Buy Better: Shady Lady Lampshades

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Debbie Kelly offers a unique way to add some personality to any décor. She creates one-of-a-kind lampshades using vintage fabrics in a variety of designs. Under the brand name Shady Lady, Kelly sells shades in all shapes and sizes featuring patterns ranging from mid-century modern to mod 1960s to rustic designs made from old grain and produce sacks. 

Her most popular design is made from a fabric print of the old Eldridge's map of Martha's Vineyard — the perfect choice for any home with a maritime theme. 

“What makes it really fun and challenging is finding interesting fabrics,” Kelly says; she scours yard sales, antique stores and thrift shops for colorful and unique designs. Some of her favorite fabrics include vintage barkcloth (a nonwoven fabric made from the inner bark of trees) and Marimekko fabric. 

Kelly sells her shades at the Chilmark Flea Market as well as at Coastal Supply Company in Vineyard Haven. She has earned a loyal following at the flea market, where people often bring in their own lamp shades and/or fabrics for customizing and fitting. 

The designer uses techniques that she learned on her own. She starts by molding adhesive styrene into the desired shape and then covers the panels with fabric and finishes with coordinating edging fabric along the seams. The artist notes that the styrene makes the shades heat resistant.

Kelly also sells tablecloths and napkins made from vintage fabrics. Her prices range from $20 for a night light to $80 for a large lampshade. 

The self-taught artist loves the fact that she is bringing new life to discarded material. “It's recycling and turning something old into something new and modern,” she says. 

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