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Meet The Maker - Mountain and Molehill

Taking the simplicity and beauty of old illustrations and etchings and bringing them to life with her eye for detail and carefully considered pops of gold and colour, Elizabeth of Mountain and Molehill has created lampshades that are both quirky and elegant.


Building her business from the ground upwards to fit around her family life, with each design Mountain and Molehill goes has gone from strength to strength, and in today’s Meet the Maker, we chat to Elizabeth about her story, her sources of inspiration for her beautiful lampshades and prints and her tips for budding lampshade making businesses. Read on to find out more.



Hi there!

 

How are you today and what’s on your workbench?

Hello! I am doing well. Slowly getting through the to do list I made at the start of year. While it isn’t a long list it has lot within it. Writing ‘website overhaul’ is easy but is a massive amount of work! I am tackling it while also treating myself to working on new designs.

 

How do you start the design process and where do you get your design inspiration?

The process starts by looking through my collection of antique books and taking quick photos on my phone so I can throw a rough idea together. Very low-quality work but it stops me spending hours working up something properly and never using it.

 

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. I am currently working on a fantastic idea which someone suggested at a Christmas market. Days out with the family often lead me to ask them if something might work as a shade. Both my children have given me ideas which have gone onto become bestsellers.

 

How would you describe your style?

Stylishly quirky. I like to think that I take the old illustrations and create something totally fresh and stylish which will fit into any interior.



 

Tell us how you’ve learnt your design skills. 

Bit by bit as I have gone along. Every now and again I discover a new way doing something and my mind is blown by how much easier it is.

 

It’s clear that you have a love of gold, for both lampshade lampshades and to pick out your design’s details. What do you feel gold adds to your lampshades?   

I like the monochrome of the original etchings and enjoy playing with the textures that offers. The gold is an essential part of the design though as it adds a touch of colour which lifts the design, provides a focus point and stops it becoming dull. (Recently I have been delving into touches of colour as well and am enjoying the freedom of offering more than one colourway for my designs.)

 



When and why did you start making lampshades?

I was making long prints and a friend I gave one to sent me a photo of it wrapped around a shade saying ‘You need to do this’.

 

What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?

The moment I finish rolling it and turn it the right way up. Even though there is still plenty to do the transition from flat object to a shade is always pleasing. Particularly when it is first order of a new design.

 

In your online shop what’s your most popular selling shade?

It varies but the Foxes, Whales and Dodos are consistently best sellers and compete for the top place.



 

We noticed that you sell your beautiful lampshade on Holly and Co. How did this come about?

I was asked when they were scouting for founder members. I had to keep the secret for nearly a year which was very hard for me.


Any tips for new lampshade makers in business?

I would apply these tips to new makers in any discipline:


-Make to order if you can. It is very hard to know what people are going to buy so having loads of a design which doesn’t sell can be demoralising and expensive. It also means that creatively you are free to try things out as there is very little financial investment.


-Invest in good photography AND a good photoshop artist. I paid almost as much to have my photos made into smart objects so I can drop my new designs into the photos which means I have a clean and consistent look on my website.



How long has Mountain and Molehill being in business?

Ten years. I started when pregnant and have built it up very, very slowly. As my kids get bigger I am able to add a bit more each year.

 

How do you organise and prioritise your time to meet the demands of your business and homelife?

I have the time when the kids are at school to work. I usually only do markets at Christmas because the family time it takes up must be financially worth it. Coming home after a disaster and feeling that I have wasted that time together is horrid.

 

When are you at your most productive?

Christmas. I turn into a mini factory! I don’t get much admin done though so it does depend on what you mean by productive.

 

And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?

Tea (only ever drink half the cup) and history podcasts get me through long shade making days.



Where would you like to be in 10 years time?

Given the past 10 years with babies, covid and with a house move in the offing I honestly don’t know. I will certainly have kids starting to fly the nest which seems bonkers when I look at them now.


What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?

Don’t worry too much about designing commercial work. It is good to have an eye on trends but it is an ever-changing thing and impossible to really predict. My Blue Whales rarely sold for the first two years then became a best seller! It is far easier to be aware of what is trending and apply your work where it fits.



Any new products or plans for Mountain and Molehill you’d like to share?

I am currently working on a design with pheasants and have a huge family move from London to York to plan.



 



Browse Elizabeths's fantastical and elegant range of lampshades on her website Mountain and Molehill and keep up to date with her new designs, by giving her a friendly follow on her socials linked below.






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