Once upon a time, when King Arthur ruled Camelot, there lived The Lady of the Lake. Centuries later, Sir Walter Scott wrote a poem about her. But in our time (since precisely 1998), we have the Lake Lady of the Lampshade.
I know it sounds a bit bizarre, but in Pawlet, Vt., that's how conditions are... (with apologies to Lerner and Loewe, "Camelot," 1967).
Judy Lake was dubbed the Lampshade Lady years ago, and the sobriquet stuck like the grosgrain trim on her custom shades.
She had been fashioning lampshades for nearly a decade, selling them at crafts and antiques shows. When she and husband Carson settled in tiny Pawlet Village, she set up shop in a cottagey pink house with a sprout-green door. And thus was born Lake's Lampshades.
Velvet Shirts And Postcards
Lake makes fabric shades from old and new yard goods but also from worn velvet shirts, vintage floral handkerchiefs and funky chenille bedspreads. The needlepoint project you never finished can get a life, transmuted via Lake's alchemy into an illustrious shade. Vintage postcards or baseball cards can become personalized travel and sports mementos, lit from within.
She makes lamp bases as well, from old parts — anything from candlesticks and vintage lamp bases to cowboy boots, coffee cups and children's blocks.
Lake's textile sources include flea markets like the one in Brimfield, Mass.; shows; antique shops; and textile vendors. She finds other supplies, such as wire frames and pressure-sensitive styrene, at lampshade supply vendors (her primary resource is The Lamp Shop in Concord, N.H., 603-224-1603, http://www.lampshop.com). Ribbon, cloth trims and more mundane supplies like quick glue come from fabric retailers such as Calico Corners, craft suppliers like Michael's and specialty trim stores
Attendees at the "How To" classes Lake teaches at her Pawlet shop can bring shade cover material with them or purchase fabric from her stash of vintage bits and bolts. The typical on-hand inventory has a few hundred shades in a spectrum of shapes, sizes and styles. Lake has learned, however, that despite the many shades she has, "I never have the right one for everyone," spurring constant custom orders.
In her colorful blog, lampshadelady.typepad.com, Lake recounts her adventures running a small business and features photos of recent creations.
Do Try This At Home
In her recent book, "The Lampshade Lady's Guide to Lighting Up Your Life," written with Kathleen Hackett, Lake collects more than 50 shade examples for DIY-ers to try. The introduction lays out basic techniques, followed by chapters teaching easy, intermediate and advanced shades. Lake says the drum shade is the "now" shade, which is why we chose it. Coincidentally, it's also an easy one.
Use a dark winter day to light up your castle.
FUNKY DRUM SHADE
Judy Lake says it took a while for her taste to adjust to the drum shade style, but now she loves it. Drum shades are not too difficult to make, she says, and they work beautifully on modern bases and on end table lamps, floor lamps and hanging lamps over a dining room table.
She says it's critical to choose fabrics that laminate easily, since a drum shade requires quite an expanse of fabric, and every ripple shows up. Stay away from silk, cotton sheeting and inexpensive quilting cottons, Lake advises. Hearty cotton or linen works best.
For the shade pictured, which measures 12 inches across the top and bottom and 8 inches high, Lake used a highly textured fabric from her friend, textile designer Susan Sargent of Manchester, Vt.
1/2 yard fabric if cutting across selvedge, or 1-1/2 yards if the pattern runs vertically up the bolt
12-inch washer top
12-inch bottom ring
1/2 yard pressure-sensitive styrene
3 yards 5/8-inch-wide cotton/rayon grosgrain ribbon, for trim
3 yards 1/4-inch-wide or 5/16-inch-wide pressure-sensitive cloth tape (bias-trim backer) for self-trim, if making, or an equal amount of decorative trim
Back seam clamp, optional
Basic lampshade-making supplies: quick glue in squeeze bottle, scissors, ultra-thin permanent marker, wood clothespins, self-healing mat or quilter's cutting board, iron, ironing board, tape measure.
Prepare a hot iron. On a clean work surface, place the styrene paper side up. You will be making a long rectangle on the styrene. To determine the dimensions to mark on the styrene, multiply the diamestet of the shade by 3.14 and add 1 inch. In this case, it is 12 inches by 3.14 + 1 = 39 inches. Using a yardstick laid flush against the left edge of the styrene, mark the styrene with a straight 39-inch long line.
Place the yardstick perpendicular to the line, and mark the styrene 8 inches for the height of the shade. Mark this same measure at several points along the length of the line. Using the yardstick, connect the marks to make a 39-inch line that is parallel to the one below it. Use the yardstick to close both ends of the parallel lines to make a rectangle. Cut out.
With the wrong side facing you, iron the fabric. With the fabric right side up on a clean work surface, determine where you want the pattern or print to fall onto the shade, if using a patterned fabric. When you have determined where you want the design on the fabric to appear on your shade, turn the fabric over so that the wrong side is facing you.
Pull the paper backing off the styrene, and laminate it to the back of the fabric. Press with your hand to adhere. Do not iron, or the styrene will melt. Flip the fabric over, and look at it from the front to make sure your design is where you intended it to be. Hand-press to remove any air bubbles. Cut out.
Run a medium-weight bead of glue along the length of the top edge of the back side of the panel. Set the washer top onto the glue along the length of the top edge, securing it with clothespins as you go. You may have to adjust unruly clothespins.
Flip the shade upside down, and set in the bottom wire. Secure with clothespins.
Glue the back seam together by pulling the panel apart a little bit. Run a couple of beads of glue along the inside seam. Press closed by running your fingers along the seam. (Watch out for messy glue on the fabric.) Hand-press by running your fingers along the seam, or secure it wih the back seam clamp, if you're using one. Set aside to dry, about 20 minutes. When the shade is dry, remove the clothespins, and trim the top and bottom of the shade of any excess styrene.
Whether using pre-made or self-trims, use grosgrain ribbon on the top and bottom of the shade to secure the panels to the wires. Cut 2 lengths of the grosgrain ribbon, each 1 inch longer than the circumference of the top and bottom of the shade. To make a self-trim, place the fabric wrong side up on a work surface. Lay the strips of cloth tape on the fabric. Working with one strip at a time, apply 2 beads of glue down the exposed length of one side of the fabric, and fold onto the cloth tape. Apply pressure with your hands to smooth out any bumps and to create a crisp edge. Repeat on the other side. Make the remaining trim in this fashion. Take care not to leave excess glue on the trim; wipe it away as you work.
To attach the grosgrain to top and bottom: Run a bead of glue several inches along the edge of the shade, and set grosgrain onto glue. Hold in place with a clothespin. Continue around the shade with the grosgrain. Add glue to the grosgrain ribbon to be glued to the inside of the shade. Half of the grosgrain will be on the front surface of the shade, and the other half will wrap and glue to the inside of the shade.
To add the finished self-trim onto the grosgrain: Set glue to the backside of the self-trim, gluing a few inches at a time, and secure with clothespins, but make sure not to leave them on very long, or it may leave an indent. Work your way around the shade, and overlap slightly at the seam. You may choose to use a decorative instead of using a self trim.
Adapted from "The Lampshade Lady's Guide to Lighting Up Your Life" [Potter Craft, a division of Random House]. Reprinted with permission.