Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lamp Shade • Off-Loom Weaving

Today I was daydreaming and staring off only to notice my handmade table lamp perched on the end table in our sunroom. This is a project filled with history. It makes me wonder which of the things I create today will last in my home for thirty years and develop their own history as well.

Time for a little history......

A long time ago in the '70s, David and I were young and starting a family. We had invested in one of our very first art objects. It was a beautifully crafted ceramic lamp with a special shape and texture. We loved it, bought it and I designed a handcrafted lamp shade for it.

The shade is an example of free-form off-loom weaving. David built a shade frame out of wood and I strung the warp of the weaving onto the frame. Using a variety of natural colored yarns, I hand wove an earthen patterned shade onto the frame. It is a weaving technique that was common in the early days of the revival of American Contemporary Crafts. I haven't seen many examples recently.  

In the design I choose to leave some areas open allowing the warp strings to show through, and the light to escape.

In other areas, the weft is woven more closely together creating a patten similar to the stratification of the layers of the earth.

The textures are rich, the colors subtle.

But alias, my then very young daughter (about 2.5 years old) was mimicking mommy and helping with housework. She swung around to sweep, not noticing the other end of the broom, and knocked the ceramic lamp onto the floor. It was in a million pieces and I was disappointed - our first significant piece of artwork, gone! To my delight David handcrafted out of layers of birch plywood another lamp base, similar in shape to the one my shade had been created for.

For the better part of thirty years this lamp has been part of our home. Today, as I sat staring at it, I noticed the warp threads have started to rot away. It is only just holding its form and soon the shade will be history. I was inspired to post about this project today because of the memories. Memories make a house a home!

Think about the home and the memories you are building as you create.

©2012 Ashbee Design, Marji Roy


  1. It's so beautiful! Maybe when your work finally dissolves away, your daughter will be inspired to re-string it and weave it anew.

    1. Bettsi,
      Unfortunately I got rid of my vast collection of odd weaving yarns. They took up so much space and the mice were getting into them. I gave them all away during one of those purge urges. Now I am kicking myself. There used to be eclectic weaving shops around but they are long gone. Not sure were to replenish the supply. Constant battle of what to hoard and what to let go!