When Miranda Law’s marriage ended she had no idea how she was going to juggle a busy freelance career as a scenic artist in London with her new life as a single working mum in a Sussex village.
How could she be around for her children when they needed her, while earning enough money to feed them all? The answer lay in balancing the occasional scenic painting contract with a new-found talent for lampshade design.
Miranda taught herself how to make lampshades
Miranda Law’s foray into lampshade design actually began several years ago when she came across some beautiful Japanese paper.
At the time she was looking for a lampshade for her home, but couldn’t find anything that inspired her – she despaired of the plain and bland lampshades that seemed to fill every home department store. She wanted something bold and striking.
So she started watching online videos on how to construct lampshades, ordered the materials she needed and taught herself how to make her own.
Extremely proud of her new creations, she toyed with the dream of setting herself up as a lampshade designer, but was too busy juggling a hectic life as a scenic artist for clients including the Royal Albert Hall, English National Opera and ESPN, with being a mum to her two young children, Sadie and George.
Working became unrealistic after her marriage ended
But then Miranda’s life changed dramatically. Her marriage ended and she moved with her children to a pretty Victorian home in a village by the sea. Close to her supportive parents, her new home was a lovely place for her children to grow up, but now too far from a train station to make regular commuting to work in London realistic.
So while Miranda still worked on selected scenic artist projects in London, and took on the occasional private commission for paint effects and murals in the homes of private clients, she needed to find a new strand to her career that enabled her to work from home, around the children’s school days.
The thought occurred to her that she may finally be able to turn her experiments into lampshade design into paid work – and so Swee Mei lampshades was born.
Miranda’s shades are beautifully designed and made
The first few weeks of Miranda’s new career passed in a flurry of lampshade design and industry. She experimented with different materials, expanding out into fabrics and wallpapers – all unusual, beautiful prints that Miranda hunted down with her keen eye for design.
Today, she has extended her collection to include a number of different prints and sizes, all beautifully conceived and crafted.
It’s early days but Miranda loves her new cottage industry. While her children are at school she sources new prints, manages her online shop and makes lampshades to order for clients. At the weekends she exhibits and sells at local craft and creative fairs – boosting her sales and spreading the word about her work.
Miranda’s lampshade design business fulfils her creative needs, and she loves the idea of turning something flat into a useful, 3-dimensional object – giving beautiful things a new lease of life and putting them on display to be admired.
She has also enjoyed the learning curve of perfecting a new practical skill, as well as acquiring new, self-taught technical talents such as Photoshop. But most importantly she is revelling in being fully self-sufficient – of finding a way to do something she loves, which earns her an income, while being there for her children when they need her.