Sometimes you can find the perfect lamp to light up a specific area or a special corner of a room. And sometimes you can’t – especially when you have a specific design style in mind! So what’s a girl (or boy) to do? Create your own, of course!! All you need is some imagination, inspiration and a bit of good information. Read on to see how I crafted this custom stenciled tribal lamp shade and base from pieces you can easily source from your local home goods store…
My design inspiration for this project was the look of the Makanyane Safari Lodge in South Africa. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to find the perfect tribal-inspired lamp I had in mind, so instead I started to look for individual pieces. I found a plain drum shade easily enough, but really wanted a wooden base to keep with the rustic feel that makes this room so special. Fortunately, a trip to Target revealed a tall rectangular wooden vase with a block shape that was perfect for stenciling. Unfortunately, a vase is NOT a wired lamp base. But, more on that at the end of this post….
First, here are the supplies to stencil this look:
- Straight-sided drum lamp shade – I found a shade at HomeGoods, and you can find them at many retailers, thrift shops and online
- Ready-made lamp base, or convert an object into a lamp base – I used a 22″ tall Threshold wood vase from Target as a lamp base
- Raven + Lily Tribal Stencil in the smaller furniture size
- Squared Diamonds Moroccan Stencil
- Stencil brushes
- Stencil cremes – Renaissance Red, Aged Nickel, Smoked Oyster
- Stencil adhesive spray
- Piece of scrap fabric
Something about the rhythm of patterns on the Raven + Lily Tribal Stencil seemed to sing out to be part of this lamp. The stencil fit perfectly on the drum shade, as you can see. And the straight sides of the shade and base made them very easy to stencil. Because it’s hard to fix painting mistakes on fabric, I suggest test painting on scrap fabric before you stencil a lamp shade. I tested the stencil with Renaissance Red Stencil Creme on a scrap of silk dupioni fabric, and the results were so beautiful, clear and crisp, I think there’s going to be a pillow coming to match this project’s lamp shade!
PRO tip! When painting a lamp shade, use stencil adhesive to hold the stencil flat against the curved shade, and start stenciling at the back seam.
Because my lamp shade’s fabric did not absorb the paint much, I stenciled three light layers of paint to build up the color. Stenciling light layers is better than a thick layer of paint, to prevent the paint from bleeding under the stencil.
I continued painting the pattern all the way around the lamp shade until meeting the seam on the back side. Using stencil adhesive and painting several light layers of paint will help you get a crisp pattern like this.
Next I painted the wood lamp base. If you want to use just part of a stencil pattern, as I did here, just tape off what you don’t want to paint. It’s a bit hard to see here, but I used clear packaging tape because it was handy, and see-through tape made it easier for me to line up the patterns. I stenciled part of the tribal stencil’s geometric pattern up the middle of all four sides of the lamp base using Aged Nickel Stencil Creme. Then I added rows of the Squared Diamond Stencil from Royal Design Studio using Smoked Oyster Stencil Creme.
As you see here, part the same tribal stencil was used on both the lamp shade and base, but the patterns look very different when you run the stencil in different directions and vary the colors of paint.
Now, you may not live in Africa where you can see lions, giraffes and elephants from your front porch. Yeah, neither do we! But the tribal stencil can bring a bit of safari feel to any room. In our house, this tribal pattern lamp is in our sun room where we can watch a safari of deer, squirrels and maybe even a skunk or two on summer evenings!
When I spotted the wood vase at Target, I thought it would be great as a lamp with exaggerated proportions. So it needed to be converted into a lamp base. This step was, as it turned out, not as easy as stenciling the lamp. While it’s easy to find a lamp kit at a home improvement store like Home Depot, because this lamp has a strong personality it called for special pieces that were hard to find. I share some steps and mis-steps from THAT process in this blog post on India pied-à-terre.