How to make a lamp shade from wire hangers

Written by patrice lesco
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Traditional lamp shade construction begins with a wire base. However, wire bases can be expensive to purchase and sometimes difficult to find. Building your own lamp shade base with wire hangers and covering it with fabric is an alternative that will allow you to save time and money, as well as create decor you can find pride in.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wire cutters
  • 2 mixing bowls of different sizes
  • Measuring tape
  • Metal washer
  • Newspaper
  • Epoxy glue
  • Muslin or other fabric
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush

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Instructions

    Shade Bottom

  1. 1

    Cut off the hook portion of the hanger with wire cutters where the wire begins to be wound at the top on both sides of the hanger. Depending on the size of the lamp shade that you are creating, you may need more than one hanger.

  2. 2

    Stretch out the wire from the hanger, bending portions of the wire backward as needed to smooth out the bends. Try laying the wire on a flat surface and pressing it down to make the job easier.

  3. 3

    Lay a large mixing bowl mouth down on a table. The lip of the mixing bowl should be the size that you want the bottom of your lamp shade to be. For smaller lamp shades use a small bowl and for larger lamp shades, use a large bowl.

  4. 4

    Wrap the wire around the lip of the mixing bowl, then make a small crimp in the wire where the two ends of the wire meet by slightly bending the wire on one end. Remove the wire from the bowl, then wrap the wire around itself where you have marked it, connecting both ends of the wire. Use your wire cutters to cut off any excess wire.

  5. 5

    Cut four more pieces of wire, using your wire cutters. These pieces of wire should all be the same length and should be the height that you want your lamp shade to be. Use a measuring tape to measure the wire so that each strand is the same length. Add 2 inches to the length on each end so that you can wrap one end of the wire around the wire bottom of the shade and later at the top of the shade. Place the four pieces of wire evenly around the round wire base that you have created, so that when you are done, each piece is attached to the base, then stands up from the base.

    Shade Top

  1. 1

    Lay a mixing bowl mouth down on a table. This mixing bowl should be smaller than the one you used for the bottom of the shade, as it will form the pattern for the top of the shade.

  2. 2

    Wrap wire around the lip of the mixing bowl, crimp it where the wire comes together, then wrap the ends of the wire together to connect them. Cut off any excess with wire cutters.

  3. 3

    Lay a metal washer in the centre of the wire hoop on a flat surface covered with newspaper. The metal washer must be able to fit over the bolt on the top of your lamp.

  4. 4

    Measure the distance between the edge of the hoop and the metal washer using a measuring tape. Then cut four straight strips of wire using your measurements. The wire must be long enough to rest on the edge of the hoop and on the top of the washer ring.

  5. 5

    Glue the wire to the hoop and the washer ring using epoxy glue made for metal. The wire pieces should be evenly spaced between the hoop and the metal washer. Allow the glue to dry.

    Shade Body

  1. 1

    Attach the wire strands that extend from the base of the shade to the hoop for the top of the shade. Wrap the ends of the wire around the top hoop to secure the pieces together.

  2. 2

    Cut one long strand of wire using your wire cutters. This piece of wire should be long enough to go around the outside of the shade at the centre of the stand-up wires.

  3. 3

    Measure the length of the stand-up wires. Divide that number by two and mark one of the wires with a marker, indicating that length. This is the middle of your shade.

  4. 4

    Wrap the end of the long wire around on the stand-up wires at the centre of shade, wrapping the wire around each wire extension on the shade. Using the centre wire on the shade reinforces it so it does not sag. Trim any excess wire with your wire cutters.

    Fabric

  1. 1

    Measure the height and circumference of the lamp shade frame using a measuring tape.

  2. 2

    Cut a piece of fabric with scissors based on your measurements. Add 2 inches to the height to account for sewing around the edges.

  3. 3

    Sew the fabric to the top of the lamp shade form, turning the fabric over the top edge 1 inch and sewing it to the back side of the fabric, with the wire frame in the centre of the fold. Pull the fabric down and sew the fabric to the bottom of the shade as well in the same manner.

  4. 4

    Sew the seam on the lamp shade, where the material meets on the body, together using a needle and thread. Sew the seam from the inside of the shade and trim off any excess material with scissors.

  5. 5

    Paint the shade with acrylic paints and a brush if you are using muslin to cover the frame. Painting the muslin fabric will shrink the fabric slightly and make it tighter on the frame.

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