Introduction: Wax Resist Ikea Lampshade

About: Hello my name is Jennifer Douglas and I have been a textile artist for the last 25 years since graduating from West Surrey College of Art and Design. I specialise in making and teaching silkpainting and batik …

I recently bought a large white lampshade from Ikea and was impressed how fast it all came together with the shade part being simply attached together by a strip of velcro. This gave me the idea to design my own fabric, using wax as a resist and attaching it with velcro in a similar way, making it possible to easily change the cover design

Wax resist fabric looks so lovely with light behind it, I've been wanting to make some sort of lighting project for some time now, but have been put off by the complex shapes of lampshades. The Ikea size and simple shape gave me hope I could achieve my aim without too much technical support!

I'm using motifs I found in Indonesia whist studying Batik in Yogyakarta. The wax element in this project has a special language, with symbols depicting the elements, land, fire, water and air.

I hope you enjoy the process and how making your own light shade can produce a very individual creation on a standard fairly inexpensive product.

Step 1: Equipment Needed

Some wax, paraffin,beeswax or you can by a ready mix in bead form

A wax heater

A Tjanting -small tool for apply wax with a copper spout

A frame the size of your lampshade, mine was about 75" x 14"

A chinese brush for painting dyes

Dupont Steam Fix Dyes -I used a range of blue shades ( you could use iron fix paints for similar results)

A vertical steamer

Silk pins

Autofade pen


Paper Tissue

Ice cube tray or small pots for paints

Plastic droppers

Step 2: The Original Inspiration

This is the sample I produced of Indonesian motifs using wax on cotton with a traditional tjanting whilst on a batik course in Yogyakarta, 20 years or so ago. By chance one of the tutors showed an example of fabric showing these designs and I became intrigued by these small wax marks as they suddenly opened up a visual language within the world of Batik fabrics.

Step 3: Stretching the Silk and Using the Autofade Pen

First I measured the Ikea lampshade and cut the silk to this size and stretched it out on a frame with the silk pins.

Then I decided to give this design a bit of structure with regular divisions to contain all the different patterns, using a ruler and autofade pen. I then felt it would be a good idea to draw out the patterns onto the silk so that I would be able to see where to wax more easily and accurately.

Working with wax takes a bit of practise and a steady hand, but is very satisfying when it flows well !

Step 4: Waxing With a Tjanting or Canting!

I have quite a collection of different tjantings, but this one got the job to draw straight lines on the silk and for drawing the motifs. The tjanting allows fine lines to be drawn with the use of a small copper spout attached to a copper bowl and wooden handle . They come in many variations, some with multiple spouts.

It's good to hold a piece of tissue and wipe the bottom of the copper bowl to prevent any drips occurring.

Step 5: Waxing the Motifs and Their Meanings

These motifs all have their own significant meanings, many symbolise natural images of fruit, trees, flowers, birds and water relating to the 4 elements of earth,fire air and water.

Step 6: Using Dupont Steam Fix Dyes

Steam Fix are lovely colours to work with, I enjoy using these dyes when I want my work to have deep intense shades. I've concentrated on mainly a blue palette of Turquoise, Cote d'Azur, Vieux Bleu, Bleu Indien, Jade and Noir, using them concentrate, diluted with water and intermixed to extend the range.

I used a chinese brush, made of wolf hair! which has a fine point to make painting easier in detailed areas. I often hold the brush vertically to control the flow of the dye.

Step 7: Painting the Border

I'd painted a small border of blue at the top and bottom of the design which seemed to bring the whole work together at the end. I used a larger brush and enough dye to see me right the way around the frame.

Step 8: Steaming Silk Using a Vertical Steamer

If you don't have this bit of kit, which is expensive to buy, just use a veggy steamer or pressure cooker. There are helpful silk painting books which can guide you through this way of steaming, or simply iron fix if your using the Pebeo Setasilk Paints.

I'm rolling the silk onto a cardboard tube between lengths of newsprint, which I get from a local scrapstore. This is then placed in the middle section of my steamer, the extension sits on top with it's lid on connecting to the tube and centralising it to the middle of the steamer. Then after filling the bottom section with water to the level required I place all 3 section together, switch on and wait for about 2 hours.

Step 9: Unravelling the Steamed Silk

After 2 hours the steam has fixed the dyes and the wax has also been taken out of the fabric. The colours do intensify at this stage and the silk has a wonderful shine. Always exciting to unravel the parcel and see the finished results.

Please note Ikea Lampshade hanging in the background, I like it in white, but can't wait to see my designs all lit up!

Step 10: Attaching the Lampshade Cover

This is the Ikea lampshade, called" Nymo" (59cm) costing £26, which I thought was a good price for such a large shade. It's drum shape appealed to me as I could see how easy it would be to apply my work to it, without the usual difficulties that I could see with other more complex shade designs.

I just had to be accurate with width measurements as the silk was going to sit exactly on the rims of the shade and be secured into position by the joining velcro.

I machined the velcro on to each end of the silk, and wrapped the fabric easily around the drum.

The vertical design and the busy pattern I had designed, helped conceal the velcro join , something to consider when planning the further designs.

Step 11: Finished Lampshade!

I liked how easy it was to fix a length of fabric I had designed onto an easy lampshade shape. I can change it easily and opt for making the project into a hanging when it's not a cover for the shade!

I hope you enjoyed this project and feel inspired to try out a few designs of your own.

More ideas and tutorials on


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