You”re lounging in the inner sanctum of your lair, surrounded by black lace and taxidermy. You realize that the impossible finally happened: it”s too dark. You need more light by which you can read your tomes of Romantic poetry and Victorian medical oddities. What”s a decor conscious goth to do? After all, you can”t just run to Target!
Luckily for you, there”s Spike Vain”s creepy creations. A veterinary oncologist technician by trade, Vain creates lamps using old X-rays that have a darkly beautiful glow. And it wouldn”t be the first time someone repurposed X-rays for something non-medical. We got to chat with Vain for a deeper look into her creations.
ViralNova: What gave you the idea or motivated you to create lamps from the X-rays?
Spike Vain: The idea manifested after seeing a store window”s display of X-rays. At that point in time, I had my own small collection of X-rays and was thinking of ways to display them. I used a few in hanging pendant lights and realized it created a beautiful effect.
ViralNova: How do you select the X-rays? Do you put them together based purely on how they look, or do the collections have a larger theme?
SV: It depends. If I am making a bespoke piece for a client, they may have specific image requests like fractures with surgical implants in a dog. At that point, I pick the best pieces for that specific lampshade frame. If I am making a piece to sell, I usually have a theme or series in my head already, like spinal or abdominal anomalies.
ViralNova: Do you make other forms of art?
SV: I do. I am a photographer, as well. My partner and I are called Cyanosis Photography. We are just starting to build our online portfolio. I also make various home goods like printed glass bottles, coasters, and hand-printed apparel.
ViralNova: What inspires you?
SV: Other artists inspire. If I”ve hit a creative wall, I will stare at a Joel Peter Witkin photograph or Chagal painting, and the wall dissipates.
ViralNova: Do you have a dream project you”d like to work on?
SV: I have several dream projects, one of which just coincidentally happened. It was a collaborative lamp fabrication project between myself, SuziQ, a bone artist/taxidermist from Indiana, and Jesse Connell, a bone and metal artist from Ohio. SuziQ and I became friends on Instagram and started chatting about collaborating on a lamp. She built the base out of deer vertebrae.
Then, she sent me a stack of her own X-rays from when she had knee surgery, so the shade is her post-op knee with multiple surgical implants. I used her films to make the shade, during which time the lamp base was sent to SuziQ”s friend Jesse Connell, who beautifully stained the vertebrae in a blackened copper patina. This is my first collaboration and it was amazing. Both SuziQ and Jesse are brilliant artists, and it was such an honor to be part of this trinity.
Vain”s shade for the collaborative project.
ViralNova: Besides their practical purpose, what would you like your lamps to convey to people as pieces of art? Do you want your creations to tell a story?
SV: I would love my lamps to bridge a gap between medicine, science, and art. I have worked for and assisted in surgery with several board certified veterinary surgeons who, by all rights, were artists. They could take a shattered bone and piece it back together so fluidly that one would think it was etched in their DNA. Or a surgeon who could resect a huge tumor, yet close the wound so meticulously that one would never know that a sizable piece of tissue was cut out. Also, my fascination with X-rays has been lifelong. They truly expose us in our fragility. They can also document our mortality as the inevitable aging process takes effect.
ViralNova: Have you treated any of the pets that are displayed in your creations?
SV: Yes, and I have collected quite a few from patients who have since passed. Those are very dear to me.
ViralNova: Are all of your lamps for sale?
SV: Yes, and I occasionally do trades — my neck tattoo was a trade for an X-ray table lamp.
Vain with Flea, one of her three-legged Chihuahuas. You can see one of the lamps behind her.
If you”re interested in Vain”s creations, you can purchase one of your own on her Etsy shop. You can also see her lampshades on her website and online portfolio. We suggest you follow her Instagram for a peek at her pretty rockstar life, as well as her latest art projects.