Thursday, October 8, 2009

Enterprising Woman

The 'Pioneer Spirit' is very much alive and well at Sue Chohon's place of business in O'Neill, Nebraska. Step inside and you will observe a very industrious lady with a seemingly odd combination of interests. 'The Sundance Shop' is where Sue works Monday through Friday with her laundry and ironing service, plus her lampshade business.

Twenty-five years ago, when Sue first began cleaning homes for hire, a few of her clients enquired as to whether she would also do their ironing. She added this service to her cleaning jobs, and her customer base expanded. Then, realizing she would rather "clean houses less and iron more", she soon dropped the housecleaning and continued with the ironing, eventually adding a laundry service. These jobs fit in perfectly with being a stay at home mom with three young children.

In the meantime, she became interested in the creative art of replacing old lampshades with new fabric and decorative bead and fringe trims. Her mother had done this for years, and when Sue first tried her hand at it, she "loved it", discovering she had quite a talent for this venture. Again, here was another ingenious way to earn extra income and still be able to care for her home and children. Sue says, "You do what you can do without a (college) degree...", and she definitely has the 'can-do' attitude.

Three years ago, Sue purchased a charming little house at the west end of town on Highway 20 as a base for her business pursuits. As time has passed, she has realized that she would prefer to place more emphasis on her lamp shade creations and less on the ironing--(I guess you could say that she is 'pressing on' to bigger and better things...) The house is a perfect setting for showcasing her exquisite lamps; original woodwork fills the richly colored rooms where the lamps are displayed in eye-pleasing vignettes.

Ideally, to begin the process of creating a new lampshade, there would still be the original wire shade frame for the lamp, although Sue can order a wire frame and come up with a lamp base--whatever the customer may prefer. She finds lamps at auctions and sales, and on occasion, has come across some real treasures at garage sales. And if need be, this talented lady can also do a simple re-wire. Sue has a stash of fabric available, or she can order fabric, or a person can supply their own. The same goes for the fringe trims and beads---she can order through certain companies, although she says the fringe is the hardest to find, and only a few companies will dye it a specific color. 'Candy glass', or 'sugar paper' shades are popular and unique in their texture and appearance...they're "kinda spendy", so creating this particular fabric finish is a technique Sue would like to learn how to do herself.

The process of making a shade is quite labor intensive and takes several hours. First, Sue wraps the wire frame with twill tape and allows it to dry, then paints the tape (if needed) to match the fabric color. She makes a pattern with foil, cuts out the fabric and lays it on the shade, and then glues it to the taped wire. Next, trims are added to cover seams, and the final striking touch that we all oooh and ahhh over... that gorgeous moody fringe and glistening, colorful beads that absolutely glow and sparkle when the lamp is lit. She tops it off with an attractive finial, and her creation is ready to light up a special corner in any room.

So, the industrious, inventive, and clever Sue Chohon has got it covered--from the shirt on your back to the shade on your lamp. Stop in when you are in town and see what she can do to 'light up your life'.



  1. EXCELLENT writing abou Sue Chohon! This was such an interesting read and so informative as well. The photos are stunning of her work and show well her TALENT.

    Way to go...Sue..STAY AT HOME MOM!!! I commend you!

    Best wishes for much success!

  2. Oh my! Look at that making of shades! Marvelous...

    And I just saw your comment over on 'Tales From A Cottage Garden' blog. You and I both, said that the orange things, are called Chinese Lanterns. And I noticed that. :-)

    I always considered it a kind of an old fashioned kind of a growing thing. I'm 72 and I remember them, so that qualifies for making them "old fashioned," I guess. :-)

    Gentle hugs,
    Aunt Amelia


Let us know what you think...