Art teachers Lamp Lady Designs will turn on the fun at Art in the Burbs

by: TIMES PHOTO: JONATHAN HOUSE -  Sally Green, left, and Sue Hargrave are surrounded by lamps they have created in Hargrave's workroom in her home; although they made quite a few lamps two weeks before Art in the Burbs, they had many more to make before the opening. Preparing for Art in the Burbs — the annual art show and sale that benefits the Foundation for Tigard-Tualatin Schools — teachers Sue Hargrave and Sally Green are having way too much fun as they create lamps they will sell in a shared space at the event.

Getting together two weeks before the show’s Friday opening, with a number of lamps completed but with many more to go, Hargrave said, “We’re having a lamp-a-thon for the next couple weeks.” Green added, “It will be a lamp-a-palooza.”

The two still giggle when they recall how they met eight years ago — stuck in an elevator at the Portland Art Museum for an Oregon Art Education Association meeting because neither could figure out which button to push.

“Someone walked in and hit the right button, and we looked at each other and knew we were going to be friends,” Hargrave said.

Green added, “Plus, Sue was my daughter’s teacher, and we knew some of the same people.”

Otherwise, their paths might not have crossed. Hargrave has taught art at Twality Middle School in Tigard for the past 10 years, although this year she was switched to teaching language arts.

“I have taught every grade in K through nine except for third, and I have taught in a Hebrew school, inner-city Boston and a Catholic school,” said Hargrave, who has spent 20 of her 30 years teaching in private schools.

The OAEA named Hargrave Oregon’s Mid-Level Art Teacher of the Year a couple of years ago, when the annual conference was held in Bend, according to Green.

“It was amazing,” Green said. “There were images of her work, her students’ work and quotes from faculty, parents, and former students honoring her as an art teacher.”

Green is in her eighth year of teaching art at St. Francis School, a private school in Sherwood. She teaches there two days a week and also substitute teaches in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

“I am certified to teach K through 12, and as a substitute teacher, you can teach any subject,” Green said.

Twice they have taught classes together for the OAEA, and the lamp project is their third collaboration.

“I started making them a few years ago and sold a few at Art in the Burbs,” Hargrave said. “I put a sign up offering to teach classes on how to make them.”

Green, who serves on the board of Art in the Burbs, added, “Sue and I decided to make lamps together. It was a chance to do something together. Every lamp has a name — we give them crazy names.”

Each lamp is unique, although sometimes they make a similar one after creating a favorite style.

“We have some we love that we want to make more of — we have a list,” Hargrave said.

Besides teaching and making lamps, the two women are talented artists in their own right: Green does drawings in pen and ink plus color pencil, and she also paints; and Hargrave draws figures and works with “rocks.”

“I love rocks — anything from the Earth,” she said. “I love mosaics. I have a garage full of granite.”

Hargrave has taken classes from a Romanian craftsman, created smaller mosaic projects and plans to create two mosaic patios in her back yard.

As for how the lamp bug bit, Hargrave said she purchased a lamp similar to the ones they now make at a school auction and thought, “I could do that.”

Green “blames” Hargrave for getting her into lamp-making. “It’s her fault,” she said.

They dabbled in lamp-making last spring and got serious about it during their summer break.

The concept is simple — they purchase basic lamps with white shades from desk to floor size at Ikea or online and “embellish” them.

Using decorative tissue paper, fiber paper and handmade paper, they cut out shapes — from geometric forms to birds to flowers to animals to plants — and glue them using their “top secret” formula (decoupage glue) to the shades before sealing them and adding creative finials, fringe and so on.

“Sometimes when we are spraying on that final coat, we nearly asphyxiate ourselves,” Hargrave said.

Each lamp has a theme and a color scheme, and the ladies get a little wacky when adding the embellishments (“funky little pieces of art,” according to Hargrave), such as an eyeball on top of a lamp featuring eyeglasses.

“We’re kind of sick,” Hargrave admitted.

Art in the Burbs will be the first big commercial venture for the duo, whose Lamp Lady Designs business card reads, “Lighten up!” and shows a drawing of a woman wearing a lampshade as a hat.

One day, when they have the time and resources such as grants, “our dream all the time is starting our own art school for little kids to adults and teach all kinds of art,” Hargrave said. “I’ve worked with kids — she’s worked with kids. We want to figure out how do we work for ourselves and other people? I’m sure we’ll be making trouble somewhere.”

Green added, “Art is being cut from the schools, and it should be available to everyone.”

Art in the Burbs was started 13 years ago by several friends who lived on Bull Mountain, and each year they chose a different charity as the beneficiary of the annual fundraisers. After seven years, the schools foundation took it over, and this is the sixth year it has produced the popular event, which has been held at Alberta Rider Elementary School for the past several years.

“Everyone on the board is enthusiastic,” Hargrave said. “Every year they do amazing things.”

Green, who is in charge of the student gallery at the show, added, “Every school gets money for the arts, such as the band program, murals and art supplies.”

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