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“No mud, no lotus.”
It’s a common saying, loosely based on eastern philosophy, which speaks to the origin of the visually impressive lotus flower. Also referred to as water lilies, these flowers blossom from roots deeply planted in the muck and sediment beneath the water upon which they grow.
As applied to life, the lotus flower is a metaphorical representation of the ability to rise above even the dimmest of outlooks or circumstances. Many see this flower as a symbol of rebirth, revitalisation, or as representational of one's strength to overcome adversity. For that reason, I thought it appropriate to share my own recent lotus recovery.
It began as many of our projects do, an online inquiry from our lampshade repair page. Simply enough, a man called John had filled in all the particulars regarding his need to have a lampshade restored. All perfectly well, until I saw the line about it being a lotus leaf design lampshade.
Now, to be quite honest, I have personally recovered several of these lampshades throughout my career. And to say they are the trickiest and most complicated lampshades I have ever restored would be an understatement. But I grinned and nodded, thinking to myself, “challenge accepted.”
When John's lotus leaf lampshade arrived at our restoration department, I took some time to assess it so I could determine just how fragile this lampshade was, and what the best approach would be for this restoration project. Almost immediately, I encountered my first trial. To begin the recovery process, I had to first remove the shade’s four bottom petals, which were attached to the main body of the lampshade by a lampshade binding tape, then sewn through the binding tape to the main body binding tape joining them together.
Yes, I know that all sounds a bit complicated. That’s because it was.
With the bottom petals finally removed, I began to strip each of them, as well as the lotus's remaining petals down to their bare metal frames, before finally stripping down the main body of the lampshade. Some might consider this an exercise in futility. Not me. For I see this work as a labour of love. There’s a certain catharsis that comes from working with one’s hands to transform and breathe life back into something that others would’ve given up on and discarded.
After cleaning the metal frame with a wire wool, I carefully rewrapped it with a new binding tape in preparation for its new outer cover. John had requested that any efforts restore the lampshade as closely as possible to its original state, and he chose our ivory cream dupion fabric for this reason specifically.
You might’ve thought the hardest part of this lampshade restoration had already passed by this point in the story. But you’d be wrong. In fact, the most intricate phase came as I had to re-cover each and every outer petal in our ivory cream dupion fabric. Some lampshade restorations are akin to a sprint. Easy jobs that pass by quickly. Using that same analogy, this lotus leaf lampshade was a marathon. Tedious and painstaking, requiring an abundance of patience to complete. But the reward for my efforts would be more than worth it.
After the re-covering of all of the petals was complete, I lined each of them on the inside with our inner stretch lining fabric, taking extra care not to mar or damage the delicate outer fabric. The lampshade was finally ready at this stage for the bottom four petals to be re-joined back to the main body of petals, a process executed in reverse order of the disassembly I described earlier.
For the final piece of this floral jigsaw, I bonded our cream decorative braid to the ends of each petal, giving it a flawless finish. To do so, I put my hot melt glue gun to work, and taking my time; I applied glue to each petal while simultaneously applying the decorative braids. A process wherein, a simple slip of the hand could ruin all efforts up to this point and require the process to begin anew; I prayed there would be no itches to scratch or distractions to come.
Now, I realise I've made it all sound like quite a dramatic experience here. And to an extent, it required more of my concentration and effort than any lampshade restoration has in quite some time. But as I completed the lotus leaf's transformation, I felt something I'd not felt since the last genuinely challenging project some time ago – a flourishing of self-satisfaction.
To once again feel the extra sense of pride that comes in completing such an arduous project felt as if I’d gone through a sort of renewal myself. Don’t get me wrong, I take great pride in all my endeavours, but there was something different with this one, something more special about meeting this particular challenge.
It was almost as if through this project I'd had my own renewal experience. Admittedly, there were a few moments when I thought I might not be able to pull this restoration off to John’s expectations. But the saying kept ticking in my mind. “No mud, no lotus.” And so, I pressed on.
I suppose, since I’ve shared my side of the story, it’s at this point where it might be best to let John convey his thoughts regarding my efforts.
I was impressed with your service from the outset and all the way through the process. Your prompt and informative emails made the whole thing as personal as it could have been, short of us physically visiting you. This, together with the examples of the workmanship on your website, gave us the confidence to commit to the substantial expenditure that the complexity of the job incurred. When we received the finished article we were not disappointed, it looks fantastic and the quality of the work is impeccable.
Please see the attached photos for interest. The base is a solid wood carving of an old Chinese fisherman.