makes choosing the correct vanity lighting so important.
Two lights are better than one in terms of vanity lighting.
First, avoid using the wrong bulb; nothing worse than a 5000K florescent bulb giving your skin a green tint. Second, I have a strong preference for two fixtures to be flanking a mirror, rather than the single fixture mounted above the mirror. Shaving is many times easier when you have two lights: there aren’t all those shadows under your nose or double chin. There have been many occasions when I’ve walked out in to the world with obvious missed spots of facial hair. You may have noticed most serial killers also have this same problem. Not a great look when you’re trying to make a good first impression. But there is an even better reason for installing two flanking lights.
The real advantage is the effect it has on thinning hair. Lighting from both sides creates shadows on you head that make your hair look full and thick; you don’t get that blinding glare reflecting off your extended forehead. You can look up to 25 years younger. What more could you ask for? Of course you still need to learn how to deal with the rest of the day, but as long as you can resist looking at yourself in a window or mirror, you have the potential of getting through the day thinking your hairline really isn’t so bad.
The safe bet is to always go with two fixtures on both sides of the vanity mirror. Of course there are those who still have a full head of hair who would argue with my logic, but I never liked their kind to begin with.
Now you know where the term vanity lighting comes from — vanity: inflated pride in oneself or one’s appearance.
A quick Q & A with Product manager of Lighting, Tony Penca.
Clear Ruffled Shade
Blog: So Tony, with all of the colors out there, why did you choose yellow and blue to add to your assortment?
Tony: Well, we chose yellow and bottle blue for a couple reasons:
- They are historic colors that are also beautiful.
- The bottle blue reminds us of older Mason jars, while the yellow looks very similar to the straw opalescent color prized in older shades.
Blog: How do you envision them being used?
Tony: We feel that they can add a touch of color to many environments without dominating a room or screaming for your attention.
And there you have it. I think the shades speak for themselves…
Yellow Dome Shade