Ner Tamid (Eternal Flame) for the Lubavitch of Montgomery County, PA

February 2013 / Adar 5773
Alabaster, stainless steel, 23 karat gold, silk

The Chabad synagogue in Fort Washington, PA was renovating their entire building, and their interior designer was tasked to find a new ner tamid (eternal flame) for the sanctuary. He came up with a few images from the internet to show them as ideas, and one of them happened to be of the ner tamid that I'd made for my synagogue in Arlington, VA. To my great honor, the rabbi and their chief donor both decided that they wanted a reproduction of my design, down to the same text from Proverbs cut into the base of the lamp.

There were some differences in this build, however, in addition to the actual shape of the fire (since like the flames these pieces depict, no two sculptures are the same). Instead of cutting the letters out of sheet metal in this piece and then doming the metal, I redesigned the structures in 3D modeling software and had them 3D-printed directly in stainless steel by the good folks over at Shapeways. The rabbi wanted the metal portion to be gilded, so after grinding the surfaces smooth I applied 23-karat gold leaf over the steel—a delicate and laborious process that gave a rich and sumptuous feeling to the piece. We also used a gold-tone chain to complete the look. I discovered, when I visited them three months after the piece was finished, that the gilding on the domes had the subtle effect of matching the ceiling of the foyer that leads to the sanctuary itself.

Below are some larger detail shots of the ner tamid from different angles:

The carving begins
The major parts together
The first attempt at applying gold leaf

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