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Lampshade Style Guide - Silhouette Lampshades

Unique and striking, Silhouette lampshades have a fabulous element of surprise that springs to life when the light turns on! Increasingly more popular, this clever style can be made by using a plain lampshade outer fabric and a patterned inner covering, which can be seen as a 'silhouette' due to the glow from the bulb. This month's Lampshade Style Guide tells you all you need to know about Silhouette Lampshades, the lampshade supplies you need to make them and an inspiring motif hack from one of our lampshade makers.

Basic history

Silhouette Lampshades are certainly not a modern invention. First explored in the Victorian era, dark heavy embroidered brocade would have been used to decorate the outside rather than the inside of intricately shaped lampshades, which would then be silhouetted from the outside when the light was turned on. A brilliant example is below made by the talented @aceofshadesshop

Our trusty vintage reference book Lampshade Making by F.J. Christopher, published in 1950, features a ‘novelty lampshade’ made from ‘two different materials’ on which ‘silhouetted shapes are painted on the inside of the covering material, which spring into action when the shade is used over a lighted lamp’. How popular these styles were is hard to tell, but they were the creative forerunners of today's silhouette lampshades.

Style Description

The essence of a silhouetted shade is a seemly plain, one-colour lampshade that has a patterned interior, that shines through when the light is switched on, giving the lampshade a whole new dimension. Easily achieved by using our Double-Sided Lampshade Making PVC, this allows you to adhere a woven fabric or wallpaper to the inside of the shade, and woven fabric to the outside of the shade. Plain cotton, linen and velvet all work well, and although a plain fabric is the most popular choice, there is nothing to stop you from using patterned fabrics for both!

Motif Silhouette Shades

Bespoke motif silhouettes can be created to sit on the inside of a shade using the method below, which was kindly shared Lampshade Maker’s Facebook Group member, Susan Stohelit of @Catwithnotailgifts. She made this intricate biker lampshade below, to celebrate the TT races that take place on the Isle of Man every year, where she lives.

‘After drawing a SVG file and cutting this from Lampshade Making PVC using my Silhouette Cameo machine, I peeled off the backing, then used a sharpie to darken the sticky side. I then stuck this onto the back of the PVC that the fabric is applied to. This way you don’t see the silhouette until you turn the lamp on’

Advantages and uses

A silhouette lampshade has two useful facets; plain and simple looking during the day; patterned and full of character in the evening once the light is switched on. Both can be looks can be tailored to suit your interiors and a silhouette shade works well, adding interest to a plain space or a space that already has pattern, for a maximalist vibe.

Personally, we love the added element of surprise and can recommend silhouette shades to be used with everything from candle clip shades to our huge 100cm lampshade rings.

What you’ll need to make a silhouette lampshade

Our Double-Sided Lampshade Making PVC is the perfect vehicle for making silhouette shades which come in handy pre-cut sized to work with our Lampshade Making Rings. To use the Double-sided panels you’ll also need to use our Self Adhesive Strip, which is 15mm wide, to create a kisscut at the top and bottom of your panel.

Watch our step-by-step YouTube video below and our Demonstrator Sam will show you exactly how to use both products.

Silhouette Lampshades Showcase

Here are some of our favourite and very different Silhouette Lampshades, showing how varied they can be, all made with the element of surprise in mind!


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