A few days later, he went to work in our backyard, and made two primitive molds – one for a lamp and one for a lampshade. He experimented with several recipes, and ended up with a mixture of cement and vermiculite, and filled the molds. Both the lamp and shade were made of the same material. He took it to the store and they agreed to put them in their showroom. They sold very quickly, and more were ordered. As time went on, he improved his product, and rented a building. Father named his company “MORLITE LAMP & SHADE COMPANY”. He experimented with different ideas, and he asked many questions. He found one or two women who knew how to sew lamp shades and hired them. Of course, our mother was learning right along with him.
In the 1940’s, my father leased a building on 5th South and 11th East. The old “Salt City Jail” was under our business. It really was a jail before it was a restaurant. It was dark and scary. There was no daycare, so my two sisters and I were there much of the time during the summer months. We spent a lot of fun time playing in the old jail, but I always wanted to watch how they did things, and also help to make lampshades. Mother would give me a small lampshade frame to cover, and I would sit at the table along with 17 other women who were also making shades. My shades were terrible but Mother and Daddy would tell me how wonderful they looked, and then the shade would disappear. While other little girls were making doll clothes, my older sister and I were learning how to make lampshades. By the time we were in our very early teens, we were working after school and on Saturdays making lampshades. We could do almost everything except make patterns, which we learned a little later.
Morlite Lamp & Shade Company made lampshades for the finest homes including the Governor’s Mansion and the Sale Lake Temple. In the middle of the 1950’s our father became very ill. In 1959, when he passed away, our business closed.
By that time I was married and had a tiny daughter, but I still loved lamp shades. The first thing I noticed in a room was the lamp shades (I still do). Even though I was a very busy wife and mother, I still made time to make lamp shades for myself, family, and friends. I became known as the “lady who makes lamp shades”. At that time, 100% of my work consisted of recovering and restoring lampshades.
In the mid 1970’s a woman from our local newspaper, The Deseret News, called and asked if they could do an article about me and my lampshades. I had no idea that there would pictures, and also be on the front page of the Family section. The day after the article was in the paper, they called and asked me if it would be alright if they gave my phone number to people that called. I asked if anyone had called, and they said yes; about 100 people called. It changed my life almost overnight, and my hobby became my business.
I named my company Morlite Lamp & Shade Company, mainly for my father. We are very proud of what we do, and we are always searching for the best fabrics and trims. The customers’ fabric is also welcome.
We make custom shades as well as recovering. We have hundreds of frames here, and we can also order frames if we don’t have them in stock.
In 1991, my husband built a beautiful little shop for me on our property. For me it is the perfect life. I am at home, and can go a few feet and I am at work. I am never bored because every shade is different. Now our daughter, Julie, is also working with me. It is a wonderful life for us, and we meet such great people.