It is a nod to my husband’s last name, Henn, and my emu hen, Mel. I also chose it because we are all “unconverted” in some way or from someone’s perspective. I’ve lived in many places where my beliefs were not those of the majority, but I have tried to respectfully examine and learn from those differences.
I made my first “lamp” when I was 6. It was a cardboard box reindeer with a red light bulb for a nose and branches for antlers. The light bulb is what got me going. I don’t know why we had a red light bulb – maybe for my brother’s dark room.
Fast forward 40 years and I was once again inspired to start making lamps by something in my closet. This time, it was the cat lace curtains my mom bought for our house in NJ in 1981. I love those curtains, but they don’t work in my current house due to the casement windows. I was the Executive Director of a fair trade store for 8 years and LOVED our handmade lamps, many of which were fabric or paper luminaries. I especially loved our Moroccan henna lamps. Something clicked when I looked at the lace and I started experimenting with lamp designs.
My first attempts at a lace lamp were based on the popular doily globes on Etsy. However, using glue to stiffen the lace just didn’t work for me. I ended up with a floppy mess. After trying a few variations, I decided that the lace really needed a backing to have the desired effect anyway so I began working on lace and facing cylinders. However, I needed a base to give them weight and stability. I tried a bunch or materials, but finally got it right with plaster. I embed a 1″ washer in each hand cast base to hold the light fixture, add glass feet and voila! I can make any size I need.
Once I got a design that worked, I realized that the lamps were the perfect way to showcase my stash of beautiful fabric. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in West Africa and brought home a lot of tailor made clothes that I no longer wear, but still love. I also took my kids to Africa a few years ago and they have outgrown all the clothes they had made. In fact, I have begun searching through all of our old clothes for lamp material. I’ve found enough to keep me busy for a long time to come. In most cases, I only have enough material to make a few lamps in each design.
If anyone out there in would like a matching set of lamps or a custom piece using your beloved old fabric, just give me a shout. I can even make you a lamp from your favorite worn out T-shirt. Giving old fabric the chance to shine again is a great pleasure, and I hope that people enjoy the lamps. More designs are on the way.
UPDATE: EEEGGSS! Yes, finally, we have eggs. However, I have been making jewelry out of the shells instead of lamps. Well, actually, I made one lamp, but it was just too fragile to sell. If I can figure out a way to reinforce the shell before carving to improve my success rate and the durability of the product, I will make some to sell.