Getting a glimpse into Michael Macone’s world is a crafty art-lover’s dream. Macone runs The Potter’s Shed in Shell Lake, Wis., a cool art gallery-meets cafe-meets do-it-yourself art space-meets music venue. “It’s 50,000 square feet of art fun,” he says. He also runs Macone Clay, where he creates all sorts of clay projects including lamps, bowls, cups, plaques and much more.
One of Macone’s most popular items is the artsy lamps, which are almost entirely created in-house. The wood base is made in the woodshop, the body is extruded clay that’s manipulated while it’s still wet. The shade is printed on LexJet Sunset Textured Fine Art Paper 310g.
When he first began making the lamps, he was purchasing shades from a home supply store and hand-painting each one. “That was a lot of fun for a while … but the painting was arduous and stressful,” he says. “We had to be careful not to over-saturate the paint, and eventually it turned into a big bother rather than fun.”
But the lamps, which sell for $225, were gaining popularity, and he needed a solution. That’s when he came across printed lamp shades at a wholesale event, and decided to give it a try. “It was a big learning curve getting the template in the digital realm, but we figured it out,” he says. He was working with a different brand of paper, which was fine, he says, but his LexJet rep introduced him to the Textured Fine Art Paper, and he made the switch.
“It ended up being thicker and felt better on the frame,” Macone says. “It looked noticeably better, which surprised us. When we compared it – the color just snapped more.”
Macone’s lamp shade designs start sometimes as pencil sketches or photos or paintings that he manipulates in Photoshop to get the final design that pairs best with the lamp’s body, which is painted and enhanced with melted glass that drips elegantly down the edge.
He offers four lamp base styles and 20 shade options, and sells about 500 lamps a year through YouNeedArtNow.com, in The Potter’s Shed gallery and at art fairs around the country.
A long-time LexJet customer, Macone also uses his Epson wide-format printer to create collages with sweet artwork and sayings that are adhered to wooden plaques. For those, he opts for LexJet Premium Archival Matte Paper, which he finishes with a UV coating that he also utilizes for the lamp shades.
“It’s a good quality photo paper that we’ve been using for a couple of years,” he says. “We always have lots of colors [in our designs] and just have a lot of fun with the art.”