Making lampshades that are stunning to look at and completely unique is no mean feat, but Claire Frame of The Creative Recycler has succeeded in taking this one step further, using single-use plastics saved from landfill to create her bold and detailed lampshade designs, making them planet friendly too. Combining her passion for sustainability and her creative background, the idea of making lampshades came about quite by accident, yet today her beautiful lampshades are central to her eco-friendly product range.
Read Claire's story of how she's developed a truly sustainable ethos for her business in our Meet the Maker interview below.
How are you today and what’s on your workbench?
A big creative healthy happy hello back to you, from me, Claire, The Creative Recycler. In the studio at the moment are 11 new bespoke lamp bases and unique upcycled shades in creation. There are also some interesting fabric remnants waiting to be turned into drawstring bags for protecting the shades. Other smaller projects on the go are lampshades made with bottle tops, bags made from airport windsocks and agricultural plastics being experimented with.
How do you start the design process and where do you get your design inspiration?
The inspiration for my unique upcycled plastic shades comes from many sources. The beautiful Staffordshire countryside that surrounds our farmland is a constant source of imagery and concepts bursting from my imagination. The seasons bring a vast variety of ideas for me. My ideas get sketched out and sometimes go from paper to screen to be designed, other times from paper straight to the cutting mat.
How would you describe your style and how does that translate into the lampshades you make?
Vibrant. Eclectic. Fun. Daring. Bohemian. My shades are intricate and detailed yet accompanied by bold nods to nature and a modern take on the Terrazzo style.
What’s the ethos of The Creative Recycler?
With a background in Creative artworking and Graphic Design for over 25 years, accompanied by 5 years of voluntary work in the Precious Plastics Community, this has shaped my interest in wanting to create a range of bespoke high-end lamps that are sustainable and planet-friendly.
When and why did you start making lampshades?
My first up-cycled lampshade was created quite by accident while experimenting with some soft stretchy carrier bags and bubble wrap back in 2020. After rolling it loosely into a drum shape whilst clearing my desk, I looked at it and thought…..hello you! From that moment of (excuse the pun) enlightenment, I was hooked.
What’s your favourite part of the lampshade making process?
Gosh, it’s hard to choose as I love the whole process if I’m totally honest. Just before I apply the fire retardant PVC inner, seeing the design ready to be stuck down, I get a glimpse of what is to come. Right at the end too, after attaching my branding label, seeing the shade finally finished is a definite smile-inducing moment.
How long do your sustainable shades take to make?
Timings vary depending on the intricacy of the design. My Terrazzo shades take 2-3 hours to create (depending how much coffee I’ve had) and the more detailed designs can take 3-6 hours, hence the price tag on these. I also spend time connecting with my local community, Globe Eco Centre, friends and family, plus our own shopping, sourcing a variety of single-use plastics in various colours and designs. Time is spent cleaning and sorting the stock in preparation for each shade to be designed and constructed by hand. The remnants from each lampshade creation go back into the circular economy and get turned into sustainable up-cycled zip bags, book covers and other exciting products. Wastage is kept to an absolute minimum.
In your online shop what’s your most popular selling shade?
The Terrazzo shades in a multitude of colours are very popular, along with the Peacock and Deer shades too.
What’s your most popular selling shade?
I’d say the larger drum shades with Deer, followed by the Terrazzo style shades?
Any tips for new lampshade makers in business?
Get creating wherever your imagination takes you, don’t be afraid to experiment, and if something isn’t working, reach out and ask for help with solutions and alternative methods. Join the groups, chat with customer services at Dannells, they’re all there to help you and many have been in a similar boat starting out.
How do you manage the different aspects of running your business?
My business is still finding its feet in the small independent business world, so I find support from a variety of resources. Staffordshire Chamber of Commerce, National Forest Business Network and other entrepreneurs who I’ve had the delight of connecting with, all help to inspire me. While I just want to spend all my time creating amazing products, I dedicate time aside for collecting materials from the local community, doing accounts, social media, selling, networking and sometimes having coffee with people to simply brainstorm together and work out interesting collaborations.
When are you at your most productive?
Now that would be in the morning for me, especially if it’s a sunny day with the music on.
And your favourite sustenance when you’re working?
A single shot oat cappuccino, a bottle of water and music such as Faithless, Paul Simon, SuperTramp and a sprinkling of French cafe music.
Could you let us take a peek at your workspace?
Where would you like to be in 10 years time?
Sat having a coffee knowing that my bespoke creations are bringing joy and great sustainable conversations to many homes on the planet. Feeling reassured that I’ve saved a huge amount of single-use material from going to landfill. Feeling happy I’ve played a part in being respectful to this awe-inspiring planet.
It would also be fabulous to have grown my business and have a small team of creatives working with me to be able to bring more of my inspirations to life and into the homes of many.
What have you learned that’s been invaluable to your creative process?
One of the most important things I’ve learnt is to have a process and tick list to work to, and to not rush things. Following my own guidelines not only saves time, but can also save money and valuable positive headspace and helps me with the flow of creativity.
Browse Claire's website, The Creative Recycler, to buy her unique and sustainable lampshades and find out more about her planet-friendly ethos. Give Claire a friendly follow on her socials linked below.
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