a little bit about us

The Lampshade School in Wiltshire, England, offers a range of professional lampshade making skills workshops. It is founded by Joanna Heptinstall.


Joanna trained in upholstery twenty years ago and worked as an upholsterer for several years before setting up the Traditional Upholstery School, which now teaches professional AMUSF upholstery courses.

Along the way, Joanna fell in love with lampshades. “The journey began when I spotted a very lovely but tatty shade in a shop window in Bath. It was actually part of the window display but I finally managed to persuade the owner to let me have it.

I took it home and tried recover it. Back then there were no books, and no-one was teaching the skills, so I figured it out. It was a lot of trial and error. My upholstery training and my degree in fine art were invaluable. Eventually I got the hang of it…”

Since then Joanna has written a book called Sewing Lampshades, taught hundred of people lampshade making skills – even from around the world. Many of have gone on to set up their own lampshade making businesses, based on the skills they have learned from Joanna. The latest step in the journey is our unique online ‘Lesson in a Box’, which enables students to access our courses from their own home.

“When not busy teaching and organising classes, lampshade making is what I do for creativity and just for fun.

I can be curious about a technique, so will fiddle and trial new methods, or I have found some fabric or a lovely shape I can’t resist working with it.”

The Lampshade School is little sister to the Traditional Upholstery School, based in spacious workrooms in the Wiltshire countryside. We offer professional lampshade making skills. Our classes and one-to-one training covers a huge range of techniques, from the classic tailored lampshade, to complex and creative methods such as pleating with chiffon and handmade trimmings.