Cue the woozy music and the cheesy screen transition that makes you feel like you're traveling back... way back... to the heady days of yesteryear... to...2012.
Ok so maybe this flashback isn't particularly old, but the papers that feature in this shade series are EXTREMELY old. In fact the earliest ones date back to 1927, which is falling just a little shy of a century by my reckoning. But I digress.
Back in late 2012 I started working on this series and from the moment the first bubbles of inspiration stated to percolate, I was really excited about it. Partly because I'm a history-nut but also because I simply adore ye-oldy-worldy-ness.
In this digital age we rely on our keyboards to communicate the written word so much that the actual art of writing seems to be slowly melting away...?
One day my mum showed me some old recipe books from my grandmother and great-grandmother. To sum it up - I was mesmerised.
It was all handwritten, and in that beautiful cursive script that is practically extinct in the 21st Century.
I was so inspired to use them, but it was out of the question to cut up the pages and use the original paper. So I decided to scan in the pages and experiment.
I started big. Why not!?! Deciding that the perfect test case was a 30x40cm drum. I envisioned a large pendant shade which would hang in a kitchen or over a dining table.
The high-res digital scan captured all the character of the original paper.
I refused to photoshop out any of the blemishes, featuring all the crinkles, oily butter stains, and scorched paper marks.
I took the sample shade to the Big Design Market shortly after, and oh-my, what a talking point it was! Passers by were constantly drawn to the shade and I found myself chatting and answering questions about it. Lots of new custom orders came about because it demonstrated the possibilities and people could easily imagine their own examples of hand written history on a shade.
One lady told me all about her discovery of love letters between her grandparents during the Great War era! Some of them she thought may be a little too saucy to be on display but that there would be enough 'tame' material to feature in a lighting piece.
But back to the creation of the Handwriting Series, there is a little more to the story. Being depression era, nothing was put to waste and every scrap of resource was re-used and re-cycled. It wasn't just trendy, it was necessity. As I thumbed through the pages of my family's recipes I started to find... schoolwork? It was originally an exercise book with handwritten lessons.
Newspaper clippings with recipes would be pasted over the old writing, or new recipe notes would be added in the spare blank pages. Thankfully a good amount of the original schoolwork pages survived to give me enough material for a design that can accommodate many different shade shapes and sizes.
This block shade example features history, spelling and even a little algebra (and a few corrections here and there). All in that beautiful cursive script that draws you in.
In a darkened room the light shines through the writing with a gentle treacle coloured glow.
More examples so browse through are here, or feel free to email me if you have an idea for a custom shade. No doubt we all have precious pages of history that could be dusted off and brought out of the captivity of darkened cupboards. It's time to light them up!
Author - Rachel Burke
"Creating decoupaged light shades started a little by accident a few years ago and has grown from there. Join me on this journey of random vintage discoveries, inspiration, and up-cycling with passion..."
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