Cheery O's as fine art lamp shades.

Art shades for Lamps — The Serial contines

Submitted 5 months ago
Created by
Dave Celone

I realize now, more than ever, I’m in the presence of a great artist. I’ve been a gallerist for years, but after a day of working with, and learning from, Ken Blaisdell of Lampscapes in White River Junction, art presents itself to me in a whole new light.

Ken's Art Shade Creations (not mine). I call them Cheery O's.

My first Wednesday as Ken’s understudy to learn how to make a fine-art shade is a success. My first shade was spot on. The colors all worked, blending effortlessly to absorb and relate light to the Lampscapes studio space on a gray day. It was brilliant, and uplifting.

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 My second shade came out terribly. It was because I felt rushed to get to a luncheon meeting with a client. So, I’m batting 500 in the weekly Wednesday fine-art shade-making effort I’ve undertaken. I had one visitor who watched for about an hour, and we had a great conversation. I hope more people visit next week to watch and chat.

Folded, origami-esque and ready for sewing.

Sewing by hand with raffia. Needle and thread.

Here’s what I learned from Ken: 1. to trace a form and cut a shade out of heavy-gauge paper that’s coated on one side – on the inside of the art shade to ensure reflected light is at its best in the downward throw of the bright; 2. to crease and fold the paper against the bias so the coated side would remain on the inside of the shade; 3. to sew the shade to its circular top and bottom rings with raffia, a palm tree derivative that works well (and esthetically well, too) as a thick and heavy thread; 4. to mix paint (acrylics and oils) with thinners and other paints to create the right color palette for the shade; 5. to paint each crease-created shape close to, but not on, the creases; 5. to coat the shade with a dark-blue oil paint and mineral oil mixture used as a resist process to highlight the creases, and frame out but not diminish the colors.

Colors all mixed. Then painting inside the folds begins.

Ken applies dark blue resist paint/mineral oil mixture. Then we wipe it clean.

That was it. The result? A beautifully abstract shade that lets light through in an array of colors that Ken thinks will sell quickly. I’m thrilled. And I learned art cannot be hurried. It will come, or it won’t, but time is the essence of the process. My second shade just didn’t cut it. The colors were off, and I painted too close to the creases, and inconsistently at that. Ken asked me to take the second shade home with me. The colors were so bad he/we couldn’t bear to have it in the gallery. I agreed.

My first abstract origami fine art shade in its fully-illuminated final form.

Some images of Ken’s shades, for your enjoyment, appear below. He’s the real artist here. But he’s also a wonderful teacher. At no point did he make me feel as if wasn’t totally capable of producing a fine-art shade. His encouragement put me at my ease in the very comfortable space he’s created as gallery and studio. With that kind of instruction, the sky’s the limit.

Until next Wednesday, I remain your humble fine-art shade student chasing after new colors and exotic designs every day.


Dave Celone is a writer, poet, and student art shade maker for lamps and other illuminating things. He lives alternately in NH and VT. Check back often to see how he’s progressing with his summer-long weekly fine-art shade-making classes with Ken Blaisdell of Lampscapes in White River Junction, VT. Click Here to follow Dave each time he posts, or visit this link to sign up to follow him on the and get his posts for free:

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