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How to make the perfect table lamp

Dannells lampshade kit and lamp base as made by Kettle of fish Designs

Exciting news! We have teamed up with Karen from Kettle of Fish Designs to bring you an inspiring post showing you how to make a lampshade and how to paint a lamp base. Knowing how to choose the right lampshade and base is no easy task so why not make the perfect combination for you?

Kettle of Fish Designs create wonderfully artistic and stylish handmade lampshades drawing inspiration from museum cabinets, junk shops, urban decay, the beauty of nature, and the unusual and quirky in life.

The work is an extension of my passion for collecting interesting and beautiful objects and images, and everything is lovingly handmade with extreme care and attention to detail.

“Quirky and distinctive designs with a Kettle of Fish twist.”

I’ve been using Dannells (Needcraft) supplies ever since I made my first lampshade almost three years ago. It’s been really interesting to see the many new product lines they have introduced over those years and to add some of them to my regular orders of workshop packs, ring sets and large rolls of fire-retardant backing.

I was therefore thrilled to be asked to try the new range of acrylic paint and a lamp base, along with a lampshade making kit. I had thought the paint and the bases looked of a high quality when they were launched, so I welcomed the chance to put that to the test and selected the June lamp base and some black acrylic paint.

Dannells lampshade kit and wooden lamp base

The kit:

My first impression on opening the delivery was of the quality of the lamp base. The wood felt beautifully smooth and I was impressed by the brass lamp fitting and the ‘old gold’ cable, which are both really nice touches.

The solid beech wood was so pristine that it almost seemed a shame to paint it, but that was the deal! The paint is a good thick consistency and very well pigmented. It went on like a dream, covering the lamp base beautifully with just one coat and had a really lovely, soft black, matt finish. Despite the strong, black pigment it was also very easy to rinse out of the brush with just cold water.

Dannells painted lamp base and acrylic paint

My next job was to decide on fabric for the shade. I looked at a few options and initially thought I would stick to a monochrome design, but in the end I felt that my cloud fabric would be perfect.

Dannells lamp base with range of fabric

Each lampshade making kit contains the rings for the top and bottom of your shade, a small roll of double-sided tape and a pvc panel that stiffens the fabric and also makes it fire-retardant. I started by applying the tape to the rings and then set them aside without removing the backing.

Next, I laid the fabric face down on the table to apply the self adhesive panel. It’s simple to apply to the fabric by slowly removing the grid lined paper as you smooth it down. I used a kitchen spatula to finish off, easing out any air pockets and making sure it was well stuck down before cutting the edges.

Dannells lampshade kit being made by Kettle of Fish Designs

I also added in a small allowance of fabric at one end for a seam overlap, and there is plenty of tape on the roll provided in the kit to do this.

Dannells lampshade kit seam overlap

The fire-retardant panel has a “kiss cut” down each side which is removed to give the perfect edge for tucking a neat seam around the lampshade rings. Once these strips have been peeled away you can remove the backing from the tape on your rings and set about rolling your lampshade. It’s always good to double-check at this stage that you have your fabric and rings the right way up, depending on whether you’re making a shade for a lamp or ceiling fitting! Once you’re confident that everything is correctly placed then it’s the slightly tricky but exciting bit, as you start to roll your lampshade and suddenly see it take shape.

A small tool is provided in the kit which is useful for pushing the fabric under the rings. My secret weapon is a trusty piece of Sheffield cutlery which finishes the job neatly, tucking all of the raw edges under the rings and out of sight.

Dannells lampshade kit. Finishing the edges

The Dannells kits are really easy to use and are how I got started with my love of making lampshades. Over time, I have made a few tweaks to the standard instructions, such as adding in seam overlap to give a neater edge for a more professional look.

Dannells lampshade kit being made by Kettle of Fish Designs

Dannells lampshade kit. Close up of seam.

I’m really thrilled with this lamp – the shape and proportions of the base itself are great and sit perfectly with the 30cm diameter lampshade.

I’m very grateful to have been asked to write this for Dannells, they make great products and their customer care is excellent…..I couldn’t do what I do without them!

Karen Kench

Kettle of Fish Designs

Hand painted lampshade and DIY painted lamp base tutorial

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