quincylampshades

What they did next…

Posted on: 04/02/2012

People often ask me how I feel when I teach lampshade-making to individuals who then go on to make and sell their own lampshades. They ask me if I’m giving away my secrets and how I feel about the competition. Thing is: I don’t mind. We all know very little about a lot, and a lot about something. My something is lampshades and I want to share my skills and knowledge. Not everyone who attends a lampshade-making course at The Makery or has one-to-one tuition with me intends to set up business, but some do. I feel pleased and proud to help them on their way.

My first ever student was Maya Wilson, who runs her own interior decoration and fabric design company – Source. With me, she made a beautiful lampshade featuring her bird design fabric. Maya has gone on to produce her own select range of lampshades.

Maya Wilson - Source

Next was Gillian Goodman who wanted to offer her clients at Tala Valley Upholstery a bespoke lampshade-making service. Here is her first ever made-to-order shade. It’s rather lovely.

Gillian Goodman - Tala Valley

Most recently, Naomi Mcindoe, passionate and skilled in the art of papercutting, wanted to bring her papercuts to life as lampshades. So she came to me to learn some basic skills and do some experimenting. We were both chuffed to bits with the results. Naomi is in the very early stages of setting up business and I’m sure that with work like this she’s going to do well.

Mrs Mcindoe

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4 Responses to "What they did next…"

Hi Ruth,

I’ve been pondering this and saw your tweets about whether it’s right or wrong to be encouraging competition. Interesting one! I wondered at the time about the lessons to teach people – each person you teach probably won’t then buy a lampshade from you. As a business venture though there are lots of people and it’s another source of income. When these people then set up businesses though, and presumably are local, it does become direct competition. It is fair to say though that if that is what they want to do, then they will do it and it may as well be you teaching them as someone else. Definitely can see the pluses and minuses here.

I know in my business I’ve always focused on advising and teaching people to be able to be self-sufficient rather than go for a “do it for you” approach. It also means that people can go out eventually and offer a similar service to me so should this worry me? Personally I think that with a service it’s about the individual and each person’s experience and skills is different so it’s better to focus on your own strengths rather than worry about competition.

I think with a product it’s different though and therefore the step for you is to make sure that you are always one step ahead of the game and keep training and furthering your knowledge yourself. Keep your competitors on their toes! 🙂

What do you think?

Hi Paula,

Yes indeed! I plan to become ever more knowledgable about all things lampshades and I’ll be attending a very exciting and detailed course in traditional lampshade-making skills very soon. With regard to product competition: there are just so many people out there, each with different tastes, who aren’t being satisfied by the high streets stores. I think there is plenty of room for small lampshade-making businesses like myself who can offer that unique piece of lighting that the customer truly loves and not just something that is ‘close enough’. Illustrators and pattern-surface designers are looking for ways to utilise their designs – lampshades are an excellent carrier. This is also an exciting avenue for me. So, I’m happy to share. I may be too nice, but I just can’t be horrible.

Hi, I read your post and i think you are a very generous artist!
I totally agree with you and i think people can earn much more by sharing! It’s not only about money…
I wish there is something I can teach… But before that I need to find a great teacher like you to learn from!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience!

Hi ruth, I just read what you wrote about sharing your knowledge and I so much agree with you. I deeply think that if one is gifted with a knowledge, an understanding, a capacity to create, it was meant to be shared with others to enrich the whole. We were taught to fear competition, and because of that we are afraid to share and limit ourselves. By sharing we communicate, exchange, enrich the other and ourselves. Creativity has no limit, it’s an endless open way that should stay open to aloud everyone to grow according to his personality and style.
I admire your passion of lampshades and your thirst to know more and share.
thank-you for the opportunity to meet you through the net.
stephanie

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