No star has showed up at the Oscars—at least not yet—in one of Kathleen Caid's designs, but they are a huge hit in Hollywood. Her lamps, crafted from vintage fabrics and glass beads, light up celebs like Cher (she owns 40) and Melanie Griffith (who has 90). "They think, 'I've got to have that beauty in my life,' " says Caid, 51. "It's just ringing their little bells."

And Caid's cash register. With lamps priced from $1,000 to $8,000, she expects her 12-year-old business to top $1 million in sales this year. "No one is making anything that is as unique and outrageous," says Manhattan interior designer and antique-store owner Alan Turak, whose tony East Coast clients are among Caid's coterie.

Caid was 25 in 1977, when her husband, Patrick, died of an aneurysm at 26. Grief-stricken and raising sons Cassidy, then 2, and Jesse, 6 months—Caid, an art school grad, supported herself by making one-of-a-kind hats she sold to L.A. stores. In 1981 a client suggested she create lamp shades in a similar vein. "I didn't have to worry about fit," says Caid, "and no one will sit on it in a taxi."

Married since 1998 to video producer Tim Melchior, 56, Caid, who lives in a Spanish-style home in Glendale, Calif., mines flea markets for material. "I only do this work," she says, laughing, "so I can go shopping."