It all starts with a simple request. In this case a conversation over coffee with a good friend.
"Rach you work with all kinds of old papers... sewing patterns, music sheets and the like... do you think you could make a lamp shade design with architectural drawings?"
Her father was an architect, now retired, but she had access to some of his beautiful hand-drawn house plans and wanted me to make a feature out of them on a lampshade.
It was an exciting thought... "can I even do this? well can I?" and the answer is always inevitably "Yes!" because once the bubbles of inspiration take over, there is no going back.
It took a bit of experimenting. Initially I thought the semi-translucent paper of the original plans would be perfect, imagining the light shining through when the lamp switches on. However the trial examples of the paper would buckle and generally looked awful once they got slathered with my homemade paste. Back to the drawing board.
I started using photocopies and was relieved to find all the charm of the hand-drawings was captured. After that it was a simple case of nutting out which sections would fit around the sides of the lamp. My friend had chosen a rectangle block shade and had indicated her favourite "bits" so as always, it's a jigsaw puzzle to fit it all together.
I drafted up a mock-view of what her house plans would look like, literally wrapped around the shade. But as it turned out, she didn't want it to be so obvious.
"Can you come up with a design that's just a hint of the house plans?"
"You mean a kind of abstract interpretation of the original?"
"Yes, exactly" No problem.
So I began selecting and curating the bits of the plan that I thought worked, zooming in, printing out and arranging the sections until I had enough coverage. You can see a photo here of my not so high-tech "drafting with pegs" stage!
After that the usual decoupage process began and I finished off the design with a layer of unprinted sewing pattern paper that matched the tone of the other shade. Not only would this ensure the two shades would compliment each other, it also helped to inject some warmth into the black & white house-plan design.
You can see the final design below, and they were thrilled to send me back some pics to show off how the diffuser shades look in their house. Love it!
Next up came a really exciting opportunity to work with an architect and their own designs. If I'm completely honest, I have to admit that it was something I'd been hoping for since I started dabbling with this series!
Timothy Ellis approached me to create some shades after seeing a feature on Oh! Hello Geelong. His idea was not only brilliant but perhaps one of the nicest gestures I think an architect could ever make. Timothy commissioned me to create the lamps for his clients as gifts, featuring their own house plans. Is that is not the coolest house-warming present you've ever heard of? Timothy emailed me some PDF's of his final plans and was very easy-going about how they would evolve into lamp designs. I wanted to stay true to the original plans, but took a little license to resize and alter to fit the shade.
The final pieces showcase the elevations and cross sections of his designs and will be a fabulous talking-point for the home owners for many years to come.
I have some more custom orders featuring house plans already booked in for the near future - they are the "ultimate" bespoke item and add a truly unique and sentimental piece for any home.
Feel free to contact me if you would like a similar bespoke piece made for you or as a gift.
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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