Monday, April 15, 2013

History of Lampshades

Have you ever watch someone pick out a lamp and a shade?  They hold it, turn it in all directions, place different shade on different lamp bases.  They turn the lamp on and off.  They stand or sit close to it and far away.  They bring pillows and throws when picking out a shade because the match needs to be just right for the room that the lamp will go in.

It wasn’t always like this, however.  Homes in the 1800’s were lite by kerosene lamps. The shade and base where made of glass.  These lamps were design for practical use only.

In 1879 the first commercial incandescent light bulb was created.  That changed everything in the world.  We no longer lived and worked by the sunlight.  Life expanded into the evening hours.  As electricity slowly moved into homes across the country the need for lampshade increased.  Their main purpose was to help diffuse the harsh light that emanated from the early light bulbs.

Early lampshades were made of paper.  It wasn’t until the Victorian era, which began during the reign of Queen Victoria from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901, that shades became more elaborate and the craft of designing shades became an art.  Victorian shades are mainly made of material, beads, trim and fringe.  They were created to give the room elegance and romance.

The first Tiffany lamp was created around 1895 by Louis Tiffany in New York.  The bright colored glass cemented the design to create an atmosphere in a home that was inviting.

Like fashion, interior design reflects the decorating trends and social class.  We all want our homes to look nice and be a reflection of who we are.  With the invention of the light bulb a shift was made in how people decorated their home.  We went from practical to expressive.  Stop and think about it.  Don’t you sit in the room that makes you feel the most comfortable?   It is filled with many of your favorite things.  There is your favorite pieces of furniture, wall hangings, decorative objects and the perfect lamp to see it all by.

It is how I began refurbishing lampshades.  I wanted the perfect shade.  Since I couldn’t find it, I made it.  Now I make them for others who need just the right one.

Happy lighting!   

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