DIY Lampshades

Good Morning!

I just got back last week from vacation….sigh. Per my normal summer routine, I spent my time off at my family’s cottage in Oak Point, NB (aka my favourite place on the planet). As usual it was awesome.  Lovely weather, hot with cool breezes, and I came back relaxed and calm.  We don’t have a TV there so there is a lot of reading, card games and napping on the itinerary. But as anyone who has a cottage knows, cottages also mean perpetual “projects”.  My parents have had projects on the go at the cottage since, well, as far back as I can remember.  Last summer I helped out with a bigger project, which I called #oakpointporch where I reupholstered two chairs and sewed a bunch of pillow covers for the porch. You can see the results here.  This year my task was to make some new lampshades.  The first lampshade I needed was for the top of this antique side table-lamp combo piece.

Before 1

before 2

Sure, the lampshade is okay, but we weren’t in love with the pleated /rouched look and it was cracked on the inside and stained a bit on the outside. It was time to go.  So, you many ask why I decided to make one when there are so many shades out there to buy.  This is why…..the hardware.

the problem

We looked high and low for a shade with this same kind of attachment hardware and nothing. Having seen many antique lamps, I know now that this hardware was pretty common, but not so much any more.  So, I decided I would make a new one using the existing hardware. And while I was at it I did shades for two small wooden lamps that needed refreshing.

I used this tutorial on Design Sponge on how to make a drum-style lamp. It was very straight forward and I would highly recommend it.  The only thing I did differently was I didn’t buy the “proper” inside material which is high pressure sensitive styrene with self adhesive on the back, I used poster board. I also used the inside of a an embroidery ring for bottom instead of another wire ring.


You may note from the picture below that my bottom ring seems larger than my top.  And yes, you are correct I had to “adjust” it with a cutter and some crazy-glue so it matched the top. I won’t go through all the instructions here because they do such a good job in the tutorial but here a couple of photos.

Process 1


Process 3
Now when I got to the small lampshades which were not drums and therefore not the same size on top as they were on the bottom….that is when sh*t got real.  Of course you can’t cut it straight to get a truncated cone says I, the girl with the engineering degree who tried to do that (twice) before realizing I couldn’t “force” it in place.  So, I took to the internet.  I found lots of formulas and tried to follow them.  I went out and bought a protractor,  I created a large compass using a nail string and a pencil and fiddled away but nothing worked quite right. And then I found…..wait for it……a truncated cone calculator.  People, if you are ever making a lampshade or need any kind of truncated cone for a craft…..USE THIS.  It is so much easier than doing the calcs yourself.  You still need the protractor and the compass but you can be sure that what you are measuring will work.  And then you will get the proper curved piece (like the one below) which will wrap around your two sizes of rings perfectly.

Process 2

A couple more progress shots….

Process 5

process 4

I used grosgrain ribbon and upholstery trim on the inside of my lamps to cover the glued edges but you can also use paper tape as shown in the tutorial.  And here is how they turned out….

after 4

After 1

after 2

after 3

Not too bad, if I do say so myself.  A couple more tips for you. You can use poster-board as a base like I did, but not if it’s a lamp you need a lot of light from.  Because it isn’t transparent it produces a glowy light rather than a bright one. If you need it brighter, get the styrene.  As I mentioned, I used and embroidery ring for the base, which worked great for the drum lamp but was a bit more awkward for the other two so I would say to invest in the proper ring for a non-drum shade.  However, despite the whole math, geometry, angles shenanigans, it wasn’t too difficult and turned out pretty well.  So if you can’t find the proper shade for your antique lamp or just want something fun and custom,  you can make your own!  Have a great day!


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