Just across the bay from our headquarters in San Francisco, Shawna Peterson spends her days bending glass tubes to create glowing neon art.
“Neon really is definitely a trade where you are building things from start to finish and then lighting it up, and you look at it and you get that ‘Aha!’ moment where it’s working, you know?” Peterson says. “I generally have a concept or an idea of something that just percolates, either with sometimes found objects, old signs or something, I’ll combine the two and make artwork with that. I like the contrast between something old and found, and then shiny, bright neon to go with it.”
The Dolby art curator approached Peterson about creating a piece for the walls of our new home, and glass tubes met electronics early on in the conversation.
“Dolby came to me with the concept of reproducing a circuit board in neon as a way to highlight something that’s quite an achievement at Dolby,” Peterson says. Once they’d settled on the exact circuit Peterson would re-create, a video noise reduction circuit from Dolby’s first professional video product, she got to work using blowtorches and hand tools to shape the glass tubing that she would eventually fill with neon.
“Making the circuit board proved to be a little bit challenging due to the size of the panels. Neon-tube bending is unforgiving: you push the glass too hard or you try to make it do something it doesn’t want to, it’s just going to crack on you,” Peterson says. “It had to be precise. Several went in the trash.”
The final product delivered the impact Peterson was looking for and was recently installed in our headquarters at 1275 Market Street. Seeing people’s reaction to her pieces is one of Peterson’s favorite parts of working with neon.
“I get the ‘Aha!’ moment when I do that final flip of the switch,” Peterson says, “but when people come to visit me, they get the same ‘Aha!’ and I get to see their excitement. I think that’s one of the best things about my job.”
The piece is sure to get plenty of visitors in its new home at 1275 Market Street.