Why Do I Need A Magnifying Lamp

This article is for the benefit of the students who will be attending my workshops in Australia, you should be able to access your preparatory notes today.  Please pass this onto anyone you know who is attending a workshop in April, and of course it may be of interest to others.

One of the stipulations when attending a needle painting workshop is that you bring with you a magnifying lamp –  I thought I should explain this further.  Even if you have almost perfect eyesight, or magnifying specs or great prescription specs, you will not see the individual stitches of your embroidery without the help of a magnifying lamp.  The essential word here is LIGHT.  Even if you have good magnification without light it is virtually useless.

I spent many years doing long & short stitch without a magnifying lamp and when I finally acquiesced I could not believe the difference it made!  Everything became clear and I was horrified when I looked at my previous stitching to see that I had gaps and overlapping stitches all over the place.   Once you have used a magnifying lamp you will never look back, it is the best investment you will ever make, and if you are serious about needle painting embroidery it is essential.

I had a lady who came to me for lessons she was insistent that she could do her embroidery without the help of a magnifying lamp.  For months she struggled, got frustrated and eventually said “Trish what am I doing wrong?”.  I asked her to use my magnifying lamp for the morning and see how she got on……………… the difference was like night and day and her work improved dramatically  from that time on.

Many students arrive at a class armed with what they think is a magnifying lamp but actually it is just the mini cousin of the real thing!  These are what you should not bring:

Choose The Right Light.  By magnifying lamp I mean either a floorstanding or portable daylight magnifying lamp with at least 12/15w and minimum of 3.5″ lens.  The work area should be large enough for you to see most of your project through.   The larger ones that have a floor stand are great for home use but not necessarily convenient for lugging to workshops so you may prefer to get yourself a portable one.

Recommended.  If I had to recommend one light that does it all I would say go for the Purelite.  It has the option of both mains or battery which is great for workshops as no cords in the way, but is also large enough to use at home.  I use the purelite with the table clamp for workshops and battery pack.

Here are some examples of magnifying lamps that are good for workshops:

Here are some links of available magnifying lamps in Australia here.

This site is offering 30% off here.

IF you are coming from another country such as the USA you may want to consider purchasing a purelite with battery from Amazon UK here:

Hope this makes it all clear for you and please don’t hesitate to email me if you have any questions.


19 thoughts on “Why Do I Need A Magnifying Lamp”

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  2. Trish: I have been trying to purchase a Purelite lamp as it sounds perfect as I have a cottage in Algonquin Park that has no electricity so battery operated lamp would be perfect. Amazon UK won’t ship to Canada. Can you give me the voltage of this lamp as Canada’s voltage is 110 and I understand Europe is 220. Anyt other ideas where I might be able to purchase this item?

    PS: I made a ivory coloured jacket for my sister and embroidered many of the flowers from the Long and Short book on it – the Iris only took me two whole weeks of vacation but turned out wonderful. Keep inspiring me!!
    Mary Young from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

    1. Hi Mary Am not sure if the purelite lamp is available in the USA but I believe there is something similar, one of my US students had it in class? The light from UK would not be suitable for your voltage in Canada – I wish they would standardise voltages worldwide! Wonderful to hear about your embroidered jacket, it must look beautiful and your sister must be thrilled, thank you for sharing with me. Trish

  3. Hi Trish, I’ve really enjoyed this post on lights and magnifiers. I agree with you completely about what a difference a magnifier can make. I have a lovely Daylight Floor standing lamp with a detachable magnifier. However, I am wondering what your advise is for someone like me who, would love to use her magnifier but gets incredibly ill using them. Not only do I get a bad headache, I can actually vomit. So, I have not been able to use my detachable magnifier and my hubby uses it to read.

    1. Hi Seren, you are the third person who has emailed saying they have health related problems with magnifiers, that’s so sad! The next best thing is a very good craft light – one that has a very bright daylight – as this will not put any strain on your eyes. It helps so much to be able to see your work clearly. If you are able you could use a pair of clip on magnifiers or simply buy a pair of readers in the right strength and wear these either on top of your specs or alone. The combination will be good – but if you can’t handle the magnification just use a good light. Maybe you could check your work under your magnifying lamp occasionally to see that your stitching is ok? Trish

  4. Hello Everyone, Many people in workshops that i have attended in Perth have bought these great lamps from Jaycar electronics. They are very light and portable and make such a difference to the ability to do fine work.
    Thank you for your blog, Trish, your work is an inspiration and your latest book on colour is fantastic

    CAT. NO. QM3544

    No more fluorescent tubes to replace on your maggy lamp. Sixty LEDs provide ample illumination, perfectly even light and the 3x and 12x magnifying len… more…

    1+ $49.95
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    10+ $39.90
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  5. They also sell them in the US at Dick Blick’s art supply. The daylight magnifying lamp one at the top with the embroidery retails for $122.78. They also have the floor/table model in black for $74.99. – major art supplier here.

  6. Thankyou so much! For both stressing the need for a magnifying light (which I remember you mentioning before) and telling us the right ones to buy. 🙂

  7. Hello all! Just by chance I purchased a small magnifing lamp several days ago, and I will test it out today! One tool I have come to rely on is my computer. I take a picture of the piece I am working on, and then I enlarge it on my computer and I look for any misplaced stitches or other mistakes, it really helps me strive for perfection, and I use the same technique for examining my finished jewelry as well:) Lisette

  8. I couldn’t agree with you more Trish. I am totally lost without my magnifying lamp. It sure does make a big difference. Elza.

  9. I wear varifocal glasses and to use a magnifier as well makes me dizzy. Have you had this before?

    1. No Ann have not heard of this before but many people can’t use magnifiers for some reason – does not mean they can’t stitch, just makes life a bit easier. Trish

    2. I use a good day ligth lamp and reading glasses. I also examine the work on screen too.
      Have you ever done UK workshops?

      1. I was invited to teach at Knitting & Stitching show, Alexander palace but they don’t cover the costs of airfares so unfortunately had to decline. Perhaps one day. Trish

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