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Play with DIY Paper Lampshades

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Making lampshades from paper is the equivalent of opening a Pandora’s box of creative opportunities! Paper's versatility and durability are the perfect medium to create interesting lampshades, not to mention the choice and selection of beautiful decorative papers available. In today’s blog post, we’ve rounded up our favourite ways to play with and use paper to make distinctive and creative lampshades with an eye-catching difference.

diy paper lampshades

Printed Paper Lampshades

From offcuts of wallpaper to printed craft paper, wrapping paper or maps, printed papers are an ideal choice to make a handmade lampshade, using our range of Lampshade Making Kits. However, there are a few golden rules to bear in mind though when working with paper:

  • When using wallpaper that will only work with a vertical alignment, you’ll need to join two pieces together to create the required length.

  • Thicker papers such as wallpaper and maps will tuck under the lampshade ring in the final stages, but this needs to be done with patience and care! An old reward or credit card is useful here.

  • For thinner papers consider adding bias binding tape or self-adhesive textile tape edge along the top and the bottom of the shade, as the paper may rip when tucked under.

  • As with fabric, consider the size and scale of any pattern and how it will fit on your shade remember horizontal patterns will not stay horizontal on Conical and Empire Shades.

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Hand Painted

Working their way into modern and naturally inspired interiors of late, handpainted lampshades are simple to achieve, with some practice. From checks and stripes to intricate patterns or illustrations, the best base to paint onto is Lampshade Making Parchment, a semi-transparent laminated paper, that can be bought in a variety of finishes. Pick from our cloudy marbled cigarette paper parchments, available in white -Perga White, cream - Cirrus Brie and aged - Nimbus Light

Here are our tips for painting your own lampshade:

  • Know your limits – if you’re a novice painter opt for stripes, checks or wavy lines, which are simple to repeat.

  • If you’re painting a drum lampshade, paint before the shade is made up. If you’re painting a Conical or Empire lampshade, make the shade first, then paint, working with the side gradient of the lampshade.

  • Practise in advance to perfect your design, by drawing around your shade panel onto cardboard or lining paper.

  • Play with paints – for bolder colours opt for acrylic paints or for lighter coverage try watercolours.

  • Remember to leave space at the top and bottom of your design for your bias tape or more commonly used with Lampshade Making Parchment, our Self-Adhesive Textile Tape

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Art papers

If painting your own paper lampshade doesn’t appeal to you, why not use another artist's handcrafted crafted papers instead? There’s a world of papers out there that include marbled, block and lino printed and even beautiful wrapping paper is an option. Popular choices are Cambridge Imprint, Maiden Marbling and Japanese Stationery.

Rosie de Ruig, famous for her beautiful handprinted paper lampshades, shares her paper lampshade tutorial for House & Garden, complete with tips for making below.

Folded and Fluted Lampshades

Crisp paper or parchment makes for the perfect vehicle for folded, fluted or origami lampshades. Folded lampshades work best when made by adhering paper to our Less Rigid Lampshade Making PVC, which is a lighter version of our Standard Lampshade Making PVC, at 150 microns. This weight allows you to achieve crisp folds, ideal for pleated lampshades, along with the required fire retardancy.

To make Fluted Lampshades, our Laminated Parchments work best, as they are malleable enough to bend into classic pieced fluted shapes, providing strength to the lampshade structure. For inspiration, check out our DIY Tutorial - Parchment Fluted Lampshade over on the Dannells blog.

Beginner or advanced, origami lampshades offer a wealth of style, shapes and folding techniques from the simple to the extremely complex. To help you get started we like this simple DIY Origami Lampshade tutorial from The House That Lars Built blog and for those of you interested in an in-depth guide to Origami lighting, Kate Colin shares her expertise in this Domestika Design Your Own Paper Lamp Course.


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