Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Lampshade Dilemma

To paraphrase a professor I once had: it seems there are more lampshades in this world than there are lamps to go with them.

Actually, he was comparing the ratio of horses' back ends to the number of horses in the world, but I believe the comparison still works (this may help to explain why I never did actually graduate...).

Getting back to the lampshades, I do see quite a lot of them, out on their own or in groups, at auctions and thrift stores, with not a lamp in sight. Rarely do I see poor, hatless lamps.

This excess of lampshades was puzzling to me until I remembered that the decorating magazines frequently advise buying new lampshades to freshen up a tired lamp and, by extension, a room.

This never seems to work in the reverse. I mean, a sad, tired lampshade cannot be made any less sad by being put on a fresh, happy base. It will just sit there, looking ever more out of date.

That being the case, the only option is to give them a new role entirely. I like to take them home and make them into bowls/baskets/vessels, depending on their size and shape.

I've always loved papier mache and lampshades provide an ideal base. They're sturdy to begin with and have a shape of their own, which means that most of the hard work is already done.

I usually have to take the snips to the bit that holds the shade to the lamp base. I'll cut a couple of layers of cardboard for the base of the new basket (usually what was the top of the shade), and I'm back in grade school, glueing and layering away.

The finished product, I think, looks much more sophisticated than the electric-blue light bulb maracas I made in Sister Virginia's third-grade art class. And will last a lot longer, too!

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