ORCA Lampshade: Assessment

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updating our site!

(Note: Two original Mason Monterey
 hanging lamps, right.
Rear lamp is not in need of restoration.  It was recommended that it be placed 
in the museum collection at the
 Oregon Caves NM.)

Our assessment was with three lampshades.  The first was the damaged shade which was in storage and a whole shade, shown right. A third lampshade was provided to us so that we might take a pattern from it, not shown.

The lampshade was made of paper (not parchment, as we suspected), bound by square cut leather cord to iron rings top and bottom.  Common brass plated paper fasteners we’ve all used since grade school were the connectors at the one seam.


Overall dimensions:

  • Overall height of lampshade in its whole form, NIC rings which hang it,  = 11 3/8-inch.
  • Diameter of bottom ring = 22 1/4-inch.
  • Diameter of top ring = 13”, page, 4, bottom
  • Overall height of lampshade paper when disassembled = 11 1/4-inch.
  • Hand-punched holes with four (presumably brass) brads hold the seam edge together, with no evidence of glue on edges of lampshade paper, approx. 1-inch on center.

Original lampshade finish appears to have additional distressing color applied on the outside.  This finish appears to be in the Smokey Maple family, or a lightened asphaltum color, though it is unlikely an oil-based paint but more likely a shellac varnish, commonly used on lampshades.

The original brass brads had a rounded head, which we were unable to find, and so, after purchasing several brands, we went with the flat headed brads. We considered utilizing the original brads, but found that many were compromised and broke during the simple act of removal.  We painted the brads using asphaltum oil paint, as was done by Mason.


The original paper was shellacked, and of course, did not have a century of grease and dust embedded into it. Originally it probably was intended to mimic unadorned tanned parchment. They probably chose paper because at that time it was available in large sizes and inexpensive, and large unblemished pieces of parchment would be difficult to find in 1930 and very expensive. The lampshades are further proof that Mason manufacturing, in their short life making furnishings, were quite inventive. They cut corners, using whatever inexpensive materials were available, and had in their minds to create unique affordable furnishings.

When Mitchell was able to dismantel a lampshade,
he created a fabric pattern which we used to replicate our shades.
You can see all parts clearly, including the top and bottom rings
and the chains which are part of the hanging mechanism.

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