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Video blog: How metal, glass, and LED lighting made a campfire come to life
By: Bob Buchanan
Lately we’ve been working on a lot of projects where metal fabrication is integrated with technology. For instance, you may have noticed those massive globes you see on Indy’s west side (as you drive in to the International Marketplace area) have bright, colorful lights inside. Those are remote controlled LEDs that can be changed with the touch of a button using a smart phone!
We used a similar approach working on a project with Context Design up at Purdue University near Mackey Arena. For this one we integrated LED lights so realistically that the neighbor thought the building was on fire! Find out how it all works in this video:
This is called The Forge. It’s up at Purdue University on the north end of Mackey Arena. It’s basically an area for kids to gather. It’s under roof. But it basically looks like a boilermaker project – so it looks like something that would be a big boiler that had blown up. They wanted it to look like something that had metal to it and rivets and it looked very industrial.
We built a pit below that. The pit was about 18 inches tall so we could service the lights and that’s where they live. We made access panels around the outside of it where you can remove the panel. At any point you can get in it. An average size guy can get in there to service them. Basically all the panels were removable. And then these lights were all in a series around it. The lights were color changing LEDs controlled from a remote site so you can sit back on your iPhone and you can change the color, you can change the sequence or the speed or the flash.
There’s probably 15 LED panels. Probably two feet long in each one of these. We ran them in a series. Ran them around and located them in such a manner that you wouldn’t actually see the lights coming up through the glass.
The glass is kind of special too. The glass is 5 inch thick molten glass that we had fabricated. The glass is about probably 5 layers of glass all fused together. The top layer is just shards of glass that were different colors: reds, yellows, and oranges. The glass was all broken and smashed and then put into a furnace and melted to give it the look of a campfire.
The average shop wouldn’t be able to take this thing from turnkey – to build not only the veins or the fins, which are difficult to build, but then to think about the pit, what the pit looks like, how you mount it to the ground, how it stays stable, how you can maintain it, how you can clean it, how you can service lights, all those different variables. So we were able to do the whole thing and it was a turnkey operation.
One of the most flattering parts about this project was after the first day this was under roof and the lights were turned on all night the neighbor lady from across the street called the fire department and said the building was on fire. So what had happened was the illusion of this thing being a campfire actually came to life, because in real life she called the fire department thinking the building was on fire. That was a compliment to us. The fire department … not so excited about it.