Lamp shade making centres around the ability to shape a shade in order to direct a light source. Creating one-of-a-kind lamp shades happens when the designer incorporates the unusual and often overlooked possibilities. Every shade has two main parts---the frame and the shade material. The combination of the two parts gives the shade its shape.
Educate Before Creating
Frame materials can be wire, metal or wood. Shades can be paper, fabric, plastic, mylar or found object. Spend time educating the eye and mind about the possibilities for lamp shades by visiting lamp stores, furniture stores and speciality stores that sell home accessories. Look at what designers and artists have created by reviewing magazines and books on the topic of home decorating. Note the frame and shade material combinations. Don't discount the value of lampshade learning kits for further ideas.
Explore Decorative Materials
Glue may be the easiest and fastest way to adhere the shade material to the frame but shade style and room decor may be calling for something different. Look at whipstitching (also called lacing) the shade to the frame using leather or vinyl thread found at most fabric or hobby stores. Lacing comes in a wide variety of colours including metallics and clear. Trim can be used to decorate a shade or even hide poor gluing techniques. Tassels, fringe or binding tape are ways to dress up a shade. Handmade papers or hand-painted papers are a nice touch. Consider purchasing these papers from local artists.
Lamp shades always contain a piece of hardware, called a top, that allows the shade to be connected with the lamp socket and base. Styles for this piece of hardware can vary but generally fall into the following categories---clip top, washer top and chimney top. Bottom rings are sold in one inch increments and start as small as three inches and as large as 27 inches or more. Lamp shop suppliers sell lamp shade wire rings (top and bottom) separately, making it easy for a person to build her own style of frame.
Consider reusing existing lamp frames and shades before making new purchases. Shop yard sales, estate sales and even furniture and lamp store sales to find shades. Collect interesting textiles from fabric store remnant tables or second hand clothing. Frames without shades attached can be collected and used as needed or as examples to work from. Wrapping papers, art papers, rubber stamped papers and children's artwork on paper can all be incorporated into lamp shades.