Sue Johnson’s Lamps and Shades — Works of Art From a Little Shop in Berkeley

Hand-blown lamp by Lindsay Art Glass at Sue Johnson store. Photo by BF Newhall

Hand-blown lamp by Lindsay Art Glass; shade by Sue Johnson. Photos by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

On Solano Avenue in the far north reaches of Berkeley, California, a modest storefront softly glows, luring me in every time I try to pass it by. It’s Sue Johnson’s custom lamp and shade store.

Sue Johnson in her custom lamp store, berkeley, ca. Photo by BF Newhall

Sue Johnson in her custom lamp store on Solano Avenue, Berkeley, California.

For forty years  now Sue Johnson and her — mostly female — colleagues have been building lamps and creating lampshades whose ingenuity is matched only by their jaw-dropping beauty.

Monarch butterflies, frogs and lily pads,Victorian extravagances, sensual, curving shapes, architectural lines — no theme lies outside the interests and skills of  Sue and her co-workers. It seems they can turn most anything into a lamp — a china vase, a piece of sculpture, a hand-carved coatimundi — and team it up with a hand-made lampshade of parchment or mica.

You can shop online or simply stop in and buy a lamp or shade right off the store’s shelves — or ceilings. Typical prices are $1,695 for a mica ceiling shade by Sue Johnson with a glass cap by

Hundreds of hand-crafted lampshades lend a soft glow to the Sue Johnson store. Photo by BF Newhall

Hundreds of hand-crafted lampshades lend a soft glow to the Berkeley store.

Lindsay Art Glass, and  $277.50 for a mica lamp shade with African animals by Lynn Duncan. Chances are, if you go the store, the offerings will be quite different on the day you visit.

Bargain hunters might want to take in Sue Johnson’s annual fall sale, which extends through Sunday (November 11, 2012).

Sue Johnson ceiling shade with glass cap by Lindsay Art Glass. Photo by BF Newhall

Sue Johnson ceiling shade with glass cap by Lindsay Art Glass.

The store is open seven days a week, and Sue and her colleagues can often be found at work in the back shop wiring and repairing lamps. The rest of the crew is likely to be at home, making lampshades in their personal studios, one eye on the kids.

I took pictures of Sue and her colleague, Lynn Duncan, when I was there the other day, and I thought, wow, they sure look good for a couple of women who have been working in a wood and metal shop for the past forty years.

But, of course, who wouldn’t look terrific in the glow of a couple hundred face-friendly lampshades?

Sue Johnson, custom lamps & shades, 1745 Solano Avenue, Berkeley, CA  94707.  510-527-2623. www.Sue JohnsonLamps.com.

Check out my post on Squeak Carnwath, a California painter you might enjoy. For my thoughts on some Berkeley, California, ceramic artists, go to  “Ceramics Envy,”

 

"Pond Scene" ceiling shade by Lynn Duncan. Photo by BF Newhall

Lynn Duncan ceiling shade “Pond Scene”

Parchment lampshade with Japanese tsuri border at Sue Johnson store. Photo by BF Newhall

Parchment shade with Japanese tsuri border

Mica shade with an elephant and other African animals by Lynn Duncan. Photo by BF Newhall.

Mica shade with African animals by Lynn Duncan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Comments

  1. Truly Awesome.

  2. linda stern says:

    i have 2 Sue Johnson lamps very beautiful but they just don’t fit in my house any more
    would sell if you would like pictures would be happy to send them…
    they are her mica lamp shade!! two tone really nice!
    thanks
    linda

  3. I’m looking for old mica table lamps, plug-in, with chain, cylindrical shaped with wood top and bottom. I saw them on your Facebook page; since then I can’t find them again. Jane

  4. Wow, they looked gorgeous. How many items with the same design?

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      I’m not sure. I think some of the items are one-of-a-kind; others can be ordered. I suggest dropping by the store, or going to their website if you don’t live nearby. And, of course, there’s always the … telephone.

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you enjoyed this post, you might also like “The Ghost of 300 Million Drought-Killed Trees Hovers Over a Lake in Texas” and “Sue Johnson’s Lamps and Shades — Works of Art in Berkeley.” […]

Leave a Comment

*