Ideas for making lamp shades

Written by elizabeth smith
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Ideas for making lamp shades
Re-covering lamps can turn them into new, stylish pieces. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Lamp shades can add a great deal of style to a room design. When you don't want to spend a fortune on decorative shades or if you can't find the right design to complete your room, make your own. By using materials that are easy to find at a craft store, you can create one-of-a-kind, elegant shades that fit perfectly in your home.

Standing Lamp

If you have a short lamp base or a standing lamp, make a standing lamp shade out of craft paper. Start with a large piece of a base paper and form it into a tall rectangular form that can rest directly on a table or desk; cut a small half circle out of the bottom back edge for the cord. Look for textured paper that will show detail in the light. Add details to the paper: cut out shapes and back them with a piece of vellum, glue on paper or fabric details, or use a hole punch to create a polka dot pattern.

Wire Frame

For a lamp shade that looks like an antique, make a wire frame. Start with a basic hanging light bulb, a desk lamp, or a standard low-profile lamp frame. Using a thick-gauge wire and dowels to act as bending rods, create a birdcage-style frame that fits around the lamp. Experiment with different shapes and angles: a round wire spherical cage or a lantern-style shape, for example. Build the basic shape by bending the wire into the basic shape and fill in the gaps with parallel lines and crossbars.


If you have old lamp shades that do not work with your home design, you can add a new covering to give them a new look. For a simple project, cover an old lamp shade in craft paper or fabric, making sure to use glue only on the inside edges to avoid bubbling or wrinkling. In a child's room, use rows of looped ribbon or fake flowers to hide an ugly shade and create a sweet, decorative lamp. If you can find old or ripped shades, tear off the original fabric and preserve the wire frame; cover it with sturdy rice paper or upholstery fabric that matches your room design.


Many craft and home stores sell basic lamp shades out of thin, frosted plastic. Make your own by bending a long rectangle of thin plastic into a cylindrical or cube shape and gluing the edges together with a heavy-duty glue. Customise the lamp shade to achieve a look that fits with your home design: glue on circles of plastic for a modern look, add silhouettes or words out of black craft paper, or glue on burlap or linen to give a natural texture.

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