I did manage to complete another project during this time: choosing and buying new light bulbs for my pottery display. This topic really belongs in my last post (about my display) from The Art Festival Plan series of posts. When I wrote about my display last fall, I left out the part about lighting, because I knew I wanted to change my light bulbs. So consider this an addendum to that post. I'm about to get into some very nerdy details about light bulbs, so if you don't care to read about that, you can skip to the end to learn which bulbs I chose.
I purchased the track lighting system for my booth in 2008. Back then, compact florescent (CFL) light bulbs did not come in any color other than sickly blue, and LED bulbs did not exist. A very helpful salesperson from LampsPlus.com (where I bought the track lighting) recommended that I buy four incandescent reflector bulbs, and four halogen PAR spotlights. A reflector bulb is a triangle-shaped bulb, with a reflective coating inside except for the front face. Therefore, the light only comes out of the front face, but not in a focused way. A PAR bulb (parabolic aluminized reflector) directs light in a much more focused way, like a headlight on a car. It is a true spotlight, which a reflector bulb really isn't. These bulbs made my booth look great. The problem was, incandescent and halogen bulbs are HOT. My booth was like an Easy-Bake Oven.
After a few years of sitting in the oven, I started looking for something else. By then, CFL bulbs came in nicer colors. LED bulbs did exist but they were crazy expensive. I chose CFL reflector bulbs. The color was just about right, though sometimes I thought it was still a little too blue. The brightness was good, and they stayed totally cool, so I was comfortable sitting under them for eight hours. But there were two drawbacks. First, the bulbs are huge! They look clumsy. And second, I missed having those PAR spotlights, because they really make the display look subtly dramatic.
In the last year, I became aware that LED bulbs had become affordable. There are a lot of choices. Too many choices! So I bought three different LED bulbs to see how they look in person. From left to right: 1) the CFL reflector bulb that I'm replacing (cool but huge), 2) the halogen PAR spotlight from 2008 (tiny but hot), 3) an 8W LED PAR spotlight (delightfully tiny), 4) a 7W LED PAR spotlight (small but not delightfully tiny, cheapest of the LED bulbs), and 5) a 10W LED PAR spotlight (largest and most expensive of the LEDs).
Not sure if a photograph of light bulbs can show you what I saw, in terms of brightness, and the focus of the beams. The PAR spotlights looked so much better because of their focused beams, it made the CFL reflector bulb seem unappealing. I decided I wanted all PARs and no reflectors. I also decided that having eight track fixtures didn't quite make sense for a three-sided display. It made more sense to have nine fixtures, three per side. The 10W LED PAR (far right) was just as bright as the halogen PAR (second from left). Therefore I ruled it out. Remember I previously only had four halogen PARs (plus four reflectors). Having nine equivalent bulbs would be too bright. And besides the 10W was the largest and most expensive. The 8W and 7W bulbs were less bright. I think they were just right considering I would have nine of them. The differences between them were small. The 8W bulb was the tiniest, and the 7W bulb was the cheapest. Ultimately, I decided that given the lifespan of LED bulbs, these are the last bulbs I'm going to buy. I splurged on the delightfully tiny, 8W LED PAR bulbs. Link to the bulbs on 1000bulbs.com
One more thing I needed to test. Like I mentioned earlier, I was hoping to buy bulbs that were slightly warmer in color than my CFL reflector bulbs, which were 3500K color. All of the LED PAR bulbs I tested were 3000K color. I had to make sure this would still flatter my gray pottery.
Looks good to me! There's still a little guesswork here ... is nine the right number of bulbs? Will it be too bright or not bright enough? Also, while the bulbs are not hot like a halogen bulb, they aren't totally cool like a CFL bulb either. They are slightly warm. How comfortable will it be? I can only test that in an actual show situation. I will write a quick update to answer these questions after the Smithsonian Craft Show (April 21-24).
I know many of you are waiting for my last blog post in The Art Festival Plan series, which will be on marketing and sales. Sorry for the delay! Blame it on the Labyrinthitis. I've been thinking about it a lot, and I promise it is coming soon. I'm finding this one is harder to put into words, some of it is trickier and subtler than "do this" and "don't do that." For example, trying to do a show while feeling nauseous and dizzy will impact your salesmanship ... to be continued ...