Doily Lamp




Introduction: Doily Lamp

Former Instructables employee. Living in San Francisco amidst the fog. I love getting my hands ...

It's time to give the dated doily a facelift - and what better way than really highlighting the unique lace patterns in a lamp! 

It took me a few tries, but after a bit of troubleshooting I've put together here an easy-to-follow tutorial so you can make your own Doily Lamp, as seen on reMade USA. Enjoy!

Step 1: Materials and Set-Up

 For this project you will need:
  • Doilies - I recommend getting more than you think you might need. Balloons are big, and it's nice to have flexibility with where you place the doilies on your lamp. I found all of mine on Ebay (search for lot sales of doilies, and you'll find a lot of options), and I'll bet yard and estate sales would also have plenty.
  • Wallpaper glue - After a few tries with different glues, I can confidently say that wallpaper glue will be your best choice. I found a powder at my local hardware store, and mixed it much thicker than the directions stated, so it had a slightly-more-liquidy-than-jello consistency. On my first try I used a watered down wood glue, and this proved to be too sensitive to a humid environment. After 1 night of San Francisco fog and open windows, it collapsed on itself. Not cool.
  • 3 ft round balloon - Sizing is optional, but you don't want the lampshade to run too close to the bulb itself. I recommend using a cold energy-efficient bulb, and not to risk any burning or melty glue. If you can't find a 3 ft balloon at your local party store, they're easy to get online. Round balloons tend to be thicker (read: stronger) than the standard oblong balloons, and so are less likely to pop. But might as well get 2...and not risk it.
  • Large paint brush - one that you won't mind getting a bit gluey
latex gloves
spray starch
string for hanging - and some apparatus to do so. I used a ladder.

Step 2: Doily!

And so it begins. The gluing-hanging-drying phase takes quite a bit of time, it turns out, but the final product looks so much better when everything's had time to dry properly.

Taking your first doily, place on some newspaper and brush liberally with glue. It's fine to be heavy-handed here. When it's all good and saturated with glue, place on the top of your balloon, leaving a bit of room around the top, which is where your blub will eventually slip through. 

Repeat with more doilies, and be sure to overlap along the edges. You'll notice that the lamp will be weighed down with each added doily, and at a certain point you won't be able to add any more. When this first (approx. 1/3) of your balloon is covered, let dry as is.

A day or 2 later, once it's all dry, cut balloon from makeshift hanging, and prop up so an un-doilied side is exposed. Cover again with doilies, using the same method as before, and rotate when dry again. Repeat until the whole balloon is covered.

Optional: Once you have a doilied balloon, hang back up on your (ladder) hanging apparatus, and add another thick layer of glue for good measure. Allow time to dry. Then grab that spray starch and go to town spraying your balloon. I did multiple layers of starch, in addition to that extra glue, and ended up using almost an entire can. The spraying-and-drying time for this stage took about another week, but the extra stability's worth it if you have the time.

Step 3: Pop and Hang

Once everything's all dry (yay!) and you're confident in the doily's stability, it's time to pop the balloon. Grab something sharp, and poke a hole. The glue will hold the balloon agains the doilies, but the tension and pressure from the stretched balloon will eventually cause it to pull away. It's fine to get in there and do some pulling, too.

And you're all done! Enjoy your handiwork, and then hang that sucker. Grandmotherly accessories never looked so good.



    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest
    • Fix It! Contest

      Fix It! Contest

    24 Discussions

    Would a person be able to use paper doilies for a project like this as well?

    I am wondering if repurposing a wire paper latern would work instead of using a balloon.

    Can you please send me pictures of these crochet pattrens ??

    I love this idea. I am moving and I plan on making 1 of these for the light overhead in my bedroom. What would be the smallest lamp that could be safely made, fire and all that?

    2 replies

    Oh gosh. I'm not too sure. I think it all depends on the wattage of the light you're using, and how close it gets to your doilies.

    It seems like you've conveniently NOT shown how the lamp bits fit into the doily bit. How to suspend the bulb inside? Maybe I'm just stupid, but I can't figure that bit out!

    1 reply

    Here is a link to the type of fixture to use.

    I saw a picture of the Doily Lamp on Pinterest, and saw a picture of that darling child blowing up a balloon for the doily lamp... so easy, a child could do it! That's til I saw KallieJ's review... which I know would happen to me. Yikes!! It is certainly cute, looks like a lot of work went into that, and not really child's play. Question... how the heck do you get the balloon out once it dries, without having the lace cave in?? Anywaay, a project best viewed on Pinterest and kept there. Thanks for the dose of reality and saving me several hours, my sanity, and dollars, Kallie.


    This is a lovely project-and a nightmare of epic proportions. I spent ALL day trying to make this work, the doilies didn't stick to the balloon, they slid off every which way. I tried using heavy thread to tie them together, I tried starting from the top, I tried starting from the bottom, I tried everything I could think of and it just didn't work. On attempt #8. the balloon burst and I threw it all in the garbage.Glue from one end of my kitchen to another and all over me. Worst project I've ever attempted and I'm a very experienced DIYer. If anyone has any suggestions, I may gather the courage to attempt this again some day. But aside from doing it in small parts (making it a week or more long project) I'm lost.

    1 reply

    hahaha ... I got such a laugh from your experience written above as I could imagine this happening to me if I attempted the project.


    So I want to make a few of these for my wedding. I don't have doilies but I do have a bunch of lace that I got from goodwill. Do you think something like that would work too? :)

    I have just finished my lampshade (after 3 attempts!) and am loving the final results.....I'm just not sure how to hang it correctly!! Any help??
    Thanks so much! :)

    I've made one too. I didn't brush the glue on though, I just soaked all doilies in a bowl of glue. I used and old pendant shade to fit the bulb etc (a bit like this one
    It's a beauty and So Is Yours!
    (you heard of the product "powertex"? They say it'll make textile rock hard and is even weatherproof. Haven't tried it yet but thought it would be great for outside projects like covering a pergola or making a fence)

    1 reply

    Great idea, my husband calls me doily lady!! I love them and appreciate all the work someone put into them. This is a great way to show them off.Thank you for sharing!

    not sure how to install the lighting to the shade, any tips?