Book Review – Make Your Own Lampshades – Elizabeth Cake

Lampshade making doesn’t have to be an off the shelf craft and can be as creative as your imagination will allow, a fact that’s proved over and over again, in Elizabeth Cake’s Make Your Own Lampshade book.


Using her knowledge of collecting vintage fabrics and her passion for upcycling and recycling, Elizabeth has put together 35 projects that stretch your imagination and see what’s possible using everyday objects and second hand finds. Think clashing fabrics, cute crosstitch and even metalwork and you’ll have an idea of the book’s style and concept.


After making a shade for herself, by researching and bringing back to life old patterns and instructions, Elizabeth went on to set up her lampshade business, Midnight Bell, and then to teach lampshade making workshops around the UK.


Realising there was more to it than just making everyday shades, she’s brought her ethos of giving things history and character to her makes, as she transforms interesting materials from charity shops and car boot sales.


So what’s inside the book? Neatly carved into chapters covering the Textiles, Paper, card and wood, Metal and Odds and Ends, the book opens with ‘Lampshade shapes’ and ‘Tools and Materials’, which follows straight into the basic lampshade shapes, including a drum shade, a classic bell lined shade, a Tiffany panelled shade and a classic cone shade. These four projects give a solid introduction to shade making and including pattern making, soft and hard shade making, the latter being very similar to using one of our kits.


The majority of the 35 projects sit in the 'Textiles' chapter and we love the Retro Wicker shade with cross-stitch, which is highly original and could easily be recreated with a modern rattan shade. Each project has a real sense of fun and colour, using techniques such as applique, embroidery, more cross stitch, fabric decoupage and yarn wrapping.


The creative ideas that sit in the 'Paper, card and wood' chapter tackle a number of skills and projects that you might never have thought of! There are some quick and easy makes, such as the Origami fairly lights and the Pleated wallpaper lantern, but the ‘Vintage ruler’ shade captured out imagination, with its unique quirky style.


The skill level definitely ramps up a little for the ‘Metal’ chapter, using all sorts of tins – food, cake and sweet moulds - and require a little skill and a steady hand. Even if you don’t follow any of the projects to the letter, they are a great basis for inspiration to kickstart your own ideas.


‘Odds and ends’ supplies lots more fun ideas, including a few we think would be very makeable with kids, examples of which are the paper drinking straws shade, beaded chandelier and the washi tape shade, which results in a very modern-looking shade that is so simple to do!


Apart from the multitude of ideas this book really delivers on step by step instructions too with hand-illustrated diagrams, which are clear to follow and easy on the eye. Overall it covers shade making techniques and creative craft skills resulting in lampshades that are interesting and fun to make, so if you’re looking for new ideas and inspiration, this is the book!


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