How to Paint Glass Lamp Shades

Updated April 17, 2017

Lamp shades make an interesting surface for painting. When the lamp is lit, the design becomes even more beautiful than ever. It's not as hard as you think. Learn how you can make your own glass lamp shades the topic of discussion the next time you have guests over. Acrylic glass paints work best for this type of project.

Wet the paper towel with a good amount of white vinegar. Wipe the glass lamp shade well. Try not to touch the surface you plan to paint with your fingers or hands. Hold the glass lamp shade with a paper towel as you wipe it with the vinegar-soaked towel. Set it aside to dry.

Shake the paint bottles well to mix each colour inside. Pour each colour onto the palette into a small nickel-sized puddle. Make sure the colours don't run together.

Tear or cut the design pattern to fit inside the glass lamp shade. You should be able to see the design through the glass. Tape it in place while making sure it lays as flat as possible against the inside of the glass surface.

Pick up the foundation colour of paint with a dry brush (no water is used when painting on glass). Apply the colour in an even application so there are no ridges in the paint. Let the paint dry completely before applying the next colour or layer over the first one.

Continue to paint the design, allowing each layer of colour to dry thoroughly before continuing. When the design is finished, remove the pattern from the inside of the lamp shade and allow the paint to cure for at least 24 to 48 hours prior to use. Clean the brushes with soap and water when you are finished using them.


Some glass paints can be cured by oven-baking them at low temperatures. Paint brushes can be wiped clean between paint applications and stored in a damp paper towel until ready to use. Glass paint can be found in craft stores.


Washing the brushes between uses will leave water in the brush and make colour application less effective.

Things You'll Need

  • Glass lamp shade
  • White vinegar
  • Paper towels
  • Paintbrushes (acrylic art brushes, small and medium)
  • Design pattern (optional)
  • Tape
  • Acrylic glass paint (your choice of colours)
  • Plate or palette
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About the Author

As an author and instructor in the arts, Jeanne Paglio has been writing since 2001 and has been an artist for over 25 years. Her articles have appeared in "Painting Magazine," "Quick & Easy Painting," and "The Decorative Painter." Paglio studied art and design at Rhode Island School of Design.