I first collaborated with Michael Babin more than 15 years ago for his restaurant, Evening Star in Alexandria, where I created custom chandeliers and booth sconces out of recycled Erector set pieces. It was a very creative project where I was allowed to experiment with both formal geometric structures in the chandelier but also incorporate some whimsical accents in the sconces like vintage espresso makers, cookie presses and even Mr. Peanut! For his fine dining restaurant Birch and Barley and attached lounge Churchkey in Logan Circle, Michael and designer Catherine Hailey created two beautiful spaces that incorporate organic design elements like slate covered columns and antique Indonesian wooden salt grinders with modern masterpieces like the 9 foot copper “beer organ”.
I was commissioned to build the 2 centerpiece chandeliers for the upstairs space, Churchkey, and 11 matching sconces for the booths. My clients wanted something that was modern and at the same time meshed into the Gothic undertones of the décor. I started with two 4 ft. rings which were reclaimed from some old chandeliers that had seen better days. I refinished the surfaces to expose the original silver and brass accents and added 12 telescoping arms around the base which I covered in antiqued mirror. I suspended the rings from heavy chains to mimic the original fixture and in the middle, I dangled two hand-blown mercury glass balls. When looking up into the chandelier from below, it almost appears like a sun with rays bursting from the center ball. The reflective qualities of the balls and the arms themselves give the piece a beautiful shimmer both in daytime with the natural light flooding in from the floor to ceiling windows, and in the evening when the windows themselves reflect the inside space.
For the matching sconces in the booths, I also utilized antiqued mirrored arms and the same mercury glass balls, but instead mounted them onto reclaimed brass key plates, playing off the antique keys which are incorporated into the surface of the 75 foot bar that runs the length of the opposite wall. The decorative cups that hold the hurricane glass tubes are original to the reclaimed chandelier.