Around the second half of the 1990’s, I was in my early forties when the
Estates at the Ranch in Española was just finished. I got another project
from the Siri Singh Sahib. He had bought six crystal chandeliers from
Jerry in Los Angeles and had them shipped. He called ahead and asked me
to have them unpacked and assembled as he arrived.
These things were big, about 5 feet tall, and about the same in diameter.
They were intricate, each with hundreds of hanging crystals. They were
also old. They had been wired for electric lights many decades ago and the
wiring was all funky and unsafe.
I spent about three weeks disassembling, wiring and reassembling. All of
my work was inside the main hall, and went on intermixed with the daily
life at the Estate. As much as possible I would work through the night and
start again as early as I could, so that the project would be finished
When the Siri Singh Sahib arrived back in Española, he wanted me to hang
all the chandeliers from the ceiling, spaced out evenly across the room.
Most all of the staff disagreed and thought the chandeliers would
overpower the room and look cheesy. A compromise was reached to hang one
and see how it looked.
Each chandelier came with a stand like a floor lamp and when each was
complete, it would go on its stand on the floor.
Hanging them from the ceiling was quite a production, what with their
weight and delicacy. Once the first one was up and lit at night, the look
was so spectacular that the compromise was altered and another two were hung.
Day by day, one more, then one more, until five of the six were up.
In the evening we were all together with all the crystal lights glowing
and everybody was in awe. In my own style, as I thought there was some
social capital to spend, as I had done the work, I reminded everyone, that
although it was beautiful now, the Siri Singh Sahib was the only one who
originally wanted this design.
The next day, it was not just the Siri Singh Sahib, it was also my teacher
whom I met.
He said; “The lights are all beautiful. Thank you. But there is still one
chandelier that is still on its stand. That lantern would look most
beautiful outside hanging above the porch.”
I said, “But Sir, the wind will just rip it apart.”
He said; “Figure it out my son”.
A week later I reported.
“Sir, we need a surrounding case that will protect the crystals and still
let it be seen. I talked with a plastic company in Albuquerque who can
extrude a seamless Lexan tube, big enough. The estimate is $15,000.”
“Have you gone crazy? All the chandeliers didn’t cost that much in the
“Sir, I thought you might think that. I got another bid for a seamless
polycarbonate box at $5,000. “
“You have $150 and 24 hours to fix this.”
Overnight, I welded a frame out of angle iron, painted it gold and gave it
Plexiglas sides. It broke the first time I transported it. I rebuilt
it, and after a few tries I hung the chandelier and the frame. I spent
another extra $50, but I never told him.
The chandelier is still, to this day, living nicely in its little box
Ask me some day and I will tell you the lesson I learned, and am still
learning from that day.