How to Make Lampshades From Paper

There are many gorgeous handmade and designer papers around which are just begging to be used in a room scheme and one of the ways you can incorporate them in your decor is by using them for lamp shades.

If you have some paper which you would like to use as a lamp shade design then there are a couple of ways you can do that.

1. Use a Frame

If your paper is sturdy enough you can wrap it around a lamp shade frame and glue it carefully into place. These frames are obtainable from craft shops. For this method you need to make sure that you are careful enough and the paper is sturdy enough to avoid it being torn by the metal frame. It would be a shame to see the frame poking out through your beautiful paper.

2. Use an Existing Shade

The method I prefer for paper shades is to cover an existing simple lamp shade. The existing shade will protect the paper against tearing and gives you a better base on which to glue the paper. (I tend to use the first method only if the paper is translucent and I would like to see the light shining through it).

You can use a lamp shade you already own or buy a cheap lamp shade that you can then adapt.

Make a paper pattern from the existing shade by laying the shade seam down on a large piece of paper. Mark the two edges of the seam and then roll the shade marking the paper with a pencil along the top and bottom edges until you reach the seam again. Allow an additional half inch at the seam edge to create an overlap for gluing.

Lay your pattern on the wrong side of your desired paper shade and lightly mark the shape of the shade. You can cut out as is or add a decorative edging as required such as a scalloped edge.

Glue the seam at the overlap and once it is dry and secure place the new shade over the existing shade to create your new look shade.

Safety first

Whenever you use a paper lamp shade make sure that the paper is far enough away from the light bulb to avoid causing a fire as bulbs can get very hot in use. Use low voltage light bulbs which do not get so hot yet emit as much light as normal bulbs. Also make sure that there is enough distance between the center of the bulb and the shade – the so-called “critical radius”. This distance should be at least three inches to be on the safe side for a typical 100 Watt bulb. Also check your lamp and if the shade feels hot after your lamp has been on for 5 minutes then the bulb is too close to the shade.

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