Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Victorian Design: The "art' of Victorian Lampshades

This shade kit is from TLC Lampshdes.
The elaborate victorian lamp, so highly coveted today, didn't start out that way of course. Early lighting was simple and in fact thought of as 'utilitaian". Lights were brought out at night but during the day regulated to a shelf or in nore affluent homes the "lamp room" where lamps were stored during the day and brought out by the staff. Early lighting especially oil lamps required frequent cleaning and this task was best done out of sight.
As advances in lighting took place like gas lights and then electric lighting, lighting became more a fixture.

Early bulbs put out little light but were considered so advanced and forward thinking they were proudly displayed. As lighting became more advanced the glare from those bulbs became more apparent and in typically victorian fashion it was decided the lighting, like everything else in the home should be a thing of beauty and sophistication. Glass shades were created and eventually table lamps which were more 'globe' based were treated to finely detailed silk shades.

This shade is from Victorian lamp shade supply.
Of course few of those shades are still around as they were fragile. Today it is no problem to find old table lamp bases and floor lamps at very reasonable prices. but they dont look right with modern shades in older homes. Fortunately there are a number of manufacturer of new "old" shades but they are very pricey. However if you are handy there are a number of companies now making kits which will allow you to have that great shade for that old lamp base you have sitting around collecting dust. In fact most of the shade kit companies have complete instructions and even videos of how to make shades. Proficiency with a glue gun helps but they are well within the abilities of most people.

One word of caution, you should not use high watt bulbs with fabric shades as they give off excessive heat. In fact withe the advent of CFL's a  fabric shade is a great way to disguise those ugly bulbs and add a little warmth to the light given off.

1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Paul, true artists don't use glue guns. Totally hand sewn is the way to make these beauties. I started making shades over 20 years ago when I began to see ads for the frames in magazines.