Saturday, November 8, 2014


By now many of you know I am leaving Hong Kong after more than 7 years.  Actually more than 15 years - since I've come and gone twice. 

So I will give you a few tips and pointers as I depart. 

These are some of my trade secrets and I'm only disclosing them because I'm leaving!  Lucky, lucky you - this took me a long time to work out and I think I'm one of the few (if any) doing it in a city this large!

Before I get started - I have to let you know.
POTTERY BARN ships to Hong Kong.  One of my clients shipped the bases and will make the shades locally.  She swears it was economical. And if you can get the base while on sale........


Lamps are very difficult to find in Hong Kong.  I was told - whether this is correct or not - one reason is that the government requires a permit/ tax on every item.... not style.. which makes the lamp expensive.  

I adore the glow from a lamp versus the overhead glare from a ceiling bulb.  But I couldn't find anything available in HK. 

So I created a niche and wish I had a shop to distribute them -  so everyone could enjoy the 'glow' and ambiance at an affordable price. 

For the last 4 years while taking groups to Zhuhai, we stop off at the local Antique Market Place at one of my favorite shops. 

Several years ago I started purchasing lamps from the shop - but I wanted them wired for 'English' use.  Meaning the on/off switch is a clicker at the bulb.  It's also used with a final and harp. 

I would rather go to the top of the lamp - find the switch and turn it off - rather than reaching awkwardly most of the time for the cord to find the switch. 

Chinese connection - and the on/off is on the cord. 


How to Determine the Correct Lampshade Size

Lampshade Selection Guidelines 
1. The more basic the shape of the body of the lamp, the more varied styles of shades it can take.
2. Repeat the shape(s) in the lamp body in the shade shape; i.e., a round lamp on a square base can take a shade with a rounded top and square bottom.
3. The diameter of the bottom of the shade should not be greater than the height of the lamp body (to the bottom of the socket). Not a true believer in this one.  It also depends on how wide the base is….  
4. Match lampshade colors to the trim color in your room and the tones in the lamp body. Don’t be afraid of black or color as an accent.
5. Consider your wattage needs! The lampshade (not the lamp body) determines maximum wattage allowed.  I make my lamps wide so the heat is dispersed - meaning you can use a higher wattage. 
6. Consider the style of the lamp when selecting a shade. A busy lamp generally calls for a plainer shade.
7. For DRAMA, break the rules! Try “extreme” shades! Put a deep cone shade on a short round ball base, a glossy white shade on a beige stone vase, a cube shade on a stacked ball lamp, a red or black shade on an Oriental base, etc.

HARP HEIGHT - the harp should be about 1.5" shorter than the shade height.  This is for a normal fitting where the base meets the socket.  If you have a 'neck' that is extended - than your harp will be adjusted (smaller) - 
Example:  A 9" shade height will take a 7.5" harp.  This is measured without the saddle - just the bar of the harp is measured.  If you have a neck that is 2" then you reduce the harp to 5.5 - 6". 

How do you determine shade height?
The height of a table lamp shade should be approximately the height of the base (to bottom of socket) x65% up to 80%.. The height of a floor lamp shade should be approximately the height of the base x47%. Measure shade height along the slant.

Should the shade kiss the top of the lamp’s base? Should we see a little of the harp/hardware part of the lamp?
The bottom of the lampshade should come to the top of the body of the lamp so that no mechanical parts except 1/2 the neck show. The bottom of the shade should also fall at the eye level of the user. Most harps are interchangeable so you may need to purchase a new harp with your new shade. 

What about diameter?
The diameter (width) of a table shade should NEVER exceed the height of the base (to the bottom of the socket) and should be within 2″ of this dimension.
I'm not a true believer in this rule.  I have a base that is rounded - so it's 13" w x 13" tall.  I have a shade on it that is 16 x 17 x 10.5 and think it looks fine. 
Here's another:  base is 9" w x 12" h.  The lamp shade is 13 x 15 x 9.5.  Rules can be broken.  Stand back and look at it from afar -- you have a better perspective. 

Taking a photo of a lamp is difficult!!!!  This looks like it's top heavy - but in the room it looks very different. 


After months of searching the internet for a lampshade manufacture (locally) - oddly enough I found a source on Craig's list!
The office is located in TST and they will make a single shade/ special order.  They also have the capabilities to make an English style shade. 

Owner: Mark
Concord Arts-Crafts Ltd
(Conarts for short)
Suite 612 6/f Beverly Commercial Center
87 - 105 Catham Rd South
phone 852-2973-0239
call before and make an appointment

It takes a MONTH for the shade. 

I found that linen at the Western Market is about $200hk a yard and up.  That was too costly for the masses - so I headed to Sham Shui Po.  After trial and error I found linen at $35hk a yard!  So, I purchased 50 yards of fabric and made 50 shades. Try housing that in your home. 

I would purchase more in case - if you find a reasonable price fabric.  

There is a stall in Lo Wu 5th floor/ Shenzhen that carries linen at $40rmb yd.  Just make sure that it's not too heavy. It's difficult to work with and won't defuse the light.  

Every time I took a group to Zhuhai - the girls would purchase their lamp base - I would ship everything to my flat - and then match up a shade for each.  

Lamp Base:  $300-$500rmb
Lamp Shade complete - $600hk
Shipping from China $100hk
Total price for a lamp - $1200

Averages about $150 US for a lamp that would retail for twice that.  Not Cheap but Affordable and beautiful.  A Treasure found. 

There is a local shop in Central and he can do it in a week - but he can only make a Chinese attachment. 
All his prices are the same whether you purchase his fabric or supply your own.  It was $600 but the price may have gone up.  

He can also take a vase and make it into a lamp.  We have given him a metal vase and base to do the same. 

Soong Arts Lampshades
So Sung Man
6 Square St
Central (next to the coffins by the Man Mo temple on Hollywood Rd. )
phone 2549-0615

FABRIC for the shades. 

While shades add the finishing touch to a lamp, they should also be selected to produce the amount of light required. Translucent white and ivory shades give off a gentle overall light while opaque shades focus light down for reading or illuminating objects on a table. Although it’s best to keep all the “white” shades in a room the same color (keep to the tones of the wall or trim color), an occasional colored or black shade can add pizzazz and diversity.

SILK: Silk can look lovely but realize it does eventually fade.   That's why I use linen. 

Same lamp shade on different lamps. 

COTTON PRINTS:  These can really make a lamp sing. 

Plaids are difficult to make - it takes a very skilled worker for this and you may be charged more. 

There was a lamp store in Sai Kung - that's where I purchased this bird lamp.  Not sure  if they are still there - but the selection was getting simpler. This lamp was actually on my wish list from years ago - and I couldn't believe it was in this shop! 

Nubby linen in a light turquoise 

Pottery Barn and Burlap Lamp shades are my favorite.  If seen burlap in the Central lanes market.  

If you don't line the shade - you will see the bulb.  


Remember - a vase has to be housed on a wood base to create the lamp.  The cord threads from the bottom - so the vase has to be lifted up.  Easy if the vase is round - not if it's any other shape - like a square or a rectangle. 

Also remember - if the vase is square a round shade may look awkward. 

If you want the fancy up the lamp - use a decorative base.  If you want to raise the lamp up - display the lamp on another base. 

Ralph Lauren uses gold paint on the bases and tops.  An inexpensive way to enhance the lamp.  I always thought they were metal until I took a closer look.  These retail about $500 in the USA. 


barrel shade with accent trim


To me these are the icing on the cake.  Have fun with them. 

Another source for lamps 

Sum Ngai Brass Factory
195 - B Kam Sheung Rd
Kam Tin, N.T.

If your looking for a floor lamp - their brass bases are $1800 and the shades are $440.  I would purchase the base and make your own shade that has a Western look. 

Their table lamps are pricey for a new person setting up ($2300). 

A 3rd source is in Shenzhen at the Home Accessory Center.  I have not been there in years and I'm sure the availability of lamps is still growing.... but you have to hand carry them back

This will eventually be another blog.... on the center and location.