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CRAFT PROFILE: Shining a light on lampshades
As the nights draw in and glittery things start to appear in the shops (I can’t bring myself to say the “C” word yet), it’s time to enjoy the cosy combo of corner lighting and central heating. This week, in between period dramas and during weepy bits of Strictly and X-Factor, I’ve found myself gazing mothlike at my living room lamp and thinking increasingly about how different our interiors would look without lampshades. Not the most profound thoughts I’ve ever had perhaps, but still, it led me to think more about how craft and lighting might work together – and as usual, I found there are many inspiring UK designer makers working in this field.
The lampshade is thought to have begun it’s brightly lit journey around the 1600s. In the 17th century, oil lamps lit the streets of Paris and used lampshades to reflect and disperse the light down and out towards the street. Later on, brighter gas lights used glass or fabric shades as a way to diffuse light as well as direct it. This need for softening lamp light became even more necessary once electric light was introduced. But although shades have a functional purpose they became increasingly more decorative – at times blurring the lines between object and art.
Today there are a million and one different ways to apply your chosen craft to lighting – in fact, lamp maker, Radiance shop owner and craft lighting guru Hannah Nunn has written a book on this very subject – “Illuminate” captures over forty "light-bulb moments" from designer makers who have turned a spotlight onto their craft through the medium of light.
Originally a paper cut artist, Hannah was switched on to the possibilities of lighting “whilst holding my paper cuts up to the light to enjoy the silhouettes. The idea of making lamps seemed the next exciting step.” After successfully launching her collection of paper cut lamps featuring delicate botanical motifs, Hannah found herself “enthralled and inspired” by the work of other light artists. In 2005, her dream of bringing their work together into “one glowing space” was realized in her Hebden Bridge shop and studio. Radiance is now a thriving shop and online business, receiving rave press reviews and frequently appearing in interiors zines.
Small daisy table lamp by Hannah Nunn
Tall Cow Parsley table lamp by Hannah Nunn
Dandelion clock candle cover by Hannah Nunn
Deryn Relph’s work is a great example of how light can be combined with a seemingly disparate craft to great effect: "Making lampshades allows me to explore the way knitted textiles work over different 3 dimensional forms. I also love the way the fabric interacts with the light. It's great to be able to have such fun with colour, scale and structure too! My work is all about using the power of colour to evoke a positive emotional response. I see this as being a useful solution to sustainable design. My work tends to have a retro vibe to it. This reflects my 1970's childhood. Nostalgia, along with scientific imagery and natural structures, are often where I take inspiration from."
Oval Bobble Lampshade by Deryn Relph
Lightshade from Uplifted Lampshades Collection by Deryn Relph
Ramona Lightshade by Deryn Relph
The lampshades of Marie Rodgers and Maria Livings (aka Lush Designs) are perhaps more familiar in shape, but are a perfect demonstration of the lamp as canvas. "The cylindrical, illuminated form of a lampshade is a perfect perpetual panorama on which a story can be told. Inspired by the things that amuse us in everyday life, we can create a world which exists on the edge of reality, tipping into fantasy. The familiar can be made mysterious, a dreamscape evoked. The process is simple (working at first in ink, then compositing the elements and making the print with just two colours of screen-printed ink) but our images are complex and detailed, reflecting our love of pattern combined with narrative ideas."
Fox and Cubs Lampshade by Lush Designs
London Lampshade Blackcurrant by Lush Designs
Blue Horse Lampshade detail by Lush Designs
There are hundreds of online tutorials for making lamps and for a simple fabric covered lampshade all you need to get started is the fabric of your choice and a basic lampshade making kit – readily available at craft shops and specialist websites. But I, for one, have been switched on to a whole new world of lighting possibilities.
Deryn Relph: http://derynrelph.co.uk/
Lush Designs: http://www.lushlampshades.co.uk