One flea market lamp, three DIY shades
Finding a whimsical vintage lamp at a flea market can be great, but what if it doesn't have a shade? You might top off your find with something off-the-rack. (Yawn.) You could have one made. (But how much does that cost?) Or you could go the DIY route and craft a shade that honors the style of the lamp and is truly one-of-a-kind.
This is the route I took after convincing my friend Jan to buy a $20 vintage lamp -- a stylized tree trunk with a red bird perched on it -- at the Long Beach Flea Market. Jan let me take it home as an experiment: As the design editor for the Home section here at The Times, I wanted to craft three shades and let readers vote on their favorite. I limited myself to the same inexpensive shades (IKEA, $10 each) and spent no more than $10 on materials for each. I had some materials on hand -- acrylic paint, white glue and a craft knife -- but those aren't expensive.
Because the lamp looked like a tree trunk I thought it only natural that the shade reference a tree's canopy, but not in a literal way. Keep reading to see the three results and how I achieved them:
The look of dappled sunlight through leafy foliage inspired this shade. I wanted a translucent look, so I bought tissue paper in soft yellows and cut leaf-like shapes out of it. I thinned basic white glue with water, then placed a leaf on the shade and smoothed it into place with a soft, wide brush dipped in the diluted glue. I added more leaves, overlapping some, into an irregular arrangement. For contrast, and to create a surprise when lighted, I used the same process to add pale blue-green shapes to the inside of the shade. These new shapes wouldn't be readily visible when the light is off but come shining through at night when it's on. Cost: about $5.
I was intrigued by the way the "Blooming Branches" shade became opaque once painted. It made me wonder if I could introduce a design by cutting into the shade. But what about when it wasn't lighted? It would still need some texture or dimension to stand out. After experimenting with stiff paper, I had my solution: I would cut out leaf shapes, pop them out from behind, and fold them to create a spine. I didn't want to ruin the apple green paint with pencil guidelines, so I took a deep breath and, using my craft knife, cut a shape into the shade. Because of the shade's thin plastic backing, the shapes were easy to cut, and folded well. Emboldened, I then freehand cut more leaves/shapes into the shade, creating a kind of leafy arabesque design. Placing the shade on the lamp base and lighting it looked great except for one thing: I could see the bulb through the cut shapes from some angles. I took one thin sheet of pale yellow tissue paper left over from the "Sunspot" shade and glued it behind the cut area. Perfect! Cost: Nothing! I already had the acrylic paint and craft knife.
Which shade do you think honors and complements Jan's flea market lamp the best? Comment here or vote at my personal blog: ranchoreubidoux.wordpress.com
-- Reuben Munoz
Become a fan: Join our Facebook page and get a daily stream of design news and ideas.
Photo credit: Reuben Munoz