Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lampshade Upgrade

My mother contends that my interest in Japan stems from early airings of Shogun.  She says that when I watched that miniseries, I would speak back to the television in Japanese, wishing Richard Chamberlain a good morning or whatever.  

My early interest in Japan may also have manifested itself after having a Japanese penpal for a few years.  Our county had a sister city in Japan and, for the life of me, I can't remember the name of it.  Anyway, in tenth grade Shigeo Nagai was an exchange student and I ended up befriending him.  We spent the next few years sending letters back and forth.  I don't remember much about those letters except that he loved me and Matthew Modine with the same amount of intensity.  

So when I got to college, I decided to take a semester of Japanese.  A semester turned into four years of language, a study abroad excursion to Kyoto, a degree in Asian studies, and then two years teaching English in Ohasama, a small town in Iwate Prefecture.  As a result, my house is filled with bits and pieces from Japan.  For example, here's my dining room art:

The wooden panel was found in a dirty antique shop toward the end of my two years in Japan.  It was so grimy, but after a thorough cleansing, it has since become a permanent fixture on my walls for the last ten years.  The two paddles next to it are awesome and I've never quite figured them out.  My best guess is that they are some sort of fancy paddle for a shuttlecock game.  Here's a close-up:
During Golden Week of my last year there, I went with a fellow American teacher up to Aomori-ken for some sightseeing.  While there we found this shop that sold all sorts of Japanese crafts.  I picked up two black and white kites minus the kite parts.  After five years, I finally had them framed:

The most recent addition to my Japanese collection of house stuff comes in the form of a lampshade DIY project.  My mom gave me some strips of Japanese cloth a number of years back, but because of their odd shape, I haven't really been able to use them for anything.  They are really long, maybe about six feet, but not very wide, perhaps only 15-20 inches.  So I decided to cover a plain white lampshade with my favorite fabric sample:
And here's the lamp:
We found it at an antique store in Aptos, CA.  My husband hates anything green, but he finally came around to it after two visits to the store.  It's pretty fabulous as is, but I felt the shade needed some color, especially against the white of those curtains.

I read about how to recover lampshades on a bunch of websites a few weeks ago, but couldn't follow the instructions exactly because of the odd shape of the fabric.  I just ended up adhering one end of the strip to the seam of the shade with tacky glue and then inching the fabric around the shade, trying not to let it pucker as I set it with glue.  The seam is a bit sloppy, but it will just be facing the back of the shade, so who cares?

I haven't quite figured out how to straighten the shade.  And here it is all lit up.  It was never the best reading lamp, but now it casts a lovely orange glow.
And here are some close-ups of this fabulous fabric:


  1. It's probably not the shade but the harp or the bracket that the harp sits in. It looks absolutely wonderful So glad you are using some of that fabric.

  2. OK those paddles are fantastic and I love your lampshade makeover. You are right...the lamp is pretty wonderful on it's own but this fabric takes it to a whole new level:)