About the Artist
One-of-a-kind J.A. Hokkanen wood and glass lamps are designed and built by Joel Hokkanen in the coastal village of Rockport, Maine. His work is featured in art galleries and at shows throughout New England. Joel is a member of the Maine Crafts Guild and the Maine Woodworkers Association.
Best in Show
The 12-support table lamp design was awarded Best in Show at the November 2016 Fine Furnishings Show in Pawtucket, Rhode Island! The judges noted “the nicely bent laminated supports with innovative removable peg fasteners that keep the shade in place.”
My end-goal for any project is a piece that feels organic and natural. I look for beauty inherent in shape and form, rather than added ornamentation.
Our natural spaces here in Maine are filled with beautiful organic shapes that inspire my designs. When really looking closely at natural forms like the curves and tapers of tree trunks and the branching of foliage, you can often find a remarkable adherence to underlying mathematical principles, such as parabolic curves and Fibonacci sequences. It is here that I see a beautiful balance between the free-form natural world and our modern-human world of planning and calculation. I often use these mathematical relationships in my designs as I try to blend these two worlds together.
I build lamps to last. The wood and glass structures are surprisingly strong and are designed so that cords, sockets and switches can be replaced should your grandchildren decide to convert their heirloom to the latest cordless fusion technology. J.A. Hokkanen lamps are assembled with a mix of traditional and innovative joinery techniques, including many methods developed specifically for the unique challenges of combining wood and glass. The wood joints are strengthened with all-wood joinery techniques that fit with such precision that nails and screws are largely unnecessary. I inset the glass panels within the wood, constructing the shade around the glass so it becomes one solid structure. Shades are removable from the bases, held either by pegs, wood clasps or wrought copper supports. If you have an opportunity to see my work in person, don’t be afraid to pick it up and examine – it’s not as fragile as it might look!
A woodworker can never be too choosy about wood. We are fortunate to have here in New England some of the most beautiful hardwoods in the world, growing in our forests and backyards and along our streets. A little searching can turn up the exceptional grain patterns of curly maple, birdseye, and burls. And we have a great color palette to work with as well. I rely primarily on three local species for my work: Sugar Maple, American Cherry, and Black Walnut. I salvage great wood whenever I can find it. An early ice storm in November 2014 damaged trees throughout midcoast Maine. Sadly many big beautiful old trees were lost, but I was able to salvage a supply of incredible hundred-year old maple from a blowdown which narrowly missed the workshop!
Most of the glass used in J.A. Hokkanen lamps is handmade by a small family-owned glassworks in Pennsylvania called Youghiogheny Opalescent Glass. While most bulk-produced colored glass today has become dull and ordinary, I look for bold handmade patterns and unusual textures, often so unique that no two sheets are ever exactly alike. I have just recently added a kiln to the workshop and will be experimenting with making glass panels – this is a fascinating art with endless exciting possibilities for lighting projects.
I use finishes and techniques that highlight the wood’s unique natural features, bring out the beauty of the grain and the full richness of the natural color. Typically deep-penetrating, hand-rubbed finishes like oils and oil-varnish blends best achieve these effects. These finishes can be time-consuming to apply, requiring multiple applications, but the end result is always well worth the work. I generally avoid film finishes, which build up on the surface of the wood and rarely use stains or dyes.