Paper Mache Lamp Shade



Introduction: Paper Mache Lamp Shade

About: Hi. I'm Richard Neuman. I started making Paper Mache Props for Halloween and didn't stop! Lately I've been making Tiki statues and other outdoor garden sculptures.

I love the look of light through paper, especially lanterns at night. I needed a lamp shade for my PVC pipe lamp so here we go!

You will Need:

  • Tissue Paper
  • White Glue
  • Plastic wrap
  • Packing Tape
  • Scissors, paint brush and a big bowl

Step 1: Wrap the Bowl

Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap.
Tape the edges of the wrap to the inside of the bowl. You don’t want to get any glue on the bowl.

Step 2: Rip N’ Tear

Tear the tissue paper into strips.

Just like newspaper, tissue paper has a grain, so it’s easy to tear in one direction only. Then cut the long strips into shorter pieces.
Separate them into individual pieces as you go so they are not doubled up.

Step 3: Painting With Glue

Dilute the white glue with water. Roughly equal amounts of glue and water.

Because the tissue paper is so thin, the traditional method of paper mache where you the dip the newspaper in the sauce and use your fingers to remove the excess won’t cut it. The tissue paper will just bunch up and do it’s best to frustrate you.

Instead, paint a layer of glue/water on part the bowl by itself. Then add dry strips directly on the bowl. Work in sections, rather than painting the entire bowl all at the same time. You don’t want the glue to dry before you add the paper. For this size bowl, I divided it up into 5 sections.

Step 4: Set It and Forget It.

When you apply the tissue paper, wherever you place it is where it’s going to stay.

No matter how careful you are, you can’t move tissue paper into place like newspaper, it will just bunch up or tear. You will have lots of layers, so where each piece lands doesn’t matter too much.

Step 5: Alternate Directions

Place the bowl on some sort of pedestal so you can easily rotate it.

Lay down each layer 90 degrees to the previous layer. Put one layer of strips running up and down the bowl, and the next layer running around the bowl.

Put 2 layers of tissue paper on, then let it dry overnight.

The next day put on another 4 layers. You will find that each layer takes less and less time as you get better at it. This method doesn’t take as long as the traditional paper mache method and isn't as messy.

Step 6: Remove Tape

When dry, remove the tape from the inside of the bowl and peel back the plastic wrap.

Step 7: Cut and Remove

Start from the edge of the bowl and cut towards the bottom of the bowl, which is the top of the lamp.

It will be pretty tight, so you may have to turn the lampshade partially inside out when you peel the plastic and paper off the bowl.

Step 8: Inside-In (Is That Even a Word?)

Turn the lampshade back into its original shape and remove the plastic.

Now you can stuff the plastic shell with newspaper and make another lampshade without using the bowl!

Step 9: Fix It

Tape the inside of the lamp to fix the tear and add a double-layer (1 Vertical and 1 horizontal) of tissue paper to a large section of the lamp over the tear.

If you are concerned about consistency, you could do a complete double-layer over the entire shade, but with so many layers underneath, it shouldn’t be too noticeable.

The more layers of tissue paper you use, the darker and more consistent in color the shade will be.

Once the repair-job from the last paper mache dries, paint on a final layer of watered down glue. This will act as a sealer to the outside of the lamp.

Step 10: Trim the Edges

Trim the rough edges off and you’re done!

Cut a hole in the center to slide onto your light socket.

I used a cardboard coaster with a hole in the center to keep the shade in place and away from the light bulb.


Be sure to use a low-heat light bulb like a CCFL or LED.

Don’t use an incandescent light bulb. I love those ‘old-school’ bulbs, but you don’t want to start a fire.

To be safe, spray on a layer of fire retardant spray. It won’t affect the color of the lampshade. Home depot carries the Excel brand, but there are others.

Step 12:

Be sure to check out the Paper Mache Class.

Mikaela Holmes Has a great Instructable on building a tissue paper lamp.

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