Making a Paper Lace Shade

the new dining room at Heart Space

A new space has been opened up at Heart Space Studios, the dining room. Until now lunches have been served in whichever of the 2 studios were not in use; now there is a proper dining room between the two studios, but because it is enclosed it has no natural light source …serious lighting had to be considered but I have not got serious lighting money.

the original large paper lantern
collection of paper doilies

I knew that I wanted a very big light fitting because the room is small – a section of the original office area and if you have a major problem when decorating try to make something very positive happen….. no light in a room?  accentuate the darkness, or in this case, if the light has to be on all the time, make the lighting really special.

Yesterday I found a huge paper pendant in Habitat, the right size but seriously understated for my needs – but at £5 it had be be bought – I will do something with it somehow I thought – after all the price was perfect.

When I got it home I looked around for some lace to stitch onto it – the first thought was to use strips of broderie Anglaise and just wind it round and round between the spiral wires that form the shape…then I thought about circles of lacy fabrics, crochet, lace and tatting I have somewhere in my stash of white work…but then I remembered all the paper doilies I had bought from vintage stalls years ago when I was patterning my stitched enamels. Now where were they? Eventually I found them in the white paper draw in the plan chest – where else would they be?

I fished them out and the rest was easy- peasy, well not exactly easy -peasy, in fact it was really tricky to make this idea work. Fabric could have been eased and coaxed into following the curves of the paper sphere, but my old stamped and fragile paper could not. Luckily the paper sphere was already creased….. I set to work.

pinned paper doily being stitched into place

Don’t ask me why but I never even considered gluing this shade together, which is the obvious way of doing it – I just had to stitch it. But in the long run I think this made it easier but not quicker. Stitching, even into paper, does allow for a bit of ease of movement, whereas using glue is OK only when you are very exact and know what you are doing before you start.

first doily stitched in place with back paper removed

I added one at a time pinning and stitching and cutting the backing paper away to get a lace effect and more light. The first one was easy as it was quite small, the second was big and very awkward. I had to really struggle to get the papers cut away from inside the sphere and this is why I like to sample and design first when starting from scratch with an idea. But for this I just had to figure it out as I made it – I really should make a paper pattern for this as I would like to make some more of these to sell in the shop at the studios.

cutting the original paper shade away from appliqued doily

Cutting the backing papers away was a fiddle as I had to get my hands inside the sphere – but the effect is definitely worth it. I worked all Sunday afternoon and then finished it first thing Monday morning and took it in to be hung at lunch time. I was very pleased with the result; but really I just liked being able to stitch something again – starting a business to teach stitching is not the same thing as stitching for a living and I do miss my old quiet and contemplative working life.

The light behind all the different types and layers of paper looks lovely and the whole room now glows.

the finished shade hangs over the dining table in Heart Space Studios.

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