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Artist brightens lamps with stamps

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Postage stamps were created to stick to envelopes, post cards and packages, but artist Jim Prout prefers sticking stamps to lampshades.

Growing up in New Jersey, he said his dad planted the stamp seed early, but Prout put it aside for many years. Working in the mail room for a large company in Omaha reawakened his interest in stamps.

At a recently completed art exhibit by the Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona held at the Community Performing Arts Center gallery in Green Valley, Prout's lamps were an immediate attention-getter.

He took a basic desk lamp, an end table lamp and a hanging lamp and turned plain, off-white lampshades into "stampshades."

The base of the end-table lamp is also bedecked in stamps and overall the lamp contains about 1,500 stamps, Prout said.

He did the "stampshade" in sections with each section done in a different color - blue, green, red-orange and purple - with stamps from Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Australia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Norway, Spain, Canada and Israel.

There was even a purple, three-cent, U.S. stamp from bygone days when postage was cheap.

An unusual art form, Prout said he used to do stained glass then decided to do Tiffany-style on lampshades using stamps.

Describing the time-consuming process of removing the adhesive from old stamps, after endlessly soaking tubs of stamps and drying them, he applies each stamp individually using archival glue.

When the glue is dry Prout coats the entire surface with polyurethane and the lamp looks professionally done.

More than lampshades he does pieces of framed Celtic art where each section contains the same stamps. The Celtic piece at the Performing Arts Center was done with 10 colors.

Full of stamp trivia, Prout said yellow is rare in stamps. Blue and red are most common.

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