Thursday Showcase No. 9. Gilhoolie Lampshades

Hello, and welcome to Thursday. Thanks for joining me for another interesting person! I discovered the Gilhoolie website very early on in my adventures with lampshades, and so I am very pleased that she has agreed to feature on my showcase today.

And here we go with the questions….

1. Whats yer name and where d’ya come from?!
My name’s Julie Gardner and I own a business called ‘gilhoolie bespoke lampshades’ – the name speaks for itself really! I chose the name gilhoolie from a nickname at university a long time ago – it just rhymes with Julie and I wanted something a bit quirky and original.

2. How long have you been doing what you do, and how did you get into it?
I had to count the months on my fingers for this one! I’ve been making lampshades for 18 months now. I stumbled across a designer and lampshade maker called Helen Rawlinson on the Internet one day ( There was a photo of her standing in her workshop, surrounded by colourful drum lampshades and I immediately thought that was what I wanted to do one day.

I started with drum lampshades and then moved onto hand-stitched empire lampshades which I absolutely love. A lot of work goes into them so I find the end product beautiful and incredibly rewarding.

I also teach how to make drum lampshades at my house in Maidenhead and for a lovely shop in Caversham, Reading, called Make & Do. (

3. What is the hardest part of your work?
The pins! J I use hundreds when I’m pinning fabric to a frame and it takes practice to not get sore fingers plus I’m always worried about dropping them on the floor and someone treading on one! I also find it hard to find fabric that I like, I wish I lived near a big fabric shop, but then that would probably be fatal for my bank account!

4. And what is the most rewarding?
Teaching is really rewarding for me and it’s great to be with other people rather than on my own all the time. It’s really good to be able to teach others and see their excitement as they see their lampshade take shape!

Also, believe it or not, just finishing a hand-stitched lampshade is really rewarding for me – I always stand back and admire them and say to myself “I did that!”

5. What do you class yourself as – artist, designer/maker, crafter, creative?
Designer/maker I guess. I like drawing too – I take orders for ink portraits of people’s houses and wedding venues for wedding gifts and I love sitting down and drawing when I get the time. I also like drawing pictures using machine embroidery – it’s a great way to incorporate pattern and drawing and gets easier the more you do and the more you relax at the sewing machine!

6. Who from the creative world do you admire?
I originally dreamt of designing my own fabric to make things from and still really admire the work of a lady called Lotta Jansdotter ( Her designs are very simple and fresh and I love her drawing style too. I have made lined drum lampshades from one of her designs, which hang in my hallway.

7. Where does your inspiration come from?

As I live near London, there’s nothing like a trip to some fabric shops and Liberty; I’ve just decided I need to make time to do that more! I‘m also a bit obsessed with simple, geometric and retro patterns on anything, plus I love looking at old houses and browsing in boutique shops and antique shops. I recently bought a 1960’s J & G Meakin platter for 50p from a local antique shop, because I liked the retro blue flower pattern.

8. Do you listen to music/watch TV whilst you are working, and if so, what?
I listen to six music a lot when I’m making lampshades (if I’m not sitting in the garden when it’s nice weather!) I really like Lauren Laverne’s show in the morning – it’s good to have a mixture of new music and friendly banter while I’m working. If I’m writing a blog post I can’t listen to anything though, I’ve always found it hard to concentrate with lots going on!

9. Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Well, I’d like to be doing more of what I do now really. I’d like to be making more lampshades for clients and to have several Interior Designers that I get work through. It would be good to teach more too, oh and to have my own studio space in the garden where I can go and be creative whenever I like!

10. What sacrifices have you made for your art?!
I’m not sure I’ve made any really. I’m lucky that my children are both at school (and a very supportive husband!) so I have time to work on gilhoolie during school hours, except in the school holidays when I find it really hard to do both!

There we are, another interesting person for you! One of these days I may have to beg her to teach me how to make amazing hand stiched empire lampshades, althought I think it may take a while as she is so dedicated, neat, and hard working!

Please do go and check out her work further in the following places….
Gilhoolie Website

Gilhoolie Twitter

Gilhoolie Facebook

Thats all for now, see you again next week for another interesting person!

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