Rebirth of a family heirloom: how a standard lamp can be updated and continue to be treasured

This story started in April 2017 and has the most delightful ending in February 2018. 

It all started with an email enquiry from lovely Elspeth. She wanted to make a 50cm drum shade for a standard lamp but needed the height a little taller than my standard 23cm so we got to chatting. 

Make a 50cm diameter lampshade using 3Chooks lampshade frames and lampshade paper or styrene

Elspeth arrived at 3Chooks after spending soul-destroying hours trawling lampshades online, only to realise that the size she wanted wasn't available in the fabrics she adored, and the thought of paying £100 in shipping charges was just not going to work for her. She had decided to make it herself....great decision Elspeth! 

After confirming the lamp had a standard bulb fitting (compatible with a 28mm washer fitting), Elspeth told me the story of her treasure...

"My grandfather made the base when my Dad was a child (so probably 1940s- 50s).  When I got it the shade was cream with a green velvet trim, likely 70s vintage, but I replaced it with the only shade I could find big enough. Here is a photo of the base - the shade is in the 'take to the tip' pile."

"I haven't decided 100% on the fabric yet, but I'm leaning towards this one." Espeth explained. Pictured below, Elspeth chose an Ink & Spindle design for Cloud 9 fabrics. Organic Landscape White Mallee Navy.

If you've been following 3Chooks for a while you would know I adore Ink & Spindle fabrics. In fact, a PippiJo fabric - Water Hens in Ocean (pictured below) - is featured throughout my Lampshade Making Instructions.

As it happens Caitlin Klooger who founded PippiJo later joined forces with Lara Cameron and Tegan Rose to form what is now Ink & Spindle. I love to see these trails with twists and turns form full circles and intersections as the years go by. Another branch on this tree is that when I came to do workshops in Melbourne at the Handmakers Factory, the original venue was the Ink & Spindle printing studio - such an inspiring space to work in! (pictured below featuring the amazing Erin Lewis-Fitzgerald from Bright Sparks)


Okay...back to the subject of this blog - I got a little distracted with happy memories there ;-)

I do love stories about rejuvenating a family heirloom, especially when the current owner can then add their touch of style, in this case a new shade, without taking anything away from her grandfather's original craftsmanship. 

Elspeth continued "I'm looking forward to starting the project. I had a failed knitting project on the weekend and after unraveling weeks of knitted fabric I need a win on the board! At least this time the instructions are in English  (I tried to translate a French knitting pattern...FAIL!)"

I must admit Elspeth, I giggled a little when I read that bit, although I am SURE you weren't giggling when the unravelling was taking place!

Here is Elspeth's shade half way through the making process - a great time to place it on the base to double check that the proportions are correct. 

 "This email has been in my drafts for 9 months. That's long enough to incubate a baby...but apparently not long enough for me to send you photos of the finished product... better late than never!"

More giggling ;-) ... not to worry Elspeth, its far more important to play and create than to send silly emails! ;-)

"I love my lamp. I love the finished product; it's really professional and people comment on it when they visit. It was also surprisingly easy. Your instructions were great and although I found it fiddly to poke in the edges, it actually worked well and there's been no fabric astray in all this time. I'd definitely recommend the kits and would like to do more when I have time. I ended up running the fabric sideways to avoid having a sewn seam to get sufficient width for the circumference."

"Thanks for a fabulous product."

You are so very welcome Elspeth - thank you for sharing this beautiful story with us lamp lovers. I think your grandfather would be extremely proud to see his skilled craftsmanship paired with your gorgeous choice of fabric and your excellent handiwork. It certainly does look very professional and extremely beautiful. And now every time you reach to flick the switch on your lamp, I hope those happy memories will make you smile. 

Lampshade making really is a very simple craft: all you need is just a little bit of patience, the right equipment and the gift of time to yourself...bliss! 

1 comment

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