It’s lit: Dana Quist’s lamp shades light up living rooms and the small screen

Photo: Amy Jackson Photo: Amy Jackson

One of the most iconic images from the classic holiday film A Christmas Story is the fishnet stocking- and black stiletto-clad leg lamp that causes quite a stir when Ralphie’s dad, Mr. Parker, displays it in the front window of his home at Christmastime. With its fringe-trimmed shade reminiscent of a can-can dancer’s skirt, the saucy lamp lands Mr. Parker on some folks’ naughty list.

When the film was adapted for a three-hour Fox television special, A Christmas Story Live!, last December, Charlottesville-based lamp shade designer Dana Quist tuned in, but not for a glimpse of the infamous lamp: She had made 10 glossy red lampshades for the production, as part of a holiday display in a Higbee’s department store scene.

The production designer had found Quist’s Etsy shop, LampShadeDesign, and placed a custom order.

Quist, who used to run a monogramming business, began making lampshades in 2011 while looking for something easy to make and sell on Etsy. She remembered seeing a few —but not many—lampshades on the site, all pretty well-priced, and for a crafty person who loves fabric but doesn’t like to sew (and a businesswoman looking to make some cash in a niche market), lampshades seemed like a good fit.

Quist watched some how-to videos online and gave it a go. All it takes is a couple of wire lamp shade rings (which she purchases in a variety of sizes from a seller in Tennessee), some backing material and fabric, which she stretches taut to fit the rings, then uses transfer tape and strong glue to hold it all together.

Quist offers drum- and taper-shape lamps in a variety of fabrics and finishes—black glossy drum shades, floral fabric tapered shades, even woven rattan pendant lampshades—with prices starting at around $40. Each shade takes about 30 minutes to make, depending on the size and shape.

She’s always happy to consult with customers on creating the right shade for their lamp, taking things like room décor, lamp aesthetic and function into consideration. For example, Quist wouldn’t recommend a dark shade for a bedside table reading lamp, as it wouldn’t give off enough light. She particularly loves projects that involve creating new shades for grandma’s old, but still pretty cool, lamp.

As far as decorating goes, says Quist, a lampshade can be a relatively inexpensive and low-risk way to change up the look and feel of a room. And if you’re looking to make a splash (like Mr. Parker), a shade can do that, too.