SOFFIT DESIGN - FEEDBACK REQUESTED!
In the background I have been working hard to finalize my finish carpentry design aesthetic, mostly because I need to know precisely what to wire for both 120v and low voltage wires. As previously posted, I have purchased a sophisticated Philips Color Kinetics RGB LED lighting system for this room and it takes wiring that I've personally never had to run or use before and offers features, like Grafik Eye integration, that I didn't know were available until I got the system. So it may seem a bit premature to start looking at this now, but it's actually quite important.
I think I've settled on a design that is functional first and yet incorporates several sleek Art Deco design elements, but I'd like to hear everyone's feedback. I offer you another one of my patented engineering drawings (hey, it worked for the coffered ceiling, didn't it?
Now I haven't figured every single detail and molding out yet, but this is more of a working concept that I'd like to lead you through, step-by-step. A special thanks to Cowger and J_P_A to help wargame different approaches to get the look as easily and as inexpensively as possible. First, the underside of the soffit with upward curve. To maximize my veneer material yield, I need the total depth of the assembly, including the curve, to be 24" or less. In case you don't recall, I am using an African Mahogany veneer that has a highly linear grain pattern. I'd like the grain to come out from the wall and wrap up around the curve which means that I do not want the grain of veneer to be parallel with the side wall. Here's another pic of the veneer for those that joined this thread later:
To create the curve, I was considering a number of approaches, including longitudinal kerf cuts at a very specific angle and then gluing, bending and clamping in a form to save the position. While discussing things with JPA, we both simultaneously came to the conclusion that I could buy a pre-fab solid column and cut to size. HERE
is an 8" solid column from Menards that should work perfectly for my needs. I calculated that I would need to purchase three columns to have enough pieces for my entire room if my yield is five pieces per column. I'd really like a taller upcurve, but I have a limited soffit height and this at least gets me the gentle curves of the Art Deco style. With the assembly figured out, the question then becomes how to veneer these curved pieces in a vacuum press without the pressure distorting the assembly. I'll probably have to make a form of some sort, in addition to buttressing the inner curvature with some blocking. It shouldn't be too difficult to figure something out.
The end result would be something like this:
The effect of cantilevering the upcurve is that it will create a mini "shelf" for me to house the RGB LED lighting and place a 3-sided Melamine box to get the indirect reflection of the light. I will be using 80 Philips iColor Cove fixtures (pictured below) that connect end-to-end to give 100% uniform coverage. These just don't turn on and produce colors, but are individually addressable pixels that produce infinite variation of light color and intensity. In other words, you can create advanced color chases and other light movements if you so-choose.
The look I am trying to recreate and make my own comes from a soffit design I saw while touring the Paramount Theater in Oakland, CA. Here are a few pics of this soffit design.
Instead of etched glass, I am looking at a glass rod style. If you look at enough Art Deco "Style Moderne" light fixtures, you'll see the use of glass rod in many different configurations. Here are a few original and reproduction fixtures:
At first I contacted a glass rod manufacturer, and while the rods themselves were relatively inexpensive, the blade to cut them approached $300 and the clear-drying optical grade adhesive was expensive. Plus, I was concerned about potential rattles by using glass. I looked for an alternative, preferably in a resin panel. I ended up finding what I was looking for from the same company that produces the alabaster panel, 3-Form. This is their Varia EcoResin Vertu V Mondo
which looks exactly like glass rod.
They have a clear panel and a variety of opaque panels. I'm not sure which I will choose but will be ordering samples for my mock-ups with the actual lighting. The panels come in a variety of thicknesses, but I am looking at the 3/4" thickness because there's a lot of polished nicked U-channel like THIS
, normally intended for glass shower enclosures which I could use to hold these panels. The channel has inner gasketing that will guarantee absolutely no rattles. I would cut the 4'x8' panels into 4' wide pieces approximately 8" high. The U-channel will give me a touch of polished nickel finish up in the soffit area. I would then partially cover this U-channel with some sort of molding to bridge the gap where indicated. Ideally, I'd like for this assembly to be removable so I could service the lighting behind. Probably a simple Velcro or Neodymium magnet closure mechanism to make things easy. I am leaning toward Velcro on the back side of the U-channel against a piece of blocking.
As you can see, this will be a difficult soffit to build and in order to get the joints perfect, I am entertaining the notion of building the entire assembly on the ground, piece-by-piece and then raising it up 90% of the way with cribbing. On the day of final installation I would have about 20 friends come over to lift the last 10% and hold while I secured the soffit assembly to the soffit framing. I believe the two main fixation points will be near the wall (which can be hidden by crown) and directly into the vertical framing of the soffit, covering the screw heads with a piece of molding. I realize there are a lot of logistics to figure out yet, but this is my rough plan for now.
Thoughts / feedback appreciated!!