Here's another treasure from that beach house we did in the Hamptons. Last year, while out and about in Sag Harbor, I came across this beautiful, old apothecary jar at Sage Street Antiques. It's handblown glass, probably from the late 1800s, and even though it was completely broken at the top, I really didn't mind. The footing was so elegant and the size very unusual. Plus with a price tag of $24, I couldn't resist! Now in its first life, back in the city, we used it as a vase with big palm ferns in the living room. All along, though, I had a hunch that, in the right hands, this old jar could be transformed into a fantastic new lamp.
Susan makes custom lamps and lampshades using vintage papers, prints, maps, and just about anything else her customers bring her. She even offers matchboxes and tissue box holders on her Etsy store that make perfect hostess gifts, especially around the holidays.
Check out her incredible collection of vintage and new lamp finials, along with just about every kind of trim you could want!
Susan's a true craftsperson, making all of the shades by hand, according to the dimensions of the lamp. She then finishes them off with a coordinating trim for a more polished look. Below, clockwise from top left: marble and parchment paper; nineteenth century topography map; vintage print; and seagrass. Lampshades, especially for a chandelier or small table lamp, don't require a lot of material, so a little goes a long way. It's details like this that add such unique character to a room.
In my experience, as long as you keep your mind open and your eyes peeled, you’ll come across plenty of unique objects that can be transformed into great lamps. Why not make a one-of-a-kind statement with, say, an architectural remnant or a piece of driftwood? Or for something daintier, try a vase, candlesticks, or even a teapot. At Shandell's, Susan uses unusual vintage wallpaper rollers, often painting them to make a pair or coordinate with an interior.
Which brings me back to the apothecary jar. Drilling a hole would not be an option—the glass is simply too old for that—so to avoid seeing the cord through the lamp, we decided to use paint in a beautiful creamy white on the interior. To start, Susan first poured latex paint into the jar, swirling it around carefully for good coverage. After letting it dry completely, she then fitted a custom-made “collar” piece onto the jagged neck to accommodate the wiring and harp.
Finally, for a fresh, more modern look, I decided on a drum shade covered in seagrass. We then added trim in ecru and khaki for the finishing touch. And speaking of drum shades, the drum roll, please…
Don’t you just love the way it turned out? This vignette I styled just off the living room in our friends' beach house, where Jaithan and I like to go for a little R&R. Quality details like the vintage crystal finial and cloth-covered cord are like jewelry for a lamp. Plus they lend historical heft—something you just can’t get from mass production.
A huge thank you to Susan not only for her artistry but for her friendship as well. Moving to the country, then starting a business, hasn't exactly been easy for Jaithan and me, but it's friends like Susan who've helped us every step of the way. She's a dear, dear friend whose talents deserve to be known.