This week guest author Emma Jeffery from the blog Hello Beautiful visits to show us how she used old love letters to create a personalized fabric lampshade.
My husband and I got together in the days when people still wrote letters to each other, and because we’ve both lived in various different countries (and not necessarily together, at the same time) we both accumulated a healthy stack of correspondence.
On a recent trip back to my parent’s house where I grew up, I rediscovered the large box of letters I’d amassed that he sent me over a 5-year time frame, chronicling my various university addresses, a summer stint as a nanny in France, a year I spent on a remote island in the Indian Ocean….The envelopes had postmarks and stamps from his various travels too — a windsurfing trip to Spain with his friends or snowboarding in the Alps. And because he tended to doodle on the front of the envelopes or use folded magazine ads as an envelope, there was an interesting mix of color and design in my collection.
I photographed various parts of many of the envelopes, concentrating on the addresses, stamps, postmarks and my husband’s handwriting and doodling. I zoomed in on various points of interest and panned out on others, for a more overall impression.
Once I had taken approximately 50 – 60 photos, I edited them in Picasa by cropping the photos to highlight the most striking parts.
I then created a collage of the images. Setting the purple background color helped to make the images stand out from each other. Picasa allows you to easily move and turn each element of the collage to create an image you love. Although my usual design comfort zone is subtle and orderly, I very deliberately decided to go bold, random and large-scale with this collage. It felt good to let my design inhibitions go for this project.
In Microsoft's Paint program I resized the image to fit 1 yard of Spoonflower’s linen-cotton canvas. I wanted to use my fabric print for an oversized lampshade for my side of the bed in our room. I purchased the largest lamp base I could find at the thrift store – which cost me less than $3 plus the cost of a can of spray paint to change the ugly black and red design to white.
I selected a large lamp shade to recover and traced a pattern on large piece of paper. I started by rolling the shade over the paper and marking a line with a pen as I rolled it from one side to the other, marking the top edge and then the bottom edge.
I then joined up the two lines at the sides with a ruler.
I cut my pattern out of the paper and checked it was the right size by placing it over the shade temporarily.
Assured my pattern was the correct size, I was ready to cut my fabric. I added a ¾” seam allowance all the way around the outside of the paper pattern so that I had extra fabric as an overhang.
To adhere the fabric to the lampshade, I began by spraying the shade with a spray adhesive. It’s best to do this outside or in a well ventilated area.
Finally, I secured the lampshade to my new and freshly painted base and placed it in our room.
I'm an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they're not absolutely perfect. And though I'm no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.