Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Vintage Barkcloth lampshades

Yea well it only took me 5 years to feel brave enough to cut up some of my treasured vintage barkcloth. Don't know what it is about the stuff but I do love it so.

At the risk of "teaching granny to suck eggs" barkcloth , also known as Dobby, is made of 100% cotton, it has a very rich look and feel and is extremely durable, and long lasting. To be honest I think that unless someone puts some actual barkcloth in your hands and says, "this is barkcloth" then it's next to impossible to really understand what it is... However technically barkcloth is a Momie Weave  used primarily in furnishings. The interlacing pattern usually uses spun yarns and creates a fabric with a rough texture somewhat like that of tree bark, hence the fabric's name.

So the legend goes after WWII American GI's stationed in Hawaii saw these brightly colored barkcloth curtains and other home furnishings (as well as some shirts) and brought or sent them home. In the years following  the late 1940's through the 1960's, bark cloth became a staple fabric in the home interior textiles market. The most collectable of these barkcloths are the atomic "Eames era" prints popular in the 1950's and early 1960's.

I fell in love with my first piece of barkcloth after pulling and old curtain out of a black bin bag at the local Scout Jumble sale. Totally unexplicable why... its was faded, it was almost a paisly pattern and worst of all it was mauve.....but there the love affair began.

It has finally dawned on me that I cannot curate a barkcloth museum from the linen cupboard in our spare room so now its open season on my precious bolts and scraps as they one by one reform themselves into......lampshades. Why lampshades? Well a great lampshade is always hard to find. You can never have enough lamps in a room. I'm lucky enough to have access to the professional materials needed to make them well. And most importantly they show the wonderousness of the fabric off to perfection.

I'm not so good at photographing them yet. Just look at all those shadows.....and it took me hours! Any tips greatfully received.

All from Emma Lamb's shop on Etsy

Whilst on the subjected I'm so greatful to Emma Lamb for posting about my shades. I've been a fan of her crochet for a while now as her designs and colours are always so contemporary and just a bit more edgy than most. Emma also manages my two favourite Flickr group "granny chic" and "all colours in" as well as producing the best etsy collages  or roundups on her blog. You have an extraordinary eye Emma. Cheers.


  1. just love your lampshades...i have a hard time cutting up my old cloth too but these are worthy. glad to have discovered your blog.

  2. As you have noticed I am a bit of a barkcloth fan too! I absolutely love your lampshades, they show the fabric off a treat.
    I think we should use those vintage fabrics, they were always meant to be seen, not stored away in a drawer. I like to reuse them to make pretty and useful items.
    I also love vintage feedsack fabrics from the 30's and 40's and am currently making some tiny tailored lampshades trimmed with ric rac for a 3 arm ceiling fitted light.
    I'm trying to follow you too, but it isn't working at the moment.

  3. Oh my goodness, your lampshades are stunning!! I wish I could help you with the shadows in your pics, but I'm afraid I have the very same problem! However, I think your pics are lovely. :-)


  4. Your shades are so gorgeous. I linked to you today.

    ~ Jennifer


  5. I am sooooo new to all of this - I have begun to make a collection of lampshades using delicious fabrics AND started to blog about it. I feel in awe of what you are doing - it's truly great. The shades are original and desirable and your blog is interesting and informative. I need to keep up my confidence, as I'm feeling second-rate! I have managed to source 30cm and 45cm ringsets, but I'm struggling to find sizes in between - can you/would you help? My photos need to improve too. Any advice, whatsoever, gratefully received! quincylampshades.wordpress.com



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