Invented by a designer, for designers - a unique history that led to the development of Dichrolam:
A six year old boy from Chesterland, Ohio runs into the back yard just before school, and checks the previous days experiment. With saucer wide eyes he slides the hardened mud pie off the patio table as he marvels how it holds its diamond shape and then picks at the pattern he fingered into it the day before.
|Thus the beginning of John Blazy's fascination with polymers (liquids that get hard) and geometric design. Realizing at age thirteen that he would be a furniture designer/builder, John wins professional level awards in woodcarving even before high school. After numerous awards in high school art competitions with media from oil painting to photography, and being the only student to ever win two "Best of Show" awards in the nine-county wide industrial arts shows, John majors in Furniture Design at Rochester Institute of Technology where he hears lectures from Dakota Jackson, witnesses Dale Chihuly and his team blowing glass vessels the size of giant deep sea clams, and has his tables personally critiqued by Wendall Castle,"the father of the art furniture movement"
Determined to build a portfolio, John funds his addiction by starting a high-end cabinetry business and produces furniture pieces in a style he soon follows vigorously - Art Deco. A hall table, "The Orient Goes Moderne" is juried into Fine Woodworking Magazine's Design Book Six as John's first professional award.
With the memory of a large argument John had at RIT over the potential of originality in design, he sets out to prototype the following design that was fueled by the narrow-minded nay-sayers and "Crimson Tunnel Syndrome" was created.
This was the beginning of John's fascination with non-traditional materials like PVC pipe, melamine and two-way mirror. It also was to foreshadow where his future was ultimately going - a total fascination with light and light manipulation. Crimson Tunnel Syndrome is juried into Ohio Designer Craftsmen'sBest of 1991 exhibition that year.
The Ohio art market was not very supportive of a local artist with work that takes up floor space, but would consider work for the wall. John soon launched a series of hall mirror designs that began exploring progression gradations in stacked MDF while further exploring new materials to adhere to one of the tenets of Art Deco design - cutting-edge materials. John also discovered an interesting technique to solvent-bond bookmatched exotic wood veneers to PVC pipe, and coat with high solids automotive finishes. This developed into curved designs for the mirror's capitals and bases in welded PVC, then coated with pearlescent automotive finishes and the use of stainless steel for the triple-plate "cooling fin" metaphors in his new machine-age hall mirror design called "Deco You".
John recieved orders for several mirrors from shows and soon met a jeweler using the wildest glass he ever saw - dichroic glass. This glass actually changed colors upon viewing angle. It was developed in the space program where it is made in multi-million dollar metal vapor deposition chambers in which the glass is placed in the chamber, all the air is vacuumed out, and an electron laser beam vaporizes certain metals to coat the rotating glass with multiple layers of molecule-thin metals to create a lightwave filtering effect called thin film physics.
John immediately contracted this jeweler to inlay Ripple dichroic glass into the tri-plates of a new mirror design, a mirror that sold within a half hour of its first public exhibition - even with a five hundred dollar markup for this eighty dollar-per-square-foot glass. One day, a few designers walked into the trade-only designer showroom called SpecSource that represented John's designs and commisioned John to design and execute the planter furnishings for the Sherwin Williams world headquarters lobby in downtown Cleveland, and then agreed to a sizable additional charge for the inlaying of Fibroid patterned dichroic glass into twenty of the planters, including a twelve foot stairwell planter.
At this point John has further awards and shows like ICFF and ACC Baltimore behind him and is often stopping in to SpecSource in Beachwood, OH to collaborate on further commissions. When John drives to this showroom, he is curious about a company that moves in next door to SpecSource. This company specialized in UV curable coatings, and John takes a peek, gets a plant tour, and is intrigued by a polymer system that is 100% solids, cures withing seconds, is harder than any other type of finish and is not affected by acids or strong solvents.
|This coating would drastically reduce John's production finishing time, and he strikes a deal to help develop the chemistry in exchange for use of the paints and facility. Soon the company offers John a position as an Application Chemist and John denies for JBD reasons. Then the financial reality of a filet mignon designer living in a burger king town forces John to take a part-time position. Enjoying this new way to use his gift of creativity, John has a blast formulating and testing this exotic polymer and successfully formulates one the first pigmented UV coatings for commercial brake drums and develops other groundbreaking processes that results in two patents in this new polymer science.
Then came a day when John was playing after hours on low-shrink thick film clear coats and he decided to marry dichroic films with this magic liquid. The rest of the story is just a little too proprietary - sorry.
Dichrolam was born, the UV company folded, John re-instates JBD and the Dichroic Laminates Division was formed, and now Sony Style, Disney, MTV, Norwegian Star Cruise Lines, the new Oklahoma City Federal Building, and lately Bloomberg Financial are discovering this awesome product at a fraction of the cost of dichroic glass, yet without the size limitation (dichroic glass comes in 24" x 24" max), and surface vulnerability.
John now has the priveledge of being the first designer to use this cool material, as his art drove the science, and now the science is driving the art. Sometimes a designer must invent the very materials he is designing for . . .
John has not lost his love of wood and techno-innovation, so when he's not making Dichrolam, he is finishing and enjoying his mahogony, glass-bottomed boat that he designed and built.
This is not just aesthetic, curvacious design and state of the art epoxy construction, but a collection of real innovations, some of which have never been done in boatbuilding before:
- Use of hardcoated Polycarbonate viewing windows instead of glass (risky)
- Epoxy / fiberglass lamination methods using release films that elimate hours of labor and fluid loss problems
- Use of a "Kort" Nozzle, (thrust-enhancing, hydrofoil "ring" around prop) added to conventional trolling motors in conjunction with high-pitch props to provide primary propulsion power comperable to gas engines.
- Offset steering via chain drive
In reference to an article John submitted to a boatbuilding magazine:
"Thanks for another great article. Glad to see that the famous glass-bottomed boat finally got wet. Your earlier article generated more buzz than anything we have ever posted. I still hear references about it." - Chuck Leinweber, editor/owner of Duckworks Magazine
Click on thumbnails below for detail enlargements.
Semi-submersible experiment below (worked pretty well - pain to launch):
Pics from my blacklight filtered Dive light: