Light brings atmosphere and ambiance, depending on how you use it, whether you blast it or dim it or color it. Adding patterns can make the shadows dance. Lighting can set a mood. Most lampshades, though, are plain white or beige. What if you could make a shade look any way you want? What if you wanted an exotic patterned shade evocative of 1001 Arabian Nights? Well, you can do that! Here’s how…
Supplies for this project
To paint the shade:
- Stencils: Raj Trellis Indian Craft Stencil, Fretwork Border Craft Stencil Set and Amira Ornament Craft Stencil
- Stencil Cremes: Flat Black and Copper Kettle (or Modern Masters copper)
- Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan in Coco
- Stencil brushes – the tiny brushes were great for this project’s small detail
- Paper towel, ruler, scissors
- Silk taffeta or faux silk taffeta – I used Cream from Hyena Productions (they have dozens of colors)
- Fray Block (optional)
To assemble a pendant light:
- Pendant light electrical kit with ceiling canopy, cord and light socket – I used a copper set from World Market; you can also find kits on Etsy
- Top ring for shade – look for an “uno fitter” ring that fits around the light socket so the shade is attached to the socket
- Bottom ring for shade – can be a plain ring if you want the bottom of the pendant light open; I used a “washer fitter” or “spider” ring with spokes on it because I wanted to attach a diffuser
- Quick Glue or thread and needle
- Acrylic diffuser (optional)
- Screw (I found copper screws from a tattoo machine part supplier!), washer and nut
First, cut a rectangle of fabric. I used a faux silk polyester taffeta. The fabric is crisp and substantial, and has a luxurious silk look without the silk price.
Width of Shade. The width can be however wide you want it. You can find lamp shade rings in lots of sizes. I chose 10″ diameter rings. Cut the fabric wide enough to fit around the circumference of your ring.
Circumference of circle = radius (half of the diameter) multiplied by 3.14.
Plus add 1″ for an overlap so there’s extra fabric to glue the seams together. Because my rings are 10″ diameter, I cut fabric 32.4″ wide, which is 31.4 plus 1 inch. Here is an easy Circumference Calculator.
Length of Shade. The width can be however long you want your shade. Because I’m hanging pendants from a 10-foot ceiling in a space that’s about 10′ x 10′ and I want the shades to yell “hey look at me!” I made exaggerated 2-foot long shades. Be sure to add about 1 inch on the top and bottom of your shade, so there’s enough fabric to fold over the rings and either glue or sew.
You can put Fray Block on the cut edges so the fabric doesn’t fray.
Now we’re ready to paint! If you’re not sure about paint colors, do samples on scrap paper first. I tested different combos of colors as well as spacing of the borders. It was hard to decide which of these two samples to go with — I liked both equally well. I asked for feedback from friends and even Facebook comments wound up evenly divided! I used the “eenie meenie miney mo, catch a tiger by the toe” method to choose, and the black trellis design won.
The mini craft size stencils are the perfect size for smaller projects like this. Have fun combining a bunch of different stencils! I mixed a trellis, some tiny borders, and a medallion all together.
Try the small stencil brushes with these smaller craft stencils. I used the tiniest brush to add some black detail to a copper color border.
A few tips to get a good result with stencils:
- You may wonder why is there a stencil with no paint on it, in the middle of painting the black trellis? Well, every once in awhile it’s good to take a break and wash paint off your stencils, so you can see through them well enough to line up the pattern properly.
- If you use a taffeta, the fabric is a little slick, so you might want to secure your stencil to the fabric with a piece of painters tape. I lived dangerously and didn’t do this.
- To prevent paint from bleeding under the stencil, off-load paint onto a paper towel, so you are painting with a nearly dry brush. You can always build up color with several layers of paint.
You may have seen Chaai the Crafty Cat in other projects here. He would love the Hollywood red carpet. As soon as he saw me photographing this project, he plopped down and posed. Chaai is pointing out the difference in those circles, which are acrylic diffusers to diffuse harsh light bulbs. The fabric is beige but the diffusers were white, so they looked funny. I simply spray painted them with a light coat of Krylon beige spray paint, and they now look better with the beige pendant shade fabric.
The diffusers are also another surface to stencil! The pendant lights will be hanging high over our heads, so instead of looking at a plain disc, I stenciled an Amira Ornament Craft Stencil medallion onto the diffusers.
Here’s another tip to get a good stenciling result: Paint lightly and build your color up in layers. Above, you can see the medallion looks light gray, then medium gray, then a deep black. It took about four light coats to build up a deep black medallion. That’s okay!
To attach the fabric shade to the metal rings, you can sew or glue the fabric. If you glue, Quick Glue is recommended for making lampshades. I chose to sew because for me sewing was faster and easier. I’m a messy gluer, no matter how hard I try not to be! Seriously I’m like a first grader with glue. You can wrap the fabric over the ring and then sew a simple “whip stitch” that loops over and around the ring. It adds to the hand-crafted nature of the shade, and when standing a few feet away, you cannot see the stitches.
Then, simply attach your shade to the light bulb socket.
If you want to add an optional acrylic light diffuser, you can attach it to the bottom ring with a screw, washer and nut. I painted the washer black to add a design element, and found a copper screw. Diffusers literally diffuse the light when you don’t want to be blasted by a harsh bare bulb.
Here you can see how you can set up the pendant shade so just a bit of the hardware peeks out. This looks especially nice if you’re using pretty hardware.
Here’s a sample pendant. Three pendant lights will be going across the planet to India for permanent installation! They’ll be lined up on the ceiling in the entryway, greeting visitors as they come into our apartment in India, so the Indian Raj trellis stencil and patterns were the perfect pattern choice for this exotic pendant light!