The Lamps of Wil­liam Mor­ris

The artist, once a ma­chin­ist, works in sev­eral me­dia- brass, wood, mica, and leaves, along with pot­tery and glass bases- to make stun­ning art lamps

Arts and Crafts Homes - - CONTENTS - by Regina Cole

IRON­I­CALLY, THE GLASS ARTIST’S IN­SPI­RA­TION does not in­volve the fa­ther of the Arts & Crafts move­ment, his 19th-cen­tury English name­sake. “Years ago, I as­so­ci­ated the name with the tal­ent agency,” Mor­ris laughs. Wil­liam Mor­ris ex­plains that his orig­i­nal craft was that of a ma­chin­ist: he ex­e­cuted all San man­ner Fran­cis­coof ship wa­ter­­pairs on the He grad­u­ated to ma­chine shops and the ex­act­ing tol­er­ances of pro­to­type work. To­day, how­ever, Mor­ris makes art­ful ta­ble lamps com­posed of pot­tery ves­sels, ma­hogany bases and caps, mica shades, and solid brass fit­tings. He de­scribes the jour­ney from ma­chin­ing to lamp de­sign­ing and build­ing as a nat­u­ral pro­gres­sion, his cre­ative drive ex­press­ing it­self in more and more spe­cific terms. “It has been an in­ter­est­ing process,” Mor­ris muses. “I do keep get­ting bet­ter at it.” While he was still work­ing at a Bay Area ma­chine shop, he started col­lab­o­rat­ing with a fel­low ma­chin­ist who was also a fur­ni­ture maker. Af­ter he learned cab­i­net­mak­ing, he struck out on his own, in­spired by a men­tor who made Greene and Greene light­ing re­pro­duc­tions. Those com­po­si­tions of wood and stained glass sparked Mor­ris’s de­ter­mi­na­tion to cre­ate beautiful Arts & Crafts lamps, which he be­gan to make with his wife 20 years ago. To­day he prides him­self on be­ing a one-man busi­ness en­tirely driven by in­di­vid­ual or­ders from clients who find him via his web­site.

“Each piece is made to or­der, and I care­fully source all the ma­te­ri­als,” Mor­ris ex­plains. “You know, it doesn’t have to be solid brass un­der the shade—many peo­ple don’t care about the fit­tings. But I do. The work is ei­ther right or it’s not, and you do it un­til it’s right.”

Mor­ris is con­stantly re­fin­ing and ad­just­ing as he part­ners with var­i­ous glass and pot­tery mak­ers. While he made floor lamps for most of the past two decades, now he fo­cuses solely on desk and ta­ble lamps.

“Ev­ery­thing has its time…when the en­ergy is not right, the re­sult is no good,” Mor­ris says. “I do this work to bring love and beauty into ev­ery­day life.” a

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