We’d like to introduce Lisa Raphael of Raphael Creations. Lisa has been a Sundial Wire customer since 2012 and we chatted with her to find out more about her work and the process she brings to creating her pieces.
Sundial Wire: Could you describe your work and how you got started making lighting?
Lisa Raphael: Growing up, I collected many different artifacts – from cameras to typewriters and instruments. I create functional artwork out of vintage non-working materials. Raphael Creations started with an old Underwood typewriter that was collecting dust. Next thing you know, I turned it into a lamp. I literally started creating lighting out of anything I could get my hands on as long as it was early 1800s and 1900s. In 2012 my father’s illness had taken a turn for the worse and my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew I needed to scale back on my film production gig in order to spend more time with them. The lamps took a step to the foreground and I began to sell my work. I jumped full-time into making lamps and I haven’t had a day job since.
SW: It’s great that you were able to turn your family difficulties into a creative direction. Can you tell us what inspired you to start making lights out of microphones, musical instruments and vintage fans?
LR: I had a Shure 55 mic in my collection. I got it right out of high school and was terrified to alter it, but since it wasn’t in working condition I took a huge chance that ended up paying off. I started running into a lot of discarded vintage instruments and decided I would bring them back to life. Growing up I played piano so it was natural for me to want to keep these beautiful pieces from ending up in the salvage yard. There was also a Westinghouse fan I turned into a 4 bulb lamp. That piece took me a few tries to perfect and now it’s one of my top-selling lamps.
SW: Which of your pieces are you most proud of and why?
LR: I am most proud of my hanging pieces, because I get to be more creative. I came up with 2 pieces that were made out of a 1920s 13-inch glass syringes. I then decided to shred up several hundred-dollar bills and stuff the syringe with the bills. Both pieces found great homes up North and on the east coast. I’ve also had some incredible commissions – one of which was to create a logo lamp for a web series. It took about a month and a team of 3 people to bring my ideas to life, but it was all worth it. All 300 pounds of it! It was so robust we ended up fabricating a special metal case for that sign.
SW: Where do you find your materials – or do they find you?
LR: My materials are a just about everywhere. I would love to drive around the country and pick, but unfortunately I haven’t gotten the chance to do that yet. I also have a lot of wonderful people who know exactly what I look for and they bring it right to my door.
SW: Who or what is inspiring you right now?
LR: I have very creative people in my life, both family and friends. They inspire me daily.
SW: You grew up in Los Angeles, how did that influence your work?
LR: Since I was a kid I always had aspirations of becoming a film/TV director. For the last 25 years I’ve had the privilege of not only fulfilling that dream, but also being a photographer, cinematographer and producer. A lot of my work contains throwbacks to my first craft. The cameras, reels and film pieces are some of my favorite lamps and the most popular sellers.
SW: We know you love pugs. Do they help with the creative process?
LR: My pugs are the best. I recently lost my two babies, Ashley & Gobbles, within a year and a half of each other. I had the privilege of raising them for the last 16 years. Now I am blessed to have two rescues pugs, Samantha & Murphee, who make me happy beyond belief. They usually like to hang out in my workshop and watch me create (while begging for treats). They make me truly happy.
SW: What’s the best part of what you do?
LR: The best part is meeting so many amazing people. Seeing the joy on their faces when they pick out, then take a home a piece, is just crazy to me. It still amazes me that people want something I made in their personal space. Thinking about that keeps me humble and on my toes. Every weekend at the Trading Post I meet hundreds of people. If I could cash in every compliment, I would be a millionaire!
SW: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in making your pieces?
LR: I’m my own worst enemy – lol. I can be very hard on myself when it comes to my art. There have been issues with people copying my work, so I constantly push to create the next best thing. Sometimes it takes everything in me not to throw in the towel, but then I get a reminder that I am doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do. I would love a dedicated workshop with state of the art machinery. It would make creating easier, but for now I’ll keep dreaming.
SW: What are you working on right now?
LR: I am currently working on a few commissions. And I just started on the first of many gas pump handle lamps for the Hammer and Nails Mens Grooming Salon franchise. They are opening 200 hundred locations across the country and I have the privilege of being one of their featured artists.
SW: Thanks Lisa!