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Lampshade Style Guide – Hand Painted Lampshades  

Painted lampshades is a niche interiors trend that brings life, and distinctive design to parchment and plain fabric lampshades. Whilst there are many talented artist and makers creating stunning painted lampshades, this is a lampshade style that you can definitely create yourself.

In today’s Lampshade Style Guide, we explore the history of the painted lampshade, its uses and the lampshade making products, paints and techniques you’ll need to get artistic, as well as plenty of inspiration from makers who have mastered this lampshade style.

Basic history

As lampshades moved from functional to decorative styles of lighting, painted lampshades mainly originate from the Arts and Crafts movement of 1860-1910, when design became more simplistic, and traditional craftmanship was revered echoing the mantra of William Morris, who said ‘Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or consider to be beautiful’.


Painting onto glass lampshades became popular form of decoration, and included designs of Celtic motifs and flora and fauna, such as flowers, leaves and vines and during the Arts and Crafts movement, an alternative to glass lampshades were those made of mica, created from thin, translucent flakes of a mineral known as phyllosilicates, which were combined with shellac to form sheets. Echoing the same textures and colours of mica were parchment papers, an inexpensive alternative, and it was parchment that remained popular through the early part of the 20th century, being adapted for the trends of the 30s, 40s and 50s, through to the painted lampshades of today.

Style Description

Painted lampshades come in many shapes and sizes, but contemporary makers seem to favour Conical or Empire lampshade styles that have impact in terms of the designs being seen when used as a table lamp, and the sloping shape being perfect for painted stripes and regular patterns.


Whilst parchment is the more traditional choice for painted lampshades, due to its smooth surface, plain cotton lampshades can also be painted onto, and a range of different paints can be used dependant on your chosen surface. Watercolours and acrylic paints are perfect for parchment, whereas acrylic and emulsion paint suit painting onto fabric.


How to paint a lampshade - New York Times - Cressida Bell - Image Credit: Nicole Bachmann

Advantages and uses

Either buying or creating your own painted lampshade means that you have a completely unique lampshade and far from mass produced lampshades, each painted lampshade is created with love and care.


Our range of Parchment Lampshade Materials are available in a range of smooth finishes, making these the ideal canvasses for painting, drawing or printing onto, meaning you can add your own personal twist to each lampshade you make, picking your required size from our range of coordinating rigid frames.


Painting onto parchment is also a common choice for lampshade making due to its translucency, as the paper diffuses the light from the bulb in varying degrees dependant on the thickness and type of paper used. Measured in GSM (grams per square meter), the lower the GSM number, the lighter the paper will be, therefore the more translucent. This said some all-over painted designs will limit the light shining through the shade, whereas minimal designs will not.

Products for Painting Parchment and Cotton Lampshades

We’ve rounded up the variety of Dannells products and lampshade making supplies to make your own Painted Lampshade:


Parchment Painted Lampshades

Cotton / Fabric Painted Lampshades

There are two different methods of creating a base for a cotton based painted lampshade:


How to Paint your Own Lampshade

Dependant on the required look and feel of your painted lampshade, will be dependant on the paint you use.

Emulsion or Chalk Paint - With a thicker consistency, emulsion and chalk paints are ideal for creating a new base colour for a handmade lampshade, or if watered down creating details like bold stripes, or as rustic details as featured in this Craig and Rose video tutorial

Watercolours – Light watercolour paints are perfect for painting onto Parchment Lampshade Materials, to give blended and washed out looks on both parchment and cotton lampshades. Check out this video from The Spruce on how to apply watercolours to a cotton lampshade

Acrylic Paint – The perfect texture for achieving block designs or finer features, Acrylic paints are easy to control on both parchment and cotton lampshade surfaces. Follow this abstract fabric lampshade painting tutorial from Delineate Your Dwelling for ideas and techniques.

Inspirational Lampshade Makers

In our search for artist and makers who paint their own lampshades, the artists below all have their own unique and individual styles of painting lampshades, using different and paints and techniques that may inspire you to have a go yourself!


Check out the makers featured above and their beautifully painted hand painted lampshades!

Cressida Bell

Sarah Blomfield

Hum London

Little Bowerbird

Bloomsbury Revisited

Alvaro Picardo

Helena Beer

Minnie-Mae Studio

And finally

We couldn't resist sharing this Insta Reel from @minniemaestudio highlighting her beautiful technique, when painting her parchment shades, using Farrow and Ball paint. Very inspirational!


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